WARMER WINTER ADVENTURES
WORDS BY MICHAEL BORG
Believe it or not, winter can be an awesome time for camping. The cooler days mean you’re not sweating like a pig in an overbaked sauna, there’s less snakes and spiders around to give you the fright of your life and even your 4WD will run cooler while towing the family chariot from camp to camp. But there is one downside: it can get darn cold! Yep, who would have thought it, eh? Not to worry, though. We’ve got plenty of tricks up our sleeve to ensure you can turn the coldest of nights into the cosiest of camping experiences. So, pop your Ugg Boots on, light up the campfire and get ready to warm your soul with are exclusive guide to cold weather camping!
1. CHOOSE GOOD FIREWOOD
To get a good campfire going, you’re going to need good wood to burn. How do you know which wood is the best? Well, density and water content typically determine the quality of firewood. The denser and drier the firewood, the better it will burn and the more heat it can produce.
Hardwood varieties generally haver higher density levels and less sap, making them the wood of choice. But, like all firewood it needs to be seasoned (dried) in order to be nice and dry.
2. TOP TIPS
Dealing with wet wood
During the colder months, timber can absorb moisture making it harder to burn, particularly when you’re initially lighting your campfire. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path.
– Wood that is sitting up and off the ground is less likely to be waterlogged or rotten.
– Look for wood that has been standing upright as any moisture within is likely to drain towards the bottom, leaving the top half nice and dry.
– Initially, soft woods like Pine are easier to ignite in damp or cold conditions.
3. PRE-HEATED SLEEPING BAG
Pre-heat your whole swag with a small shovel load of coals under your swag’s stretcher half an hour before bedtime. It works great under your camp chair too!
4. COMPACT CAMPING
Sleeping in a smaller, enclosed area will allow your body heat to fill up the space at a faster rate and keep it balanced throughout the night. So, where possible, try to reduce the size of your sleeping quarters by partitioning it off from the rest of your tent. The kids will also be a lot warmer in their own swags inside the main tent.
5. EMERGENCY BLANKET INSULATION
A great way to add a layer of insulation to your bed is to line under your mattress with an emergency blanket. Ensure the shiny side is facing down, which will help it to repel the cold air as it rises from the ground.
6. HOT WATER SYSTEMS
With several different designs to pick from, it can be tricky to choose the right system to suit your needs. The key to selecting the most suitable option is to get a good understanding of what need from your hot water system. Let’s have a closer look at what hot water systems are currently available.
Ultra – Rapid Storage HWS: This design is perfect if you need a design that can recover quickly for the next shower. It’s also great if you need it to be small and light weight and want a simple and reliable system.
AquaGo Instantaneous HWS: A great option for anyone who likes to take long showers without the worry of the water going cold. Great for families as you only need to keep water up to it. It weighs less than 16 Kgs, never scolds, and supplies a constant temperature.
Combi Combination HWS/Room Heating: Being quite a compact unit, this product has a smaller water storage tank, making water conservation during use a good idea. It can also be used as a heater to heat a room, which makes it perfect for those cold winter’s nights. This product is available in Gas/Electric or Diesel.
7. DON’T FORGET THE PYJAMA’S!
Wear fresh, dry clothes to bed. Any lingering moisture from sweating during the day will end up evaporating and making you cold during the night.
8. LAYER UP
Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing, which will allow you to easily regulate your temperature as required. Avoid cotton garments as they absorb moisture like a sponge. Instead, consider wool, which is water-resistant and ideal for a range of weather conditions.
9. HAND WARMERS
Get some Gel snap-activated handwarmers which are a quick and effective way to heat your hands up if they get too cold. The best part is they can be reset by boiling them in water for a few minutes!
10. VENTILATION IS KEY
Even if it’s freezing cold, you should always vent your tent. If you don’t, you’ll wake up to condensation on the inside of your tent’s walls. Trust us, a wet bed will lead to one grumpy camper in the morning.
11. FOAM TILES
Those colourful foam tiles that usually live in the kid’s room will come in super handy on the floor of your tent in cold weather. They’ll add an extra layer of insulation between you and the cold ground, and help keep your feet warm first thing in the morning.
12. TARP IT UP
Perhaps the most versatile of all camping equipment, laying a tarp under your camper trailers tent as a ground sheet can help reduce the moisture and condensation that finds its way inside. But don’t stop there; add another tarp over the top of your set-up a few inches above the canvas roof as a fly, too.
13. SLEEPING BAG LINER
Adding a sleeping bag liner is a cost-effective way to add warmth to your bag without adding too much bulk. In fact, it can increase your sleeping bags comfort range by up to a few degrees – not bad for under $20, eh?
14. TOASTY CLOTHING
Before you go to bed, pack your sleeping bag full of the clothes you’re planning on wearing the next day. Not only will it add extra warmth during the night, but you’ll have warm, dry clothes to put on in the morning.
15. INCREASE YOUR CORE TEMPERATURE
Take a 5-10minute walk around your campsite before hitting the sack, which will help get your metabolism going and in turn help you stay warm. Make sure you don’t raise a sweat though, that will only work against you in the cold. Eating a high energy snack before bed isn’t a bad idea, though.
16. WHEN MOTHER NATURE CALLS
A quick toilet break before you hit the hay can save a cold, lonely walk if Mother Nature calls in the middle of the night. But if you do need to go, it’s best to suck it up and make the journey. That way your body won’t have to work as hard to keep you warm.
While camping in colder weather can definitely have its challenges, there is something special about a fresh winter’s morning. The fog that fills the valleys is just magical, and the smell of last night’s campfire still smouldering away as the sun rises is the sort of thing that lingers in your memory for years to come. As a matter of fact, it’s time to hit the road!