What do you want to do this weekend? We could binge watch something, or hit the sales, or… go camping in 28-degree weather!
Cold weather camping is a fact of life for anyone who likes sleeping outside in Oregon. Unless you only camp in August,* you are going to be out on some cold nights. These don’t always go well. My first two February camping trips were miserable, sleepless, ice-fests. A few years and a fierce devotion to a good base layer later, and I now get really excited about waking up in a snow covered tent.
The basics of keeping warm are the same found in the Cold Mom post. (Cold Mom Edition: The Art and Science of Keeping Warm) Start with a thin wicking layer to keep moisture away. Add a mid-layer to trap your body’s heat. Finish with a top layer to keep heat in and weather out.
I just want to do all that, and not look like the Michelin Man**. Totally doable, right?
Here’s what I pack for a cold weather camping trip:
• 1 sweatshirt
• 2 dry-fit long sleeved t-shirts
• 1 jacket with insulated core
• 1 pair stretch climbing pants
• 1 pair of insulated leggings
• 1 pair fleece-lined joggers
• 1 down coat
• Smart wool long underwear top and bottom
• 1 pair tennis shoes, 1 pair warm ankle boots
•Wool socks, wool hat, warm mittens
This list can be added to depending on the length of time you’ll be out, but for our standard weekend trip, it works just fine. Read on for tips on combining these pieces over a weekend.
Daytime: Hiking, climbing, etc
On my most recent trip, day one saw my Prana Kara jeans, a long-sleeve t-shirt and a wind-resistant jacket with a quilted core. This is a standard Smith Rock ensemble for me. It keeps my core warm but my arms and legs free to hike, scramble, gesticulate wildly as I remarked on the beauty around me.
Day two, when there was actual snow on the ground, I wore insulated tights, a long sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt and my down jacket. The jacket came on and off with regularity, but I was really glad to have it with me.
Because the days are active, and a little warmer, I don’t include a base layer on my legs.
Evening/nighttime/morning: Eating, reading, talking, sleeping
There are no fires allowed at the Smith Rock bivy campground, so once the sun goes down and I become significantly less active, I need my clothes to do the work of keeping me warm. When I finish up my physical activity for the day, I put on my smart wool base layer immediately. Over that I wear lined joggers and a warm sweatshirt. As it gets colder, I add mittens, a hat and finally my down jacket. To go to sleep I strip back down to the base layer and let my amazing sleeping bag trap my body heat for the night.
As with your workout wardrobe, (Your Workout Wardrobe) it makes sense to keep your cold-weather camping gear down to a few basic colors, and find things that coordinate as needed. Because my coat is black and bright pink, I limit my wardrobe to cool colors. Sticking with black and saturated jewel tones is pretty easy, then I sneak in some grey and olive where it works.
What I don’t pack
For cold weather camping, I don’t tend to take a puffer vest. Readers of this blog know of my deep and undying love for a down filled vest, but I find they are more useful when it’s kind of cold, as opposed to really cold. The same goes for plaid flannel. Most flannel is cotton, and therefore given to holding on to moisture. While it may look great sitting around the bivy, unless it’s wicking or waterproof, it’s not real practical in the wintertime.
My favorite thing about these cold weather camping basics is that they open doors for adventure that were previously closed. With very little thought on my part I can head out with my family and rely on these pieces to keep me warm, dry and up for anything.
Do you have favorite pieces for cold weather camping? Let me know in the comments below.
* And there is nothing wrong with only camping in August.
** Did you know the Michelin man is named Bibendum? It’s true. Plus he’s super old, born in 1894.