Just because it’s snowing-cold outside, doesn’t mean that you got to hang up the camping gears for the season. You can still respond to those wild calls you get from the chilling ridges, glassy frozen latkes, and snow-covered forests.
But, camping in 50 degrees(or less) has its consequences. And if you’re certain enough to go out for that, you better get yourself a few minutes to go through the rest of this article.
Because, we’ll talk about keeping your health conditions up, the listed equipment to survive in such challenging weather conditions, and some handy tips to feel it like no less charming than camping in any other season.
Sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or anything else you like), and stay with us till the very end.
We will take care of the rest.
Why is Camping in 50-degree Weather a Challenge?
We already shed some light on this matter. Still, a quick sum up probably should help you understand the gravity of the situation.
The Low Temperature
Some might disagree, but 50 degree Fahrenheit is pretty cold for many of us. Let’s understand why-
People who live in Alaska, Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, and other states to the North will find it usual(because their annual avg temperature is below 50F). In every winter they have to deal with such low weather at home, and it’s hardly any different in a camping site.
But the majority of the campers aren’t used to tolerating such cold. Campers from states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, etc will find 50F pretty cold. Call it a thin skin problem or not, 25 out of 50 states in the USA lie within that zone. And that’s clearly the majority!
On top of that, if it’s about camping in 40 or 30 degree weather, even those from a cold climate will face a hard time.
The Uncertainty of The Weather
There’s no way you can be certain when cold weather can hit you on an adventure.
Even if you have had some insight on the weather conditions (we would highly encourage this), 50-degree Fahrenheit is no joke. The moisture levels are already low. Also, things can get exceedingly uncomfortable.
If you’re thinking of camping in the mountains in April or September, then not taking any essential gear for chills is just not right! A generic tent and sleeping bag will not work in such challenging conditions, especially if you have children on the trip with you.
The Impacts on Body
If you’ve got a thin skin, you’ll definitely feel the stress of your body trying to keep you warm.
Hypothermia(significant drop in body temperature) is a major concern in such situations. Especially if you have a kid with you who is less than 5-years old! Even for adults, chilling temperatures can bring on Frostbite(freezing of the muscle tissue).
With that said, here is a list of the things you can take when you’re thinking about taking a chilling trip in the wild.
Things to Bring in Camping in Bad(freezing) Weather
There are certain things you’ll need in order to make the most of your camping adventure in cold and stimulating weather conditions. After all, camping in 50-degree weather is no joke!
Lightweight Sleeping Pads (The ones with closed-cell foam)
Sleeping bags may be a hit or miss depending on your capabilities to find the right choice. But sleeping pads are specifically designed to insulate you and prevent you from losing body heat even at 50 degree or colder.
There is also a cushion, but once you pair the sleeping bag with the pad, that won’t be much of a help. But the main perk of having a solid sleeping pad is the insulation, which might let you sleep well even in chilly camping weather.
Closed-cell pads for sleeping are, by far, the best option you can go with, especially when the weather conditions are tight. You’ll find that such sleeping pads have certain advantages:
- They are more durable than self-inflating pads.
- These closed-cell pads are almost impervious to leaks.
- Fairly decent insulation and low probability of damage.
If you think of it, then you’ll see that closed-cell foam pads have a lot to offer.
For your convenience, we are listing two of the best options on our radar. You’ll find all the necessary information you’ll need to make the right decision:
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If you wanted to look for other options, then you may want to look at these choices as well:
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In short, if you want to get your hands on the best sleeping pads with closed-cell foam, then make sure:
- It’s durable and lightweight.
- Material quality is more than average (if you’re on a budget).
- The R-value is somewhere between 2 and 3 (A slight deviation is acceptable).
Sleeping Bags with Proper Insulation ratings
Sleeping bags may be a hit or miss depending on your capabilities to find the right choice.
What most people would do is to go with a sleeping bag that’s got solid reliability metrics. Well, that’s not entirely the wrong process.
But, in order to buy the best sleeping bag for a cold adventure, you need to:
- Plan on a budget.
- Look for the right size.
- Look for the right temperature ratings.
- Try and go with a synthetic choice (it’s what we would recommend).
- Make sure that the temperature rating is 10-15 degrees higher (In general, 30-degree Fahrenheit rating is the sweet spot).
Mummy sleeping bags can be a decent choice for the masses. And as far as quilts/quilt sleeping bags are concerned, we will try and shed some light on them in a moment.
For now, here are some of the best sleeping bags for camping in cold weather-
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Buddy Heater and Propane Tank
For those who don’t know yet, portable buddy heaters are outdoor heaters that run on propane gas tank. And to camp in peace in a chilly weather, nothing can be a better ‘buddy’ of yours than this heater.
This heater is good to heat tents that are enclosed and as large as 225 square feet. For smaller tents, there are other options for buddy heaters to choose from. One thing that’s common among all of them is- the footprint is pretty low. So it won’t occupy that much ground space.
Covering the variety of BTU capacity and space coverage, here is a list of our favorite buddy heaters-
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Clothing and Wearables
Clothing and wearables are more of personal preference. But when it comes to what to wear camping in 50-degree weather, there are some ground rules with the clothes and wearables.
Here goes the list-
- Don’t put on one thick cloth and go for lots of layers(base layer, mid-layer, and top layer) instead. Multilayer jackets are more effective to keep your body heat around you.
- The top layer of the clothing should be waterproof. Also, it’s not supposed to suffocate you in terms of tightness in the fitting.
- In case you want to spend some more money, battery-operated heated jackets are a pretty good option. They can keep you warm for up to 6-8 hours straight.
- Wear a pair of ankle shocks at first, and wear another pair of thicker shocks on top of that. The bigger one is supposed to be of cotton or so, which will let your toes breathe.
- Keep spare pairs of both types of shocks with you. Especially if you like to hike in a camp.
- As an alternative to shocks, you can try feet warmers. These little packs help your feet to stay warm for up to 8 hours.
- Pick a lot of winter-friendly accessories with you. Many of the winter campers prefer to keep gloves, hats, scarves, masks, etc.
- Choose a hat that has warm earflaps.
- Think about covering your neck and face as well. A face mask or a balaclava might be a couple of good choices.
The Tent and Tent Accessories
If you’re going camping, then you will certainly need a tent. There’s just no way of getting around it.
As always, we have some very decent options for you. However, before we reveal them to you, here are some quick power tips to help you make the right purchase decision:
- If you want maximum warmth, then perhaps a 2-walled tent will be better. You’ll probably want to go with a full-size fly (avoid going with rain fly’s that only go ¼-the of the way up.
- Polyurethane or PTFE are robust water-repellent choices.
- In general, you’d want to go with a tent that can accommodate 4-people.
- If you are going with a 2-walled option, then make sure your tent has zipper vents to release excess moisture. Otherwise, you run the risk of condensation, which may lead to hypothermia.
- Make sure it’s portable for you (Different folks will have different perspectives on what’s portable).
- If the shape of the tent is decent, then you’ll find the tent to have proper capabilities to shed snow.
With that said, it’s to reveal the best tent for camping in cold weather we have in store for you:
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Tent Stakes (Durable, wind-resistant)
Tent stakes are solid choices when it comes to saving your tent from gusty cold wind.
Here are some choices that will certainly be helpful for you:
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Stainless Steel Water Bottle and Insulator
You can live without food, but you can’t live without drinkable water. It’s a cemented fact that needs to be correctly acknowledged.
Steel water bottles can be your best friend in this endeavor. Also, if you happen to have a water bottle insulator around, that is going to help your case.
Here are some Stainless-Steel water bottle choices that you can look at:
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Based on the choices you make; you can pick up a sleeve that fits the size.
Top Quilt and Under Quilt
Here are some quick points to help you understand why you’d want to choose a quilt over a sleeping bag:
- Lightweight in contrast to sleeping bags.
- Extra room for comfort.
- Easy ventilation with a no-zipper system.
- Low possibility of moisture build-up.
If you’re one of those people who value these traits of a quilt, then you may want to look at the following options:
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Among other important items, you’d want to take snacks with dense nutrients like power bars, tent brush to eliminate the accumulation of dew on the tent surface and more.
While making the camping trip, you’d want to travel light. So, you’d have to make the decision on what works for you.
Speaking of making ‘decisions on what works for you’, you may want to think about bringing a Mylar blanket. We’ll talk about it further along the way.
Nonetheless, we have all the options on the table. You can easily build your arsenal from the options we have set for your needs. Also, you could try your luck and find some of the products that suit your needs.
Things to Do Before & During Camping in Cold Weather
We’ve tried to offer some of the things you will certainly need during your cold-weather camping trip. Also, the options associated with each section are there to give you some more headroom.
But you’re not done.
You’ve just brought the things that you’ll need during camping, there are certain things you’ll need to ‘Do’ in order to have no issues during the trip.
Check the Weather Conditions
We cannot stress this enough. For this reason, we’ve mentioned it again and again.
Always be up to date about the patterns in weather change.
Before starting your journey to a certain region, you’ll want to find out if there have been any sudden changes in the weather in that region recently. Also, looking for changes in trails and terrain is something you need to keep in mind.
In order to be on top of things, checking the weather forecasts and previous conditions from your smart device is the right thing to do. Modern apps and software have come a long way. So, reliability shouldn’t be a concern.
Closed-Cell Sleeping Pads to the Rescue
You’ll find closed cell sleeping pads to be at the very top of our list of cold weather camping essentials.
In most cases, self-inflating sleeping bags seem to be the first choice for travelers. We can’t blame them.
In contrast to other sleeping bag options, the self-inflating ones are far easier to use.
But there’s a catch.
You see, self-inflating sleeping bags can only stay insulated up to around 25 to 30-degree Fahrenheit. As the heat conduction process is an ever-ending phenomenon, you’ll find the cold to slowly creep into your body.
In order to remedy the situation, you’ll need a heating pad that insulates you, the sleeping bag and the cold ground.
We have some solid options in our line up to help you with this issue. All you must do is keep the pad in between the ground and the sleeping bag. That’s all there is to it.
Quick Answer: What exactly is the R-value?
Remember we told you to stick with us? Now it’s time to reap the benefits of your concentration!
I’m sure you’ve seen a couple of mentions of the term ‘R-value’. And we also mentioned that the R-value needs to be somewhere in the ballpark of 2 and 3.
I’m sure you’re wondering what it really is.
The R-value is simply the resistance to enable heat conduction. In other words, the higher the R-value, the lower the likelihood of heat conduction.
Particularly, the R-value is essential for materials with insulation capabilities. For this reason, it is essential that the R-value be as high as possible for better insulation capabilities.
Prepare a Decent Sleeping Surface
In order to have sound sleep, you need to maintain proper posture. For that, you’ll need to create a trough for yourself inside the tent.
One of the best ways to do this is to use your knees and make a shallow trough. It’s only applicable if the snow is too dense of course. If you have any tools available at your disposal, then you’re more than welcome to use it.
Remember, you’ll need to minimize the heat loss in order to keep your body temperature optimal. Otherwise, you may have to deal with the early stages of hypothermia.
Quick Answer: How does heat leave your body?
There are certain things you need to know to have the answer. In general, the answers to your questions are in the high school physics books.
Conduction and Convection
Our bodies lose heat by both conduction and convection.
The conduction process depends on the body’s contact with the cold ground. As heat travels from the hot to cold spot, you are likely to lose body heat.
In contrast to that, the convection method (which is another form of heat travel) when fluid takes some heat and moves away from the source. It’s also responsible for our body heat to be released.
Radiation and Evaporation
The heat coming from the sun is one form of radiation. Our body loses heat the same way.
Ever had to warm your hands at a fireplace? Well, that is another example of heat radiation.
In general, our body loses more than 50% of the total body heat via the radiation method. And it occurs at temperatures less than 68-degree Fahrenheit (somewhere in the 20-degree Celsius range).
In contrast to radiation, evaporation is a cooling phenomenon where the sweat from the body evaporates and cools our body. It’s just another way we lose body heat.
Eliminate Excess Space: How Does it Work?
In order to get a better experience while camping in 50-degree weather, you need to work to reduce the ambient space. This will eliminate the possibility of quickly losing your body heat.
- First things first, keep your sleeping arrangements as close as you possibly can.
- Now you’d want to populate the inner perimeter of the inside the tent with all the camping gear.
- This is more of a ‘let it pass’ type of tip. We remember mentioning Mylar blankets (you may know them as emergency/shock blankets).
You could use some duct tape and tape a mylar blanket on the tent ceiling (if the cold is too overwhelming of course).
But if your tent has a zipper mechanism, then there’s no need for something like this.
However, if you see the condensation to be taking over, you may want to let this simple tip pass!
Stainless Steel Water Bottle to the Rescue
You might be wondering why it is so necessary to bring a Stainless-Steel water bottle.
Follow these steps:
- Pour hot water into the water bottle.
- If you have insulating sleeves, then it’s a good idea to remove it.
- Now place the water bottle inside the sleeping bag or quilt.
- You could also keep it inside your thigh or close to the neck.
If you follow these steps, then you’ll find that you have a proper DIY tent sauna. It’s going to keep things nice and warm during the camping in 50-degree weather.
Proper Clothing for the night
Night times are cold enough to shake your bones.
In that case, you need to have proper clothing so that you can experience optimal comfort.
- If you’re too warm (literally), then you may want to cool off and then get inside to sleep. This will reduce the possibility of a quick drop in temperature.
- Woolen fabrics are highly recommended for these sorts of situations.
- Sock, gloves, and even your underwear can restrict blood flow to your essential organs. So, you may want to avoid these if you’re camping in 50-degree weather.
- Try to keep yourself as free as possible. But a woolen scarf will certainly help you sleep better.
- You may want to ventilate the insides of your tent from time to time to reduce condensation.
Keep the Tent in Check
This is where the tent stakes come in.
We can only tell you so much in this part. High-quality weather-resistant stakes will certainly do a better job in rough and windy weather conditions.
Just make sure you stake the tent properly. Otherwise, if the conditions aren’t in your favor, then things can go ugly.
Have A Chocolaty Dinner!
It’s the fun part of all things you should and may want to do.
You may want to take into this fact:
The more the sugary and protein content you consume, the better it is for your body to stay warm.
And it’s not too hard to do. All you need to do is take in chocolates, cheese, and other calorie-intense delicacies. After that, all you must do is go to sleep!
Camping in 50-degree weather is no joke (we did mention it earlier). It takes a lot of preparation to get the best possible camping experience.
We did cover a lot of information. Still, there are some things we may have missed.
Care to weigh into the conversation? Tell us how you had your experience under 10-degree Celsius.
We would be very glad to hear it from you.
Cody is a full-time blogger living in his camper. Through fixing, repairing and buying equipment to his RV he have learned a lot. Through this blog he will share his mistakes and learnings so that you can save yourself time and money.