Winter camping is huge fun. But it takes different preparation to summer camps to stay warm. Here are my top tips for staying warm on Winter Camp.
Start the day right
A good breakfast is essential. You'll burn off more energy on Winter Camp with the combination of activities and keeping warm. A hungry Scout is a cold Scout.
Aim to get plenty of carbohydrates for slow release energy throughout the day- a mug of thick porridge is superb. (Top tip– make the porridge the night before and cover over, then reheat in the morning. That overnight soaking of the oats makes it thicker and tastier! Sugar or syrup toppings add a rush of quick energy to get you started.)
Wearing multiple thin layers is better than one thick layer. Air traps between layers and is warmed by your body. It then in turn keeps you warm. A few long sleeved tshirts and a hoodie is ideal.
Wetness flattens fibres and needs lots of energy to evaporate, taking that energy as heat from you. An outer waterproof shell is essential where you wiil have poor weather or muddy activities. Breathable waterproofs like GoreTex are best, as they wick sweat away.
If your waterproof layer isn't great or you know there are a lot of really muddy activities available, try and clump those activities together then change after, sticking a spare layer in your daysack. Remember to keep some thing to keep wet clothes in, so they don't wet the rest of your gear.
Don't overdo it
I've seen people go to Winter Camp and put on seven, even eight layers. Calm down! A UK Winter Camp is unlikely to get that cold, save it for climbing Everest!
Having too many layers on will make you sweat. You're likely do be doing very physical activities, which will keep you warm. As a rule of thumb you should be comfortable, but a little chilly if you remove a layer.
At night your tent traps the air between the inner and outer layers. Its essential you don't pile yourselves and your kit by the edges as if the tent layers touch they can leak.
Small is good
A smaller tent is easier to warm. Try to avoid massive tents as they will be slow to warm, unless you have lots of bodies in there!
The only area of a tent that does not trap air to insulate you is underneath and that is where most of the cold will come from.
A good sleep mat will not just keep you comfortable, it will keep you warm. Self inflating gel airbeds are far superior to the foam variants. Airbeds may be comfortable, but don't stay anywhere near as warm. If you have spares, or a blanket, putting it under you rather than over you will have a bigger effect in keeping you warm.
Top tip for self inflating matresses: after camp, unroll it and open the valve, storing it flat (under the bed or behind the wardrobe are good spots). This will saturate the gel with air and make it quicker to inflate and of optimum thickness when you take it on camp.
This is a no brainer. If you have a 2 season sleeping bag, you'll need to supplement it with spare blankets. Know what kit you have and don't find out the hard way!
Sitting around the fire at night is one of the joys of camping. But the fire will only warm the side of you that faces the fire. Having something behind you will reflect some of the escaping heat back- beach wind breaks are great and take up little space, or you could pioneer a simple one with staves and brush
A wee dram
A bottle of something to warm the throat may be enjoyed, but alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering your core temperature.
Enjoy Winter Camp everyone. I certainly will!