How to Car Camp in the Off-Season

It only takes a few tweaks to your summer routine for you to enjoy the wild during the winter. Hit the road running this off-season with these useful car camping tips and tricks!

Carbo-load

This summer’s diet of watermelon and popsicles won’t cut it during the chilly winter months.Your body generates energy as it burns calories; carbohydrates fire up your internal furnace to keep you warm. Carbo loading is a strategic (and delicious) tactic to increase body heat during a winter trip. 

Eating a snack right before bed will also help to keep you warm throughout the night. Since your body stays heated by burning calories, eating right before you hit the hay is a great way to ensure that your body has plenty of fuel to burn during the night. If you’re looking to really turn things up, you can sip on a hot beverage to warm you from the inside out. A little hot toddy never killed nobody….

Preheat your oven

Getting into a toasty sleeping bag is like being wrapped in a towel fresh out of the dryer. Treat yourself by placing an airtight container filled with boiling water into your car bed 20 minutes before you go to sleep. Make sure to double then triple-check that the container is sealed well to prevent any disastrous leakage. The hot water will convect to warm the air in your bag so you can maintain your body temperature while sleeping. Think of it as preheating an oven. Your sleeping bag is the oven and you’re the frozen pizza.

Dress for success

Channel your inner lasagna and layer up! Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep everything dry. Add as many layers as your heart desires and lock it all in with a wind and waterproof outer jacket. For those in-between layers, we recommend a breathable, lighter jacket that you can easily take on and off to regulate your temperature. Wool, fleece, and other synthetic fabrics are great to keep you warm and dry. 

If you can bend your elbows you’re not doing it right. 

Use your head

A whopping 30% of your body heat escapes from your ole’ noggin. Wearing a beanie will help to prevent precious heat from escaping. We’re big fans of the Love Your Melon Brand around here. They make super stylish headwear and 50% of all their profits benefit children with pediatric cancer in the U.S. You can wear a beanie to stay nice and toasty while donating to a great cause!

Secure the bag

Perhaps the most important wintertime addition to your regular-season equipment is a solid cold weather sleeping bag. If you’re going to brave the elements in freezing temperatures, you’re going to want a sleeping bag that’s up for the job. Make sure that you take a sleeping bag that is rated for your destination’s temperature or colder—those little numbers are there for a reason. We promise your warm toes will thank you later. Additionally, the right inflating car camping air mattress is a key player in any car bed set up.

No raining on this parade

Produce bags are at the top of our packing list. Turns out those little bags from the grocery store are good for more than just tomatoes. They’re lightweight, water-resistant, and take up nearly no space when packing. Be sure to REUSE the ones you’ve got floating around your kitchen to keep Mother Nature happy. Plastic bags are also a godsend if you’re heading out during the rainy season. We like to use them to line our backpack to ensure that moisture doesn’t seep in when we’re out in the rain. If the situation calls for the big guns, we advise you to take some industrial 60-gallon trash bags to shelter larger items from wind or rain.

Get fired up

Fires during the colder months offer just as much functionality as they do fun. Take the firewood you would usually take on a trip. Multiply it by two. Multiply that by three. Then pack all of that into your trunk. While this may seem excessive, it is better to have too much than too little if you’re using fire as a heat source during the day. Additionally, you’ll need more fuel if you’re cooking over a fire since cooking times are longer in lower temperatures. It can be hard to find dry firewood during the winter season so it's best to bring your own wood just to be safe. 

We hope you can enjoy year-round overlapping adventures with these hot tips. May the weather be ever in your favor!

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