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Cold Weather Camping Essentials

Living in the UK means that we have our pick of fantastic landscapes to go camping in, but it also means we have our fair share of unpredictable – or predictably cold – weather. Luckily, with the right kit and some expert knowledge, a camping adventure in the colder months is perfectly possible, along with emptier campsites and crisp winter air on your excursions every day. Your usual camping setup will do just fine, but there are some can't-go-without pieces that you absolutely need in cold weather.

Sleeping Bag

The obvious one, but for good reason. Your sleeping bag is the foundation of camping adventures, and if you’re planning to be camping in cold weather (or get cold easily), our recommendation is to go for a 3-season sleeping bag as an absolute minimum, but that most people would prefer a 4-season sleeping bag. It’s important to keep in mind that these ratings aren’t standardised so can vary across sleeping bag brands, so to make your final decision, always look at the minimum temperature rating of individual bags.

Sleeping Mat

Not just for comfort (although they’re essential for that, too), sleeping mats act as insulation in cold weather, preventing heat being lost to the cold ground. In general, the thicker the sleeping mat, the better it is at preventing heat loss, but look out for innovations that brands have developed to make sleeping mats lighter and more packable without compromising on performance, like reflective foil layers or insulation inside the mat. When an ‘R’ (resist) value is given, this indicates how well the sleeping mat “resists” heat loss so is an easy way to compare different models.

Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping bag liners are underrated bits of kit that offer a variety of benefits. Not only do they add an extra layer to provide more warmth, but they also offer a more pleasant next-to-skin feeling and keep your sleeping bag cleaner, meaning it’s less susceptible to damage from washing and it’ll last much longer. Win-win-win.

Lanterns

Contrary to popular belief, lanterns are much more useful inside a tent than your headtorch, although you should definitely bring that with you, too. Lanterns offer better dispersal of light meaning it’s usable by more people inside the tent – and makes it feel more cosy, since you’ll likely be spending your evenings inside.

Stove

A comforting hot drink is necessary on any cold day, whether you’re camping or not. Having boiling water available in minutes lets you make a warming cup of tea or coffee before bed, some comforting porridge before bed or even a hot water bottle to keep the inside of your sleeping bag extra warm. Be careful, though – most camping stoves are only designed to warm up water, so as tempting as it may be to use them to warm up a hot chocolate or soup, this can scorch the stove’s cup and inflict lasting damage.


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