There are lots of variables you should take into consideration when determining how cold is too cold to go for tent camping.
Basically, nighttime temperatures of 30° or 40° Fahrenheit are too cold for tent camping for those who are inexperienced and have amateur gear. Nighttime temperatures of 50° to 70° Fahrenheit are most comfortable when camping.
If you are not sure whether you will be able to comfortably and safely camp, you must consider some factors and understand everything about temperature during night time and daytime.
Nighttime vs Daytime Temperature
If you’re going camping at a low elevation, the temperature will not drop too much during night time. But, in the mountains, it may be scorching hot during the daytime and freezing cold during night time. It is due to low air pressure.
If you cannot find the mountaintop temperature for where you’re going, you may keep this formula in mind:
- If there’s rain, snow or cloud, the temperature decreases to 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet.
- When there’s no rain or snow, the temperature decreases to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet in elevation.
This formula is not foolproof though. The temperatures may drop a lot more during the night time on a mountaintop than they do at the base.
Those individuals who go camping in the arctic have insane gear, which is ideal for extremely cold temperatures. They also have the knowledge to use it.
However, you have to take note that it’s only applicable for those who have a camping experience and decent gear like a 3-season tent and mummy sleeping bag.
Know More about Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings
A huge mistake that newbie campers make is using the rating of their sleeping bags to determine what temperature they could handle. Such sleeping bag ratings may be misleading.
You may have a sleeping bag rated for 32 degrees Fahrenheit and still, it’s too cold for camping in this temperature. It has something to do with how the sleeping bag is rated.
The majority of good sleeping bags use the rating system of EN 13537. This rating is basically determined by putting a heated manikin in the sleeping bag.
There are some sensors on manikin which determine temperature. With the use of this information, the range of sleeping bag’s temperature is determined.
Tent Camping Tips to Stay Comfortable in Cold Weather
There are many things that you can do to stay comfortable in cool weather. Below are some of the tips you should always remember when it’s too cold to go for tent camping:
1. Don’t Neglect Your Hands
To keep such digits warm, pack gloves and polyester glove liners, then gauntlets to layer over them. If you need a little boost for heat, stock up on the chemical heating pads.
2. Dress Properly
You should wear clothes that may keep you warm during inactivity periods. Odds are, you will make more heat during your backcountry trek, but it is tougher to keep a comfortable temperature once you stop moving.
So, it is best to layer up. Begin with your polyester thermal underwear for your base layer. Select breathable fleece for inhibiting the accumulation of perspiration during an exertion.
If you want natural fibers, choose wool-fleece and merino wool blends that offer wool’s warmth at a low price. Pack a neck gaiter or scarf that you may take on and off easily for regulating body temperature and consider taking a lightweight jacket that’s both breathable and waterproof.
Layering may also keep you feet and head warm. Wool or fleece stocking caps may be made windproof once covered with a detachable hood. 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. However, they must be water-repellent or waterproof, particularly if you are planning on hiking through snow.
3. Pick the Right Tent Camping Location
Summer campers will prefer the most secluded and shadiest spot. But, in winter, the morning sun may be a welcome companion. You should know where the sun would appear first at sunrise. For you to take advantage of the early sunlight, you should angle your tent.
4. Think of the Fire
Once you arrive at your preferred campsite, start making fire before you do any setup. Always plan ahead and pack some fire sources. You may go low-tech with a tightly packed dryer lint that is stuffed in the old pill bottles or high-tech with some magnesium fire starters.
In cold weather, you might not feel thirsty. However, like summer time, it is important to stay hydrated in winter. Drink water, hot chocolate or hot tea to get calorie fuel for your exciting outdoor adventure.
6. Be Prepared for Condensation
As you breathe in your warm tent, condensation would form even if it is a 4-season tent. Be prepared for it t snow down in the morning.
There isn’t a lot you may do about condensation, but the next morning, make sure to dry out your sleeping bag before you use it again. To lessen condensation, you may vent your tent at night. This will not hold in heat, but would stay drier.
7. Always Have Your Own Exit Plan
If you are tent camping, you must always have an exit plan in extreme cold temperature. Always think of the worst case scenario.
8. Wear Quick-Drying and Breathable Layers
Layering clothes will help you adjust to the fluctuations of the temperature. Breathable materials would prevent you from getting cold and sweating. Synthetics and wool are ideal than cotton since they dry much faster.
9. Check Forecasts with the Park Rangers
The forecasts you find over the internet do not always account for the temperature fluctuations. If you are in doubt, contact the ranger and ask about the weather conditions.
Winter is also a great time for tent camping. The only key is to take note of those tips above and be knowledgeable about temperatures.