As temperatures continue to drop, it’s all too tempting to hunker down indoors, but with shorter days and much less sunlight, it’s essential to get out into the great outdoors when you can. Winter adventures offer a plethora of mental and physical health benefits from fresh, crisp air to fill your lungs with natural sunlight for that much needed hit of vitamin D, all of which will help improve sleep, boost mood and enhance fitness.
Max Schmidt, Chief Adventurer and Head of CamperDays says, “Camping in winter offers a unique tranquillity not found in the busier summer months. It’s also a fantastic time to nurture a deeper connection with nature as with each season comes different natural flora and fauna to enjoy, making it a highly enriching and fulfilling experience for all. However, extreme temperatures and unpredictable conditions mean that it requires smart preparation for comfort. Layering clothing, insulating from the ground and choosing the right gear are all imperative when it comes to staying warm and enjoying the serene, quieter landscapes that winter camping offers.”
Max’s top tips for winter camping below…
Consider your vehicle
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with roughing it in a tent, for ultimate comfort your best option is to travel in a well-insulated campervan or motorhome when camping in winter. Many motorhomes are conveniently kitted out with warm beds, a hob, and hot showers ensuring that you can wash conveniently without having to brave the morning chill whilst accessing communal facilities.
If you are planning to camp, insulate from the ground by using a high quality sleeping pad to provide a barrier between your body and the cold ground, as well as a high tog sleeping bag rated for lower temperatures. A quilt or blankets to layer on top of your sleeping bag are also a sensible idea as they can easily be removed if you feel too warm.
When packing for a winter camping trip, ensure you’re fully prepared for colder climes, particularly at night-time when temperatures drop even further. Think thermal layers, woollen jumpers, cosy fleeces and warm coats.
Waterproof layers and walking boots for wet and muddy rambles are also essential, as are spare socks and trainers. There is nothing worse than damp or cold feet, so ensure that you’re extra prepared with multiple pairs – the thicker the better. Hand and feet warmers are also a great option to make sure that you stay extra toasty. Packing extra blankets and hot water bottles can also make your camping experience all the more enjoyable during the chillier winter months.
Shorter days and longer nights are one of the cornerstones of the winter months, and with few hours of sunlight make sure to bring adequate lighting, whether that’s head torches for navigating your way to communal facilities after dark, reading lights or indulging in some fairy lights to make your camp feel extra cosy and atmospheric.
Don’t forget to pack spare batteries and remember that cold temperatures can reduce their lifespan, so make sure to store them in an insulated container.
Gorge on energy-rich nourishment
Spending more time outdoors combined with the naturally colder temperatures at this time of year, means you will likely expend much more energy than normal. To combat this, you may need to put more thought into exactly what you’re eating.
For breakfast opt for a classic bowl of porridge – a hearty breakfast that provides slow-releasing energy that will keep you fuelled until lunch time. Throughout the day make sure to snack on lots of high-energy foods such as dark chocolate, nuts, oat bars and dried fruit for those moments when you notice your energy levels starting to dip. Dried food sachets, to which you just add boiling water, are also a great option for active campers on-the-go.
You’ll likely find yourself cosying up in a local pub come dinner time, but if you are planning on preparing food yourself, you’ll want something low fuss but nutritious. To make life easier for yourself, pre-prepare some hearty meals like pasta bakes or casseroles before you travel, so that you can simply heat them up as and when needed. And don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids – it’s much easier to become dehydrated in the winter months, due to the lack of humidity in the air. If you struggle to drink enough water, try carrying a thermos filled with hot tea or warming soup to enjoy on the go.
Indulge in some winter activities
Some things are simply better enjoyed in winter. Wild swimming, for example, is a fantastic winter activity as the cold water helps to boost your immune system and release endorphins – your body’s happy hormone. Just ensure that you’ve got a dry set of clothes to change into, lots of blankets and perhaps a hot water bottle back in your campervan to warm yourself up once you’ve enjoyed your dip. If you’re new to cold water swimming, only do so under the guidance of a local club to ensure you are able to enjoy yourself safely.
Alternatively, if wild swimming doesn’t sound like your thing, stargazing is another great activity for when the days are longer and darker. Ensure you’re camping somewhere with low light-pollution and that there’s a clear forecast for the evening. Then simply pitch up and enjoy the beauty of the cosmos from your camping spot.