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How to: sleep warm in the winter

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Dragging yourself into the snow and away from the cozy confines of your heated home can be difficult. However, for those of us addicted to the outdoors, we find ways to make adventuring in the winter bearable. Here we’ve got some tips for staying warm while sleeping in the snow.

Gear: An insulated sleeping pad is worth every pound, and you can find some for even less weight than that. Look for at least an inch of thickness to keep you off the cold ground. Bring a sleeping bag rated at 10 degree Fahrenheit or lower. Down sleeping bags help retain body heat extremely well, but be sure to keep it dry. Four-season tents are preferred because of their insulation, plus, you don’t want mesh fabric letting bitter cold wind sneak through.

Location, location: Pick a spot with a lot of trees around to block wind. Steer clear of sites by a river or lake, low-lying meadows, or summits, as they tend to be colder. When setting up your tent, check that the door is facing away from the wind.

Prep: Eat a big dinner filled with fats and proteins, because it will take your body a longer time to digest them. Go to the bathroom before bunkering down. And then go again. You do not want to wake up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself. Do some jumping jacks or crunches, as this will create body heat you can trap in your bag (just make sure it’s not so much that you start sweating).

Stay dry: The age-old trick of sleeping naked to stay warm only works if your other option is to sleep in wet clothing. Take all wet clothing off, and choose synthetic, silk, or wool fabrics for PJs. Make sure everything is dry on your body too, such as feet and hair.

Layer up: Throw all your extra clothes at the bottom by your feet. Tuck everything in tight so you don’t lose heat. Place a water bottle filled with hot water (maybe left over from cooking dinner) into the sack with you. Wear a hat and cinch the sleeping bag tight around your head.

Trying winter camping for the first time can be daunting, but once you master sleeping warm, you’ll keep your backpack ready for adventure all winter long.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Last modified: February 4, 2017

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