As we head towards the end of winter, our 2016 opening date of 1st March is fast approaching . The days are becoming longer, the sun has a little warmth in it, signs of spring’s arrival are appearing and for many of us, our thoughts turn to our first camping trip of the season. But don’t be fooled, brisk outdoor walks, long days cycling and cosy nights in the pub are all very well but when the sun goes down, the temperature can drop dramatically so be prepared with our top 7 tips for keeping yourself and your family warm at night.
- Sleeping bag
Make sure you have a good quality, temperature rated sleeping bag. Generally speaking a 1 season sleeping bag is suitable for summer, a 2 season sleeping bag is suitable for summer and spring, a 3 season sleeping bag is suitable for spring, summer and autumn and a 4 season sleeping bag is suitable for all year round. Always choose a sleeping bag that will provide more warmth than you may think is necessary and don’t forget that women tend to feel the cold more than men.
When thinking about the shape of your sleeping bag, remember that mummy sleeping bags taper towards the feet and are therefore more fitted than regular rectangular bags, thus improving heat retention. They also generally have a hood which helps to keep warmth in so if you’re expecting temperatures to be low, choose a mummy shaped bag. Having said that, rectangular sleeping bags are available in double sizes and are ideal for adults, or several small children, where combined body heat will create extra warmth.
Another good idea is to invest in a sleeping bag liner which gives an extra layer thus increasing insulation.
- Sleeping mat
One of the most important things to remember when preparing your bed is to ensure good insulation between you and the ground. Whilst an air bed provides a high level of comfort when camping, a foam sleeping mat offers more insulation since air mattresses, filled with cold air, will drain the heat from you. If you want comfort and warmth, layering is again the key. You could put an insulating blanket or sleeping mat on top of, and/or under, your air bed. Emergency blankets and the silver lined picnic blankets, both of which we sell in our shop, are ideal to use.
- What to wear
Once again, layers are the key to keeping warm. For comfort wear thin thermal layers against the skin and fleecy outer layers. Make sure your night wear isn’t too tight as this will reduce the insulation they provide. A word on onesies – whilst they may seem cosy, don’t forget that if you need to make a trek to the toilet block in the night, you’ll need to virtually undress to do the necessary so separate tops and bottoms are more practical.
A hat is a good addition as a lot of your body heat is lost through your head. Don’t be tempted to put your head inside your sleeping bag because your breath creates condensation which can ultimately make you colder throughout the night.
Finally, warm fleecy socks and even gloves will help significantly and ensure that you are toasty warm all night long.
- Tent heaters
The first thing to say about tent heaters is that they do pose a fire risk so extreme care should be taken when using them. We would never recommend a gas heater and would advise against leaving any heater on whilst you are asleep. In addition to this, NEVER take a camp stove or BBQ into your tent when ventilation is poor, not only is this an extreme fire risk but the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is high.
Safety issues aside, one of the simplest ways to heat your tent is with an electric heater. It is essential that you have a heater suitable for use with an electric hook-up, not a domestic heater, or you will trip your own electric supply and also that of your neighbours. Our hook-ups have a 10amp supply so do your research before you purchase or you may end up with something you can’t use whilst camping.
- Go to bed warm
Warmth originates from within and any insulation from a sleeping bag or clothing is merely concerned with keeping it there. It’s pointless bedding down if you’re already freezing, so get warm by doing some vigorous exercise like star-jumps before going to bed or performing sit-ups or press-ups in your sleeping bag. Another good tip is to drink something hot, but not filled with caffeine, shortly before going to bed, it will give you a ‘warm feeling’ in your chest and stomach which is surprisingly helpful.
- Remember that dampness equals chilliness.
Although you may feel that opening your ventilation flaps will make your tent colder, the opposite is in fact true. By keeping your tent ventilated, you can reduce the dampness and condensation thereby keeping you and the inside of your tent dryer – which keeps you warmer throughout the night. Also equally important is that you keep yourself from sweating. If you wake up and notice that you are sweating … remove some layers to keep dry.
- Hot water bottles etc.
A hot water bottle is a great idea and you might like to consider investing in self-heating hand warmers which are great for keeping feet warm too.
So, follow these tips and you’ll stay toasty and comfortable all night long!