View Full Version : winter camping--how not to freeze?

Oct. 12, 2009, 11:45 AM
saturday night we camped and the temps went down to 30 degrees. all three of us slept in the horse trailer, the guy in the gooseneck stayed pretty toasty with his blanketss on his air mattress, however we two women in the horse area were very cold. i slept on my air matress with three sheets which i laid under a spread out lined jacket, which was under a full size sheepskin.
as long as i was able to stay directly on the sheepskin the cold coming from under the trailer was ok.
still, i had a sheet and a fleece blanket and a horse blanket over me and i was still cold.
my friend slept on her cot with similar bedding and we both wore many layers as well, and she was still cold too.
the horse are we slept in is sixteen feet of totally open space, no dividers or anything, and all windows were closed. i did forget to close the air vents on top, though.
obviously we need to be better equipped, i'm thinking of starting with a couple of those nasa blanket liner things. plus, i cannot stand being confined in a sleeping bag, and dislike sleeping with clothes at all, so need to find what, maybe a double bag? over a nasa blanket? i'd love to someday afford a sheepskin cover fro the entire bed, they are fairly pricey, though.
what else do you suggest for tight budgets?
thanks, i hope we can do some more camping before the weather gets too awful in new england.

Oct. 12, 2009, 11:59 AM
You probably just need to look into cold weather backpacking gear. I say backpacking vs camping simply because it seems to me that once you cross into camping gear, the size/weight of the equipment can get unruly. Backpacking HAS to mean lightweight, functional and tote-able. Go-Lite can be expensive but has some fantastic equipment and some nice sales (or they used to when I was involved in Adventure Racing). Even though you're on a budget, I would avoid places like Walmart -- you just won't be happy in the end.

Oct. 12, 2009, 12:13 PM
put an eggcrate bed liner between you and the air mattress, secure it with your sheet.

Put a turtlefur (http://www.turtlefur.com/tforiginals.php) on your head :) and wool socks on your feet :) I don't think you can get away with nekkid in a freezing tube of steel, but I could be wrong :cool:

My LL Bean down filled sleeping bag rocks, and can completely be unzipped into a flat blanket. That, on top of an egg crate over an air mattress, and a turtlefur on my head, I'm good.

Bank of Dad
Oct. 12, 2009, 01:06 PM
Try putting blankets or padding like carpet between the air mattress and the floor of the trailer. That keeps some of the cold from permeating thru the air mattress.

cheryl ann
Oct. 12, 2009, 01:19 PM
Don't use an air-only mattress. Use a self-inflating camp pad and/or a foam-only camp pad or combination of the two.

It's the cold air in the air mattress that your body is trying to heat that is keeping you cold. You could also lay down some of those foam squares that one gets at Home Depot or Pep Boys, on the floor of your trailer before putting your camp pads down on top. If you're feeling industrious, you can also have some of those foam squares to line the walls of the trailer down where you're sleeping. If sleeping on a cot, use a self-inflating pad or foam-only pad, also; again no air-only mattress.

In my steel bp trailer, I was always less comfortable than I was when sleeping in my truck tent; all that cold steel, I guess.

And, oh, I dream of a sheepskin comforter!

Heart's Journey
Oct. 12, 2009, 01:36 PM
Camp in Florida!! sorry just had to do it. Our camping season runs from Oct - April while the rest of you are freezing your butts off. We're currently having record heat 92 ugh with about 80% humidity...

I was busy loading the trailer this weekend as we're heading out Thurs for our first campout of the season and I had to stop frequently to rest and drink water... its finally supposed to break this Fri and only get up to 84....

Painted Horse
Oct. 12, 2009, 02:23 PM
I do a lot of cold weather camping. And yes I prefer to not to be stuffed in a mummy bag, But Sometimes a good sleeping bag will make the difference.

1st. As stated above, you have to insulate yourself from the cold under neath. If you are staying at your trailer. weight is not an issue. If you are packing in someplace, then compact and light is an issue. I don't know what your budget is, so here are a couple of suggestions. At the trailer, put an old piece of carpet down below your pad/mattress. Cost Cheap. Look into buying some of that memory foam. The type that you put on top of a regular mattress. Overstock.com sells different sizes $50-$100. A 4" piece of foam will stop a lot of cold and give you some comfort to lay on. This is what I have put up in my gooseneck for my bed. The camp pads from companies like Thermal Rest come in various thickness. The thicker the pad, the more it weighs and the bulkier it is and the more it cost. Camp pads have a layer of nylon or other fabric to protect the inner foam. They roll up reasonable compact and usually have the velcro ties to secure the roll. None of which a standard piece of memory foam have.

2nd. After the pad is in place you need some sort of sleeping bag or blankets. Sheets are purely for comfort and add no warmth. So a good bag or heavy blankets, down comfortor are needed to hold in your body heat. I use a sleeping bag with a 0 temp rating. Sleeping bags come in different sizes. Get a big bag if you don't like being confined. Remember that sleeping bags only RETAIN your own body heat. The bigger the bag, the more area you have to heat with your own body heat.

3rd add heat. If what ever bedding you have chosen is not keeping you warm, you need to add heat from an external source. An electric blanket running off your generator work wells for this. You will have to see if the camp area you are staying at allows the generator to run all night. I personally don't like to have heater that runs on a combustable fuel running at night while I sleep. ie Propane tent heats. I worry too much about carbon Monoxide poisening. On pack trips, I have heated large rocks in the fire and slid them into the bottom of my sleeping bag to add heat. Others have put boiling water in a hot water bottle and put it in their sleeping bag.

My wall tent that we use for winter camping has a wood burning stove. It works well. The chimney goes out the top of the tent venting all smoke and fumes out the top and the canvas fabric allows enough air to infiltrate so that the fire doesn't starve all the oxygen in the tent. I have slept comfortable at 10* on cots in the tent. We have to throw a log on the fire every 3-4 hours.

Oct. 12, 2009, 03:13 PM
Try putting blankets or padding like carpet between the air mattress and the floor of the trailer. That keeps some of the cold from permeating thru the air mattress.

Newspaper works too.

Oct. 12, 2009, 03:47 PM
I am in the SW and do endurance rides in the winter in which the daytime temps are usually beautiful but it gets down into the 30s or even 20s at night. Definitely get some good insulation under you. You really need a good sleeping bag too, just blankets arent going to cut it, although I do cover my sleeping bag with some blankets as well. I use a sleeping bag that is rated down to 0 degrees. Even then, I sleep in several layers of clothing including usually a coat. I also use one of those head cover things that cover your entire head and neck so that only some of your face is exposed, and good socks and mittens.

Oct. 12, 2009, 03:50 PM
1. Get good double sleeping bag.

2. Get former North Dakota farm boy in grad school.

3. You will stay warm. (worked years ago for me when I lived in St Louis and we went canoeing and camping in the ozarks, Little Current and 11 Forks rivers.):lol:

Oct. 12, 2009, 05:51 PM
Thermacare heat wraps can help or you can get the Reusable Instant Heat Packs.

Make sure you wear wool socks.

Minerva Louise
Oct. 12, 2009, 05:54 PM
One thing to remember is that with no ventilation, the moisture that you breathe out is going to humidify the air inside the trailer making it damp in the trailer, and dampness will steal warmth away veeerrrrry quickly. One of my hubby's favorite army stories is from the days he spent with the Joint Reserve Training Center. He was one of the permanent people at the JRTC and was somehow stuck with a group of guys that were in for training. These guys opted to sleep inside an armored personel carrier on a 20 degree night. Hubby opted to sleep outside, ON TOP of the thing (also on top of the rucksacks which made for nice insulation). The in-training guys emerged in the morning, miserable, cold and wet. Hubby reports having slept quite well. The insides of the personel carrier were dripping...

You may stay warmer with the windows on the trailer open rather than closed.

Oct. 12, 2009, 09:28 PM
I also camped last weekend with temps in the 20s, with snow accumulation. It was COLD! I'm a broke-@$$ college student, so I can tell you it IS possible to stay warm on a tight budget. :) You can get creative with stuff you already have, and supplement with thrift store stuff and space blankets.

The very best thing you can do for free is gather a couple of big rocks. Make sure they're dry. Heat them up in the camp fire, then take them off and cool them until they're just cool enough not to boil a drop of water. Wrap them carefully in a thick towel and put them at the foot of your sleeping bag. They'll still be warm in the morning when you wake up, and it is WONDERFUL to feel the heat radiating up onto your feet. (Cost = $0)

Oh, how I'd love to have a nice quality 0 degree sleeping bag. Alas, I have a $20 Target special, rated to 40 degrees (but really, you're freezing at 50 :lol:).

I put a space blanket down first (cost = $.99). Then two cheap foam pads (cost = $10). Next is an oversize comforter from my bed. Both comforter and space blanket are lined up to wrap around my crappy sleeping bag, which goes down next. I fold the blankets around the sleeping bag so I can still get to the zipper, then I tuck the oversize comforter under at the bottom so there's a double layer under my feet. The space blanket wraps around everything.

The last thing I put on is a snuggly velour blanket over the top. This keeps the space blanket from sliding off during the night. You can also pull it up over your head to keep your face warm, but it's light enough to allow you to breathe. :D

Yep, sleeping in clothes does suck, but it beats lying awake shivering. I sleep in a sweatshirt, long johns, and a pair of loose-fitting old breeches. I wear a stocking cap and wool socks.

The rocks go in the sleeping bag about ten minutes before bed, so it's nice and warm by the time I get there. I spend most of the night thanking my lucky stars for the rocks, because they are really that amazing. :lol: The space blanket makes a big difference, too. They're loud and crinkly, but they really work. It sure is hard to get out of that warm sleeping bag in the morning!

So, in conclusion, it's a lot of extra work, but with a little creativity you can keep yourself toasty warm without spending a ton of money. Of course given the choice, I'd rather spend money on good quality gear, but we make do with what we have. ;)

Oct. 13, 2009, 01:25 AM
Toastie Toes warming packs are a miracle. I went camping a couple of years ago in November. It got down to 15 the first night. I had on every layer of clothes including a long down jacket and was freezing. (sleeping in dressing room). The next night a friend pulled out a large bag full of the toastie toes( I get mine at Walmart) since several of us complained about freezing the night before. I put several in the bottom of my sleeping bag and actually ditched a few layers of clothes and was very comfortable. The last few times I have camped, I have slept in the horse area on a cot. Definitely ditch the air mattress. My cot has a thin mattress/cushion and then I put my sleeping bag on top of that as an extra cushion and then sheets and blankets so more like a real bed. So comfortable.

Oct. 13, 2009, 01:55 AM
I camped out this past weekend. It was overcast and drizzling rain. It was 59 degrees at the lowest and 63 at the highest. Certainly not freezing but it was cool. The cool was coming from below me - the air mattress was very cool. I am going back in two weeks and I will be covering the mattress with a heavy blanket first.

At home I have found 2 heavy sheets are excellent for warmth without being too heavy but in cold climates that might not cut the mustard! I am going to take a couple of blankets with me and like the idea of the hot rocks! LOL you could also take a brick to heat up if you don't have rocks in the area you are going to.

Going to thrift shops is a great idea. I used to work for Goodwill Industries and they often have great items for extremely reasonable prices.

Oct. 13, 2009, 05:01 AM
Going to thrift shops is a great idea. I used to work for Goodwill Industries and they often have great items for extremely reasonable prices.

Thrift stores can be wonderful. I like and use comforters BUT.

Consider: some comforters are stiff, i.e. do not DRAPE (=lay against your body) well.
If a blanket does not drape well, large air spaces with convection currents develop,
or, even worst, your shoulder/neck area will be exposed to cold air.

Generally wool drapes better than synthetics. Any knit or woven blanket drapes better
than the monolithic, pressed fibers (like felt). Avoid stiff blankets, unless they are for wall hanging.

For underneath you, there are competing interests.
You need padding (soft compressible) for comfort in any temperatures.
And you need padding that does not compress too much for warmth.

Women usually have, or can find, a few pair of very stretchy polyester double knit
pants and tops. Unisex warm-up suits of the 1970's were made of this material,
but no longer. Wear a large knit cap. How you dress for bed makes a big difference.

Oct. 13, 2009, 02:05 PM
Hubby and I cold weather Backpack every year in the mountains of NC. Generally I find that keeping us warm isn't the biggest problem, it's keeping our (short coat) dog's warm. :D

We both have down +15 mummy bags, although I am dying to get a subzero as I sleep quite cold. DH, I refer to as my space heater, since he sleeps hot and is usually fine in the +15. Down is your friend although you have to keep it dry. Primaloft is also a godsend... and it insulates when wet, unlike down.

This is us Easter 2007 (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=529557&l=345b12c7c8&id=578147844) and I will admit I froze my butt off that night. FWIW, they were only calling for flurries, not the two feet we got! But I have learned a lot since then. Since you are truck camping... those heat packets are a good idea and they will last all night. Don't keep them next to your skin though, keep them one layer away. Wear a warm beanie cap so you won't lose body heat out of your head and try to keep it covered.

Condensation is NOT good, so ventilation is key. The last thing you want is to wake up cold... and wet. Trust me.

Oct. 13, 2009, 03:16 PM
Get yourself a catalytic tent heater, like a Coleman SportCat:


I used one this past June while camping when the evening temps were in the 40s. I'd turn it on for about 10 minutes before going to bed and I had a nice and toasty tent. (You don't leave it on while sleeping.)

Ditto on making sure there's ventilation to let the moisture escape.

I've got a fantastic sleeping bag as well. It's an extra large rectangle shape (I sleep on my side/stomach so a mummy sack won't work). I got it at Cabela's, the brand name is Trekker. I love it because when zipped up it keeps me warm outside in a tent, and unzipped it works great inside LQ/cabins.

Also agree with those who say not to use a regular air mattress.

I'd get a Thermarest like these:



JackSprats Mom
Oct. 13, 2009, 09:28 PM
We have to throw a log on the fire every 3-4 hours.
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p...unting-018.jpg (http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p...unting-018.jpg)

The compressed logs you can get for woodstoves work GREAT and with the damper closed just right last 8 hours and put out heat :yes:

Painted Horse
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:43 AM
We have a forest of trees all around us at most of our camps. I'd rather wake up every 4 hours and throw another log in the stove than pack compressed logs 7 miles up the mountain. :)

As stated above. Make sure the rocks are dry. Wet rocks can explode when they get hot.

Fairview Horse Center
Oct. 14, 2009, 01:05 AM
4" twin memory foam on top of hay bales. Double sleeping bag rated for as low as possible. Stuff a down comforter into the sleeping bag. Sleep in sweat pants and hooded sweat shirt.

Also, solid fuel handwarmers. http://www.amazon.com/Texsport-27930-Solid-Fuel-Handwarmer/dp/B002LFSLIA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1255493364&sr=8-3

They use a stick that slowly burns in the case. It will stay HOT for 4 to 6 hours, but sometimes can be difficult to get started. You just light the end, and keep the case open for about 15 minutes until it is glowing really well. Then close the case. Mine had a fabric (like felt) bag that the case slipped into. Then it definitely could not pop open.

Oct. 14, 2009, 01:25 AM
I find all kinds of good camping stuff, for cheap, at the local army surplus store and 'recreation outlet' store. Recently picked up a 0 degree rated mummy bag for $29.

I often sleep in my two horse bp when truck camping- way easier than pitching a tent- it has a curtain on the back which I put down and I use my comfy cot, one of the compact air mattresses, and a sleeping bag. Toasty.

Nov. 29, 2009, 11:59 PM
If it's really cold and you want to heat up your sleeping bag, you can put boiling water into a Sigg bottle. Then place the bottle into your sleeping bag. It is easy to do, cheap and quite effective.
As mentioned in this thread, there are great bargains to be found at army surpuls stores. I've also bought a few "Swiss Gear" products at Sam's Club and found them to be of good quality. They have a zero degree bag pretty cheap. I have one that I've used a lot and found to be nice and roomy - but I haven't put it to the zero-degree test - but it would certianly be a good bag at least down to the teens - of course you have to have a closed cell foam pad or the equivalent for insulating under the bag but this has been covered thoroughly in the thread already.

Dec. 2, 2009, 03:19 PM
Best way to stay warm when camping? Space heater. :D I don't have electric in my trailer, or a generator, but often camp places that do. I'll run an extension cord through the door or window and the space heater works wonders.

I also have a down filled sleeping bag that I use as a blanket, not zipped. I sleep pretty bare, but if needed, will wear socks and a tight fitting long sleeved shirt.

Lots of blankets is the key. UNDER you. Not sheets. Wool is best.

Dec. 11, 2009, 05:24 PM
What Beverley said.

Army Navy stores have inexpensive cold weather gear and sleeping bags. Very economical. They also have the little heating units and stoves.

Sure cheaper than those big box sporting goods stores.

Dec. 20, 2009, 03:23 AM
I go to Emmanence Mo twice a year for ten days each time.
June and OCtober. While the june ride can be pretty warm the
october ride can get cold.

The people I go with have living quarters set up for just the two of them.
Their trailer twenty years old and in great shape has a full back door
that swings open and the sides of the trailer are also open. They made
wood sides to fit in the openings for october. When we get we clean the
back of the trailer out. I had measured and cut a blue tarp to hang over the wood sides. I hang thoose and then I put garbage bags up over the blue tarps using magnetic tape. After that a blue tarp is put on the floor with
a small piece of carpet over that. I picked up a camp cot at the
local thrift store for five bucks and I have a twin vinyl coated four inch
piece of foam. I put that on top the cot and put a flannel sheet on the
pad. I put my sleeping bag on that. The underside of the back door
has about a 1 1/2 inch gap so I cut a piece of foam rubber and stuff under
the door. We do have electric hook up so I have a small electric heater
that I use at night. I also have a porta pot too. In june I do the
same thing only the wood sides arent' on so I actually have thoose
heavy duty grip clamps I put the tarp up to the sides with that
and cover the tarp with the garbage bag. They have a 3/4 escape door
a piece of plywood goes in the escape door then the small airconditioner
goes into the hole in the plywood.

Here at home. I have a two horse stock type trailer with open sides
when I camp at some of the parks I cover the sides with the tarp as
I do with the other trailer above and just put my cot in the back of
trailer. When it gets cold I always take potatoes with me wrapped in
aluminum foil. I throw them in the campfire and before going to bed
I get them out of the campfire and put them inside my sleeping bag at my
feet. At times I will take two sleeping bags and stuff one inside the other.

I would suggest you use flannel sheets on the air mattress. They are
a bit thicker than a regular sheet and your sleeping bag won't slide
on the flannel. Flannel sheets can sometimes be found at a thrift store.

Dec. 20, 2009, 06:33 AM
The Boyscouts camp in sub zero temps and have a booklet that gives great winter camping tips. Our boys camped in shelter made from pine boughs in -2* last winter and swear they were warm. Maybe you can find a scout with a spare copy. I do know they say do not use an air matress and do not wear cotton clothing as it retains moisture.

Ridge Runner
Dec. 20, 2009, 10:54 AM
You probably just need to look into cold weather backpacking gear. I say backpacking vs camping simply because it seems to me that once you cross into camping gear, the size/weight of the equipment can get unruly. Backpacking HAS to mean lightweight, functional and tote-able. Go-Lite can be expensive but has some fantastic equipment and some nice sales (or they used to when I was involved in Adventure Racing). Even though you're on a budget, I would avoid places like Walmart -- you just won't be happy in the end.

Very good suggestion and I was going to say the same thing. Check out backpacking gear. My husband and I are into backpacking and we are headed out for a winter hike in the mtns of Georgia the day after Christmas on the Appalachian Trail.

You need to lose the air mattress also...an uninsulated air mattress is a fast way to be cold all night. They make insulated air mattresses (what we use) as well as self inflating insulated mattresses that are a bit heavier.

A mummy bag with down is probably the lightest/warmest you can get. A sleeping bag liner is also a good idea and can serve as a summer sleeping bag. We are using North Face 20F bags with a warm liner in ours...and ours are synthetic due to my allergies for down.

Two great places to shop for good outdoor gear is www.campmor.com and www.rei.com

Dec. 21, 2009, 11:52 AM
1. Get good double sleeping bag.

2. Get former North Dakota farm boy in grad school.

3. You will stay warm. (worked years ago for me when I lived in St Louis and we went canoeing and camping in the ozarks, Little Current and 11 Forks rivers.):lol:

Perhaps I could rent out Mr Jeano. He is like sleeping with a blast furnace. We camped out in an unheated shed with an airbed, a double sleeping bag with a down comfortor over it, and our cat.

A zillion years ago I went winter camping with some college buddies. My sleeping bag was completely inadequate and I had to double up with one of the buds. It was too cold to get romantic, even. Nothing froze but I didnt feel warm until I got back to the dorm and took a loooong hot shower. Ah, impetuous youth.

Dec. 21, 2009, 02:36 PM
The b/f and I haven't done any winter camping together, though he's talked about past trips where he woke up with two inches of snow on the ground.

However, we HAVE had some very chilly camping trips in the past. Back in October, we spent a week at Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois and it rained (that kind of misty rain that sends a chill through you). I think temperatures dipped into the upper 30s one night, and it was too miserable to have much of a campfire.

Fortunately, the week before we left on that trip I found a set of those really plush flannel sheets on sale/clearance. I also brought along my own electric blanket with dual controls, since we'd have electric hookup at the site.

My boyfriend was thanking me ALL WEEK for bringing that blanket along. . .definitely made the cold, damp evenings more tolerable.

At least until it was time to get out of bed in the morning to go feed.:D

Dec. 21, 2009, 04:02 PM
Even though you don't want to get nekkid, take off those warm clothes you have been wearing all day and put on warm sleeping clothes. I sleep in poly pro long underwear (and I wear a hat to bed).

wool is the best fabric. I put a wool army navy blanket ($20) (also works as cooler for my horse when I am willing to share), under my sheets.

Coleman makes a nice catalytic heater that runs off propane that won't kill you and will take the chill off before you snuggle in.

eat spicy foods (honest)

Dec. 21, 2009, 07:00 PM
At one time in my life I camped every month of the year for 4 years straight and we don't exactly live in the banana belt. I will say that the rating on a sleeping bag is the temperature that you will still be alive in the morning at. This is not the temperature that you will sleep comfortably at. I have a big old Kodiak bag from cabelas. It is a heavy pig but I don't backpack and if I go into the high country I take a pack horse. I also have a canvas bedroll cover. It is a heavy canvas that encases my bag and my pad. It keeps the air from getting me from the below when on my cot, or the frozen ground from coming up through the bottom. One of my best nights sleep was at -10 and a clear as a bell night. I rolled out my bedroll and climbed in. DO NOT sleep in the clothes that you have been wearing. Change to fresh clothes before bed. I strip clear to my BVD's then wear thermals or just my Fruit of the Looms. The right equipment is imperative to having a good experience.

Story time... Please do not read if you can't laugh at my expense.

I am camping in late November. The temperature is to be about 0 and we were settling down for bed. We had eaten a hearty meal of baked bean, dutch oven potatoes, grilled steaks, and a side of lemon raspberry cobbler. Yea, we rough it. :cool: Anyhow, I have sleep apnea and sleep with a CPAP. Basicly a blower that keeps the positive air flowing. I love my little sleeping machine and hook it to a battery and an inverter to sleep. So I get all in bed and fall right to sleep. I awake about an hour later to an icy nose. The mask had ice crystals on the inside. I was a pretty unhappy camper. Being the resourceful person I am I figure stuff the blower into my bag then the air won't be as cold. So I am back to sleep breathing the warmer air, warm and toasty in my bag. Well beans, potatoes and meat along with my gut the digester had created an awful brew. I let a little gas off in my sleep and the blower sucked up that warm albeit smelly air and blew it in my face. :eek: I woke up coughing and gagging looking for fresh air and couldn'e get the mask off. The only consolation is that it was my stink instead of someone else and I was warm. LF

Aug. 15, 2016, 06:24 PM

We are using our Earth Products Jamboree Military Style Aluminum Camping Cots (http://campingandcamping.com/earth-products-jamboree-military-style-camping-cot-review/) for 3 years already. We have two of them (me and my wife). We mostly go camping in the warm season, but we also go at least 5 times camping in winter. These cots are simply amazing. They are very sturdy and super convenient. The side storage system is the best thing about it, because I am a gadget guy and carry lots of small things like USB power banks, two flashlights, LED headlamp, knife and so on. My wife also finds it very useful. She puts her lady stuff there ;)

This is my third camping cot. Previously I have been using a no-name camping cot and then I have been using a simple Coleman ComfortSmart Camping Cot, but I was too simple. Squeaky and too weak.

I recommend the one I am using - Earth Products Jamboree Military Style Aluminum Camping Cot. Good value for money, guys.

All the best

Aug. 16, 2016, 05:40 PM
I've backpacked at around 0 degrees f and it's not easy to stay comfortable. Definitely wear wool socks and a wool hat if you aren't already, and hot water bottles in your sleeping bag are magic. In a pinch, I've put boiling water in my nalgene - you just have to remember to take it out before it gets cold. I invested in a -30f primaloft sleeping bag ($$$!) but I plan on it lasting a lifetime. When it's really cold I sleep in all my clothes (wool long underwear, fleece jacket, primaloft coat, and wool hat/socks) in my sleeping bag with a silk sleeping bag liner. Even if you sweat, wool and fleece keep you warm. Like you, I hate sleeping in my clothes but I hate being cold more :). I'm also a cold sleeper. When waking up in the morning, do a few jumping jacks and make hot beverage ASAP :) :)

Aug. 16, 2016, 08:48 PM
I use a foam pad and then a good cold rated sleeping bag (not a mummy one but a nice big square one) and sleep in sweats. Also, helps if you have warmed yourself well at the camp fire before turning in. If you crawl into bed cold and shivering it takes till dawn to warm up!

Aug. 16, 2016, 10:41 PM
I wanted to add that a silk scarf or a silk wild rag works miracles for me, keeping my neck from unpleasant drafts. I wear one 10 months a year I think! :)

Some great suggestions here, enjoyed the read! I'm a naturally cold person with previous frostbite damage already, so I'm really sensitive to camping in the cold. I NEVER camp without a -20 degree bag (even in summer).

Aug. 16, 2016, 11:30 PM
obviously we need to be better equipped, i'm thinking of starting with a couple of those nasa blanket liner things. plus, i cannot stand being confined in a sleeping bag, and dislike sleeping with clothes at all, so need to find what, maybe a double bag? over a nasa blanket? i'd love to someday afford a sheepskin cover fro the entire bed, they are fairly pricey, though.
what else do you suggest for tight budgets?
thanks, i hope we can do some more camping before the weather gets too awful in new england.

Late to the party here, but had a number of years endurance riding where I slept in the back of my stock gooseneck on some nights when it went down into the 20's. Learned a lot - principally that the quickest you can convert a section of your trailer to an LQ - even a DIY job - the warmer you will be on those frigid nights. If you want to know how to do that on a slim budget, just ask. I can help you design a fast, temporary, WARM and cozy LQ at a bargain basement price that can go up in minutes, and be taken down just as fast.

So for the super tight budget rider just sleeping overnight in a trailer - my learned comments follow:

If you are going to camp in the back of a horse trailer again, bring along a tent that will open up and fit you snugly inside. The less air space around your body, the less it will steal from you as heat. Don't use an air mattress - it just wicks heat from your body. Use a thermal pad - like a memory foam - and use two sleeping bags - one as your mattress on the thermal pad, the other as your blanket. Also the best blankets are made of microfiber. They hold and retain heat the best. If you have some hay or straw handy, use that as an extra ground layer for your bedding/tent. Flannel pjs will keep you warm all night long, and make for comfy sleeping. Smart wool socks, and a warm wool cap on your head.

Sheepskin is NOT a good choice for bedding - it is heavy, inclined to pick up moisture from the air and get wet from condensation, and is not the best insulation because your weight packs the fleece down flat. (Source: I had sheep for over 40 years, have lots of sheepskin, and lots of years of trying to find the best use for it. Best use is for sitting on it.)

If you have a way of covering the interior trailer walls and windows with lightweight polyester bed sheets, do so. The more you can insulate the interior from letting the cold seep through the metal and affect the surrounding air inside the trailer, the better. With steel trailers just use kitchen magnets to stick the sheets to the walls. Even a super lightweight bed sheet will do a brilliant job in insulating a wall. You just need that barrier.

Your trailer ceiling is also a cold conductor, and also a condenser for air moisture which comes mostly from your breathing. Hence the reason a tent inside the trailer is smart both for warmth and for keeping you dry. If you want to continue using the trailer for camping, look into gluing indoor/outdoor carpeting on the ceiling. It stops the condensation, and insulates the roof from cold.

You can also add a small tent heater, like a ventless Coleman catalytic heater that runs on a small can of propane and burns just below the ignition point of fire. These are wonderful SAFE means of heat and work for a lot of people...as long as the propane residue doesn't give you a headache. Do NOT get the Mr. Buddy, or any heater that produces a flame. The exhaust is comprised of dangerous gasses. ALWAYS and ONLY use a catalytic heater when you are confined in a small place that is mostly enclosed. Just leave the heater on until you are ready to go to sleep, then turn it off. That will help keep your trailer warmer for several hours at least. Turn it on early enough in the morning (like 4am) so that it has time to warm your trailer nice and toasty before you crawl out of bed, and you'll be a much happier camper overall. There were many times that I just left the catalytic heater run all night long, or until it ran out of fuel. The trailer stayed warm enough - about in the high 50's - on night where it was down into the 20's. About in the high 40's when it was in the teens and single digits. Well worth the investment.

Good luck!

Sep. 26, 2016, 08:02 PM
I did some truck camping around the US in January. I generally tried to stay places with electric and ran a space heater.

No air mattresses! I can't even sleep on those in the summer without freezing. I used a cot with a 3 inch foam pad on top. Slept on top of a cheap sleeping bag and wrapped myself in a down comforter. I wore layers of fleece to sleep. Added a Border Collie on top for good measure.

Oct. 13, 2016, 10:35 PM
Tips from a long time cold weather backpacker and horse camper (most of which likely have been mentioned):

1) Always wear a warm, dry hat to bed. I use an alpaca one from Peru. Avoid cotton.
2) Wear dry wool socks (take extras).
3) Have a special set of dry sleep clothes; lightweight fleece and thermal long underwear are awesome for this. Avoid cotton.
4) Invest in a cold weather sleeping bag rated 15-20 degrees colder than you expect to need (for most brands). Women sleep significantly colder than men, and just as an FYI, ratings for unisex sleeping bags are generally for men. If you are "car camping," a synthetic bag is fine; we have an awesome Coleman one that is 25+ years old; it's just heavy and bulky. If you are horse packing, a lightweight down bag is the way to go (unless you are going somewhere really wet, then a synthetic bag is a better choice).
5) Tents hold in heat; unless you have heated living quarters, a tent is, IMHO, much more comfortable than a clammy metal trailer when it is cold.
6) Avoid cotton clothes and bedding; it holds in the damp from perspiration, and takes forever to dry. Damp makes you cold.
7) Get a foam sleeping mat or 2 to put under your air mattress. They are inexpensive, and make a world of difference in insulating you from cold ground or metal.

All of these items can be obtained from garage sales,thrift stores, military surplus stores, and discount online retailers like Sierra Trading Post. Ebay can yield some real gems. REI has "garage sales" that are great sources for outdoor gear.

The backpacking sites will be full of great advice too.