The only thing harder than getting out of a warm sleeping bag in the chilly morning is keeping said bag warm throughout the night. These genius tips and tricks will help keep you snug as a bug in a rug while you sleep on the road year-round!
1. Preheat your bed
Put a non-insulated, stainless steel bottle filled with hot water inside your sleeping bag before you get ready for bed. A BPA-free water bottle also works if you are unable to get your hands on a stainless steel one. Toss the bottle inside your sleeping bag at least 10 minutes before you get into bed. The warmth of the hot water will radiate to warm the air inside your sleeping bag so your bed will be nice and toasty by the time you hit the hay.
2. Call in reinforcement
Form a makeshift barricade against outdoor temperatures by strategically stacking your belongings around the perimeter of your trunk rather than in one big heap. This blockade will trap the precious body heat you generate and reinforce your line of defense to insulate against any pesky drafts from outside.
3. Layer up
It’s all about the foundation when it comes to successful layering. Your base layer is the most important since it operates on the front lines to retain body heat. Synthetic materials, such as polyester, nylon, polypropylene, or rayon, are ideal for effective layering since they can dissipate sweat. Which reminds us...
4. Avoid moisture at all costs
Moisture is public enemy #1 when it comes to sleeping warm while car camping. The condensation that follows from any sort of dampness will ruin your chances of a cozy night’s rest. Dampness is especially a downer for down bags. Moisture of any kind compromises the loft of down insulation and lessens the effectiveness of the insulation. It takes a long time for down sleeping bags to dry, so the negative effect of moisture will haunt you in your sleep.
5. Thar she blows
Resist the temptation to blow your warm breath into your sleeping bag. Doing so will trap the moisture from your breath inside the sleeping bag to create chilly dampness. Instead, keep your head, mouth, and nose outside of the bag while sleeping in your car so you have a blowhole to expel damp air.
6. Get it right...but not too tight
Avoid tight-fitting layers that may restrict blood flow. Cold temperatures cause blood vessels in the extremities to constrict which results in icy fingers and toes. Constricting clothes further reduces circulation by making it especially hard for your warm blood to reach smaller extremities. While it may seem counterintuitive to layer loosely in the cold, we promise your little piggies will thank you later.
7. Beat the chill
Don’t wait until you’re cold to bundle up. Be proactive and beat the cold by layering appropriately before you cool down. Preemptively adding layers as the temperature begins to drop will maintain comfortable body heat as the night chill sets in. It’s much easier to keep your body warm than to warm it up.
8. Noggin, dude!
It’s all about the extremities! Your head, hands, and feet are sweet spots when it comes to sleeping warm. Keeping these three areas of your body comfortable can dramatically increase how warm you feel throughout the night. Beanies are absolute game changers—our bodies lose 7-10% of body heat from our head so keeping the cranium covered is a top priority.
9. Snow gear is a secret weapon
Instant activation hand and feet warmers are usually meant for outdoor winter activity, but they are a little trick we like to have up our sleeves (sometimes literally) when sleeping. Warmers can be stored in gloves or socks for 5-8 hours of toasty goodness. EZ Heat Reusable Hand Warmers *hyperlink* are an environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable warmers. Once they’ve run their course, the chemical reaction that creates the heat can be reset by boiling the pack in water to be reused in the future.
Carbs fuel your internal furnace to keep you warm because your body generates energy as it burns calories. This is a great excuse to eat that fourth s’more you were contemplating earlier. You can also eat a snack right before bed to keep your furnace burning through the night. Since your body stays heated by burning calories, eating a hearty camping dinner right before you hit the hay is a great way to ensure that you’ll stay toasty after you doze off.
We hope that this list is useful in your pursuit of year-round adventure this off-season. Wishing you safe and warm travels!