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What temperature is too cold for camping?

April 8, 2021| Camping

You cannot just pack your bags and go camping without prior planning and knowing the temperature of the area where you are going. Just picking up your bags by filling whatever you feel like and whatever clothes you think would look good on you is not a good choice if you find extreme cold temperatures on the go.  There are lots of factors that you should take into consideration when determining how cold is too cold to go for tent camping. 

Fundamentally, the worst temperatures of 30° or 40° Fahrenheit are too cold for tent camping for those who are not experienced and have amateur gear with them. Nighttime temperatures of 50° to 70° Fahrenheit are most secure and relaxing when camping.

If you are not sure about being able to comfortably and safely camp, you must ponder some factors and have an understanding of everything temperature during nighttime and daytime.

Nighttime vs Daytime Temperature changes

If you are planning to go camping at a very low elevation, the chances are the temperature will not decrease too much during night time. But meanwhile the chances are different for the mountains, it may be scorching hot in the daytime and freezing cold during night time. this is all due to low air pressure in these areas. 

If you cannot find the mountaintop temperature for where you are going, here is the formula that you need to keep in mind before going to the camping trip:

  • When there is rain, snow or cloud, the temperature decreases to 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet.
  • If there is no rain or snow, the temperature decreases to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet in elevation. 

You can just keep this formula in mind but, this formula is not guaranteed though. There are the chances that the temperatures may drop a lot more during the night time on a mountaintop than they do at the bottom.

Those backpackers who are habitual of going to camping in the cold weather, have some extra ordinary gear with them, that gear is ideal for exceptionally cold temperatures. They also have the proper expertise to use it. Nevertheless, you have to take note that it is only appropriate for those who have a proper camping experience and pro gear like a 3-season tent and mummy sleeping bag.

How to choose Sleeping Pads for your Camping Trip

More information about Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

The biggest mistake that immature campers make is using the rating of their sleeping bags to decide what temperature they could handle. All of these sleeping bag ratings can be wrong If not perfectly accurate.

For instance, you may have a sleeping bag rated for 32 degrees Fahrenheit and still, it can be too cold for camping in this temperature. It has a lot to do with how the sleeping bag is rated.

A lot of good sleeping bags use the rating system of EN 13537. This rating can be ultimately concluded by putting a heated model in the sleeping bag. There are some of the sensors on manikin which can verify temperature. With the use of this information, the range of sleeping bag’s temperature is determined. 

Also Read: Sleeping Bag Liners Guide

Some Tent Camping Instructions to Stay Comfortable in Cold Weather

There are a lot of things that you may be concerned about to stay comfortable in extremely cool weather. Listed down below are some of the tips and tricks that you should always keep in mind when it is extremely cold to go for tent camping:

1. Do not Overlook Your Hands

To keep your hands warm, you need to pack some extra ordinary warming gloves as well as polyester glove liners, then gauntlets to wear over them for layering.

If you consider a little improvement for heat, you may also stock up on the chemical heating pads for your hands.

2. Dress Properly

You must wear those kinds of clothes that may keep you warm during inactivity periods. It is for sure that you will produce more heat during your backcountry trek, but it is even harder to keep a comfortable and relaxing temperature once you stop moving. So, the best option is to always layer up. You must start with your polyester thermal underwear for your bottom layer. You must always select breathable fleece for preventing the accumulation of perspiration during an exertion. 

If you are someone who would prefer to wear natural fibers, go for wool-fleece and merino wool combinations because that would offer wool’s warmth and that also in low cost. You also need to pack a neck gaiter or scarf that you may take on and off easily for changing body temperature and think about taking a lightweight jacket that is both breathable and waterproof for your ease.

Read More: Can you wear hiking pants while hiking?

Layering yourself will also keep your feet and head warm to bear such cold weather. Wool or fleece stocking caps may be made windproof once it is covered with a detachable hood. You can also use wool instead of cotton socks or the ones used for hiking like polyester socks. 

When it comes to boots, it does not need to be expensive. Nevertheless, they must be water-repellent or waterproof, especially if you are planning on hiking through snow.

3. You Must Pick the Proper Tent Camping Location

People who tend to camp in the summer seasons will choose the most sheltered and shadiest spot for camping. But it is different in the winter season, the morning sun may be a welcome companion for you. You must have the proper knowledge about where the sun would appear first at sunrise. For you to keep yourself warm during the extreme cold and to take advantage of the early sunlight, you should angle your tent accordingly. 

Read More: 15 Best Beginner Hiking Trails in United States

4. Think About the Fire

Once you reach your desired campsite, you must consider making fire before you do anything else. Always plan for the future accordingly and pack some fire sources with yourself. You can also consider going low-tech with a tightly packed dryer lint that is stuffed in the old pill bottles or high-tech with some magnesium fire starters.

5. Hydrate yourself

In extreme cold weather, there are less chances for you to feel thirsty. Though, same as in summer season it is essential to stay hydrated in winter as well. You must drink water, hot chocolate or hot tea to get calorie fuel for your exciting outdoor camping adventure.

6. Get Yourself Prepared for Condensation

As you breathe in your warm tent, condensation would form no matter if it were a 4-season tent. You must be prepared for it. There is not a lot you may do about it, but in the next morning, make sure to dry out your sleeping bag before you use it again the next day. To reduce the condensation, you may have to vent your tent at night. This will not hold in heat but would stay drier.

Read More: How long does it take to hike a mile?

7. Always Have Your Own Exit Plan

If you are tent camping, you must always have an exit plan in severe cold temperature. You must always think about the worst case scenarios.

8. You Must Wear Quick-Drying and Breathable Layers

As said earlier layering clothes will help you adjust to the variations of the temperature that you may face during the camping trip. Breathable materials would prevent you from getting cold and sweating at times. Synthetics and wool are perfect than cotton since they can dry much faster.

9. Check Forecasts Before Planning for The Trip

The forecasts you find over the internet are not always accurate for the temperature fluctuations. If you are in any doubt, you can contact the ranger and ask about the weather circumstances.

No doubt that the winter season is also a great time for tent camping. The only key is to take note of those tips above and be knowledgeable about temperatures.

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