Have you been camping in Scotland? If yes, you know what I’m going to say. If no, you probably still know – Scotland has a bit of a reputation. Let’s face it, Scotland is wet and cold the majority of time. That’s not to say it isn’t beautiful, it is, it really is. But even on a hot day in Scotland, as the evening draws in and especially as the sun sets (eventually – the days are looooong in summer), it gets very cold. And if you are by the coast be prepared for it to be windy too, which adds to the cold. Oh yes, camping in Scotland requires a certain kind of gear to be packed.
While I much prefer to be a little cold than a little hot in the grand scheme of things, the last thing I want when camping is to spend the night shivering. No thank you. I have come to learn a few things about regulating my temperature when camping, and thought I would share that knowledge so you don’t have to go through the same and rather uncomfortable trial and error that I have. These tips are specifically about keeping warm at night.
Layer Up Early
The biggest problem for me is that once I am cold I take a very long time to warm up. So I make an effort to layer up early to make sure I keep hold of that daytime heat so it lasts as far into the night as possible. When camping I make sure I pack clothing that, if needed, can be worn all at once – base, mid and top layers that work in combination to provide me with as much (or as little) warmth as I need depending on the weather conditions. As soon as we settle down in the campsite for the evening I bung on an extra layer, even if there is a roaring fire it is easy to cool down quickly once you have stopped for the day and are sat outside.
Looking out from Knockan Crag, Scotland.
I’ve particularly been loving this Nikster full zip fleece by The North Face that Millets sent me earlier in the year. It’s one of those go with everything mid layers that just works – it keeps me super warm, has a cosy hood and sleeves with plenty of room, and looks nice should you wear it as a top layer. I’ve basically lived in this since I got it, with jeans, when walking, and especially when camping. It’s a good job it washes well! It’s just so cosy. I’ve mentioned before how I love the fit of The North Face clothing, and this is no exception; a good fit, a good shape, a good colour (pink but of the dusty variety), and generally a good piece. Oh and it was half price at Millets the last time I checked!
Layering up at Hull Pot in Yorkshire – fleece, coat, buff.
Over that I’ve had either my Nupste vest or my Thermoball jacket – I don’t think I needed both at any point but I would happily do so if needed! And of course a windproof layer is a very good idea – a pair of waterproof trousers and a waterproof coat will do the job here, it’s amazing how much warmer you are when you can keep the wind from making its way to your torso.
Keeping warm in my Thermoball.
I’m sure you already know that we lose most of our body heat through our head, and so a warm beanie hat is an absolute must when camping. I generally live in mine when outdoors anyway, so I don’t have to think about putting it on at any given moment. They’re also great to sleep in – keeping your head warm when tucked up in your sleeping back is a must. My only advice on hats… while I love a bobble hat and will almost always choose such for the daytime, I always pack a beanie with no bobble or other embellishments for sleeping. They just get in the way! If there is only room for one, then it’s a no-bobble version.
Sleep in Thermals
I’ll be honest. If I have the room in my bag then I will pack my OnePiece Marius (this one) and wear that to sleep in. I’ll have my usual leggings and tee underneath it for comfort, wriggle down into my sleeping bag, put the hood up, and be cosy and warm all night. The first time I did it, when camping one October in Wales, I realised it was absolute genius. But it is an incredibly bulky piece of clothing and so it only comes when there is space.
When there isn’t room for the OnePiece and I know the night time temperature is going to be in the low single figures (or minus…), then I sleep in my thermal base layers. Wearing thermals inside a sleeping bag has the same effect as it does when you are wearing them under saloupettes for skiing – the two layers work together to trap warm air inside and keep the cold air outside. Not quite as cosy as when I sleep in my OnePiece, but still warm.
I packed my new thermals by Sub Zero to sleep in on our NC500 camping trip, and they were an absolute god-send. It was SO cold on that first night but I did manage to sleep without too much difficulty. To be honest the sizing is a bit wonky – the legs, body and arms are looooong – but they certainly did the trick. They are lovely and soft, and very, very warm. That’s all you want from a thermal base layer isn’t it?! And of course if it’s colder than you can bear even in thermals, you can layer these up – bung some pyjamas over the top, or a fleece layer, or
Create a Barrier to the Ground
The problem with the cold and camping is it’s not the air that’s actually the issue, is that you are sleeping on the ground. Creating a barrier between you and the cold ground is oh so necessary. Now if you have a camp bed or inflatable mattress then brilliant, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us choose a sleeping mat – either made from foam or one of those self-inflating mats – as they are small and light to pack and carry.
Layering works with your sleeping set-up in the same way as it works on your body. When sleeping in my tent in the cold I have the groundsheet that comes with my tent, followed by a blanket, and then my sleeping mat (the Alpkit Dirtbag, it’s brilliant and is proving such a good buy). Then there is the all important sleeping bag, mine is a Blacks own-brand two season mummy that I’ve had for years (this is the new version), and another blanket over the top for good measure. Cosy and warm! Well most of the time!
If you are still cold, you can add a sleeping bag liner inside your bag for additional warmth. This is a great way to turn your two season sleeping bag into a three season without adding much bulk to your pack – I shall certainly be doing this when I head to Scotland to walk the West Highland Way later this year as I won’t have the space to carry a blanket with me.
Sunset and a cuppa. Bliss.
There are other tips you can take into account too, such as having a warm drink or even a bowl of porridge before bed; for more, check out my winter camping tips.
What are your tips for keeping warm when sleeping in a tent? What do you wear at night? And what is in your sleep set-up? Let me know in the comments below.
*I received The North Face Nikster Fleece and the Sub Zero thermals for free, but this is not a sponsored post and as always the words are my own.