Issue 105 is out now
Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

06th January 2017

However you don’t have to head into the wilderness to discover the joys of life under canvas in the cold weather.

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

06th January 2017

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

06th January 2017

Amelia Mayer, AKA Mountain Mama, lives in the USA’s Yellowstone National Park with her husband and four young children and blogs and writes about their outdoor adventures. We spoke to her about the best ways to make a one-night, autumn camping foray in your back garden cosy and comfortable

‘We’re not experts when it comes to cold weather camping. However, we decided to brave the (back garden) elements for some family bonding. So, despite the fact that we aren’t pros, we can pass on some of our findings for newbie campers. Our kids loved it. They made sure we didn’t forget the fact that it was imperative we eat hot dogs, roast marshmallows for S’mores and use headlamps. I am honestly not even sure it crossed their minds that they were in full winter gear. But that is the hope with getting outside often with the kids – that they will think what we do is completely normal and will integrate it easily into their own life. We busted out the 4-season tent that my partner has had since high school, made a camp fire, and spent the evening (and night) outside. We left the figurative door open to bailing if needed but went into it like we would be there until morning. Truth be told, two of us did head homewards part way through the night, not because it was cold, but more that we were testing out all four of us in our new huge double sleeping bag and a small child was going nuts and keeping us all awake. I sacrificed a little so my eldest could have some special bonding time with Daddy. It worked because they are already planning some special camping and backpacking trips for the summer.’

TIPI TIPS

So, what did we learn from our little adventure?

  • Pick a four-season tent, the vents and construction are specific for dealing with those cold conditions and make the whole process warmer. Use sleeping pads. We threw three of them under our sleeping bag and then topped them off with two heavy fleece blankets. Don’t use a blow-up air mattress. The extra pockets of air will actually make it much colder. Try a family or double sleeping bag. It’s like bringing your bed with you and will keep everyone super snug and comfortable. You can even buy bags that allow you to add on extra segments if you have a big family. That extra body heat helps a ton.
  • Be smart about staying warm while sleeping. Wear long johns, wool socks and a hat on your head. You’ll be sleeping in that hat, so one that is low-profile is a lot easier. Wear head lamps – they’re great for camping in the summer too!
  • A campfire is pretty much essential, so remember to wear clothing that you are OK with getting some burn holes in. You hope it won’t happen,
  • but sparks from the fire can easily burn tiny holes that are much more destructive in winter clothing. Camp chairs make life much easier because they let you sit up and off the cold ground.
  • If you’re eating dinner outside, think about foods that can be eaten with mittens on. We went simple with hot dogs and S’mores and then put on a laundry load of gear the next day. It’s camping – accept that you’re going to get dirty.
  • Decorate your tent with a small string of LED lights running on their own battery pack, they’re great for a little nightlight in the tent. We hung ours using loops at the top of our tent a little bit of duct tape. Highly recommended practical “bling” for your campsite. Throw an old welcome rug right outside the tent door. It makes boot removal much easier without getting dirt in the tent.
  • Prepare hot drinks in travel mugs for maximum ease and cosiness. Be positive! Stay happy, excited and totally into it, and the kids will follow suit.

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