With so many campsites and parks opening through the spring and autumn, there’s no reason to pass up a few nights in the great outdoors during low season.
The trick to comfortable camping at cooler times of year is to have plenty of the right kit to keep you warm and dry. Don’t forget that there’s nothing stopping you from heading south for a week to take the edge off the temperature, but if you’re keen to try a fresher climate, here are some tips for staying comfy.
Nights are always chillier than daytime for obvious reasons, so it’s important to make sure you’re nice and warm in your tent. Three or four seasons sleeping bags are the ideal piece of kit to keep you sufficiently warm in colder weather, and if you worry about getting damp, a synthetic material is more likely to suit you, as a wet down bag will not retain insulation. Remember that it’s your body heat that keeps you warm, so to avoid crawling into a cold bag, pop a hot water bottle in to heat up the air before you go to bed.
The fastest way to lose heat is from sleeping on cold ground, so always make sure you have a good quality air bed or camping bed to sleep on. Most outdoor equipment suppliers offer air beds that have flocked surfaces, which help to prevent the sleeper from slipping off and some producers such as Eurohike make beds that have built in foot pumps to save space and enable easy inflation.
The final thing to consider is your choice of sleepwear. It’s worth investing in something warmer than your regular pyjamas, especially if you’re the kind of person that tends to get cold easily. Fleecy winter pyjamas are available in stores and online, and provide a little extra insulation to keep you cosy in cooler climates
The key to cold weather warmth when you’re out and about is layering. Layers help to trap heat and can be added or removed to keep you at a comfy temperature all day. Fleecy fabrics are ideal for insulation and snow boots are great for ensuring your feet stay warm and dry. If you’re wearing lace up boots be sure not to pull the laces too tight as it can restrict blood flow to your feet and leave them feeling icy.
One of the tricks to effective layering is to keep your layers lightweight. Bulky clothing can quickly begin to restrict movement, which isn’t ideal if you’re out walking all day. Most camping experts will recommend thermal underwear for cold weather pursuits, as they’re designed to keep the heat in and are a great, lightweight base layer to build upon. Lighter clothing also takes up less space in your luggage, meaning you won’t be overloaded when travelling.
Another low season staple is the waterproof. Jackets, trousers, boots – you can keep dry from top to toe with the right clothing. Ensure you distinguish between water resistant and fully waterproof – the latter will have a waterproof membrane and taped seams that keep water vapour out but prevent droplets getting in, keeping you sufficiently dry if you’re facing inclement weather.
In the pack
There are a few essential items of kit that should go into a winter pack. The first is sun block. It’s easy to assume that heading outside in winter leaves you at less risk of exposure to the sun’s rays, but even cold days can be clear and bright and if you’re not protected you can end up with a nasty case of sunburn.
Nights can close in fast outside of the summer months so a head lamp is also a must. It makes pitching your tent and finding your way about the campsite much easier than having to juggle a torch. You can expect to pay anything from under £10 for a basic model to over £100 for a sophisticated, high performance version.
Finally, you’ll never go far wrong if you have a good guidebook to hand. Many campers are swapping the traditional paperback for a digital version to save on luggage space, so why not download several relevant books and keep them to hand on your tablet or Kindle? Buy a quality guide on the local area to find out about key sights and great places to eat.
Check out the Alan Rogers best campsites Open All Year Round digital e-guide