As the nights draw in and the temperatures start to drop, we need to start to rethink our camping kits. This is why we would like to talk about the best heating sources for autumn and winter camping.
For some camping season is over. Many people only like fair-weather camping or booking camping holidays through the summer months when temperatures are at their best. I feel, at times, that these are some of the people who often miss out on some great camping experiences.
The summer months are full of play and fun in the sun and at times some great water adventures (including the rainstorms) whilst camping but with the changing of the seasons also comes the changes to camping experiences.
For us, we love the autumnal and winter changes in the outdoors. Colours change from green to varying shades of reds, oranges and golds.
You can get your campfire going that little bit earlier on an evening and spend longer around it sitting chatting and sharing stories.
You have longer at night to stargaze. The sky is darker, and the stars are brighter during this time of the year. This is also the best time of year to witness shooting stars or meteor showers.
Depending on where you are camping (dark sky parks are the best) the Northern Lights are at times visible for over 50% of the UK during these months. Between October and March are the best times to see these when they are strong. Check out our Dark Sky Delights blog for more info on stargazing and northern lights – https://campmehappy.com/sleeping-beneath-the-stars-dark-sky-delights
Camping food is at its most comforting in colder months where food choices tend to lean more towards soups, stews, chilli and other spicy comfort foods. Don’t forget that the foods you eat also go a long way to help to keep you warm and providing your body with extra fuel.
What other items do we like or would recommend for helping to keep you warm when camping in the winter months.
Warm clothing is essential for when camping in winter months especially base layers and top layers.
Good base layers we think often beat PJs for sleeping in. They are designed to be a little tighter and remain closer to the skin as you move around during the night. Good top and bottom base layers paired with a good pair of wool socks, if you can sleep with socks on that is! These will help to keep you warm in your sleeping bag at night.
Outer Layers to help keep you warm and dry in the evening when sitting out are also useful items to pack with you. Don’t forget that although you may be sitting around a warm and cosy fire the air is damper at night and will settle on your clothing as the night goes on. Good showerproof or water repellent jackets and trousers are ideal as they help keep your day clothes dry.
And as with all camping trips a good warm hat is always advisable. In the cooler weather, a lightweight balaclava can also be used for sleeping in as you can lose a lot of heat through your head during the night when sleeping.
Hot Water Bottles
It is important when camping to never go to bed cold. Always heat yourself up with a warm drink or some hot food before bed. Even do a few exercises to warm up your body before climbing into your sleeping bag. You don’t want to be too warm or sweating as condensation can build up within your sleeping bag and create a damp feeling which is not very comfortable.
If you are a cold sleeper as I am a hot water bottle may help you stay warm and help you get to sleep that little bit quicker.
We love these new extra long hot water bottles as not only do they heat more of your sleeping bag up if placed inside before you go to bed but for me, it helps keep the length of my back warm till I’m ready to go to sleep.
*Remember if you are boiling a kettle for hot water bottles last thing in the evening, remember to empty it fully before going to bed. The hot water or water left in kettles can increase condensation build up in your tent during the night.
Fires and Stoves
We all love a good campfire and they are great for sitting around and heating yourself up in the evening but always make sure if you are building a fire that firstly it is allowed, some areas and campsites alike do not allow open campfires. Secondly, if you are having a campfire it is done responsibly and there is not damage caused to the ground.
This may mean digging out an area to have the fire and using stones or bricks to protect the surrounding area. If you are doing this, please replace everything before you leave and do not go cutting anything off trees or bushes to use. Only ever use what has already fallen and is lying about the ground.
Now if you happen to own a good canvas tent or bell tent you may consider investing in a stove for inside your tent. You can buy flashing kits for your tent that will allow you to use such a stove.
These stoves not only are a great heat source but can be used for cooking on and to dry off small items of clothing if placed nearby.
We really like the NJ Comfort Portable Wood Burning Stove Camping Cooker + 3L Water Heater. We love the fact it comes with a water heater, but these can be purchased separately and saves carrying a kettle and also that it packs away neatly into its own little bag. But there are many others available. To find one that suits your own personal needs it would be best to shop around.
Stoves like these are a great all-round piece of equipment as it replaces the heater, cooker and kettle. You don’t even need to put it inside a tent. These can be used out in the open or even under a tarp as long as you remember that the chimney will get really hot and make sure that no materials are touching it or that you use a flashing kit.
You can see a wide range of stoves here.
If you are camping on a site later in the year and have EHU, electric hook up, like many others you may consider buying an electric fan heater to help warm your tent in the evening. Some people do leave these on a low setting all night, but we wouldn’t recommend this and feel all electrics should be turned off before bed. If a nightlight is required for young ones, try using a rechargeable or battery-operated one.
We think this Kampa Diddy Heater is ideal, with its 2 heat settings and overheat and tip-over protection makes it a safe choice for camping.
The one type of heating we don’t recommend is any sort of gas heater. Whether this is turning on your gas cooker to heat the tent or using a camping gas heater. Using gas can be dangerous due to carbon monoxide poisoning and should not be used in any confined spaces including tents.
Sleeping Bag Liners
Sleeping bag liners are another good and inexpensive way of bringing up the warmth rating of your sleeping bag without having to go out and purchase a new one for winter.
Sleeping bag liners can add up to 10 degrees inside your sleeping bags and there a few to choose from. Whether you have a rectangular or mummy-style bag there are liners to suit them. Most good liners come with zips and for us we like the ones made from silk. It is not only a material that will keep you warm but it will also allow you to move more freely throughout the night if you are a restless sleeper.
Other materials include cotton, polycotton and fleece. See a full range of liners here.
Food and hot drinks are also another great way of keeping yourself warm when camping in colder weather. Make some of your favourite soups or stews to take away with you and reheat when needed. Or if you are confident with both your cooking skills and campfires make your own from scratch when needed. There is something to be said about cooking on an open fire when it’s cold outside. I don’t know if it’s the anticipation of watching your meal cook away in front of you and all the smells lingering in the surrounding air, but it just seems to taste that little bit more comforting and delicious.
Hopefully, we will be making some camping food, video tutorials over the next few months so be sure to come back and check them out too.
So, what are your thoughts on the best heating sources for autumn and winter camping? Do you have a firm favourite or a few you regularly use to make sure your camping trips more comfortable? If so, we would love to hear from you.