1. Layer underneath not just on top
It’s well known that when you’re camping, at some point you’re going to feel the cold, even when the weather is the best it can be, the evenings will always get chilly, and when it does you’ll be grabbing for every rug, blanket and sleeping bag you can get your hands on, but it’s not always wise to pile everything over the top! Don’t underestimate just how much heat is lost through the ground. The cold earth absorbs your heat during the night and a good heat-reflecting roll mat is needed, you won’t believe the difference it can make and it is essential all year round. If you’ve not got a roll mat with you, try putting some of the blankets you do have underneath you as well as on top.
2. Remember to shake your sleeping bag
Most sleeping bags work by trapping pockets of air that absorb heat from your body and then keep you well insulated. To achieve maximum insulation, therefore, give your bag a good shake before you use it to make sure it's lofty and full of air. With light bags, shake it from the bottom end to encourage the filling to accumulate in the upper sections of the bag where the insulation is most needed. Don't fill your sleeping bag with too many of your belongings either. It may seem a bright idea to stick all your clothes inside overnight to keep them warm and dry, but if you have too much it can compress the bag lining and lessen the effect of the insulation.
3. Don't tuck your head inside your sleeping bag
It’s a natural chain of events: First, you tuck your shoulders inside the sleeping bag, then your head, and then you begin retreating down inside until you are all bundled at the bottom. To get the most from your bag though, keep your face in the open. By enclosing yourself within, the moisture in your breath will begin condensing inside your sleeping bag, making it damp and ruining its insulating effect. Keep your mouth and nose in the open to keep the moisture outside. It’s condensation that makes the walls of the tent wet when you touch them in the mornings. You don’t want that inside your sleeping bag!
4. Let nature take its course
There’s nothing worse than getting tucked up for bed and then gradually realising that all those campfire beers have taken effect… you need another pee. When you're cold you need to go more frequently and there's no use holding it in. Your body has to remain at a steady temperature and, as a result, wastes energy keeping your bladder warm. Pop to the loo when you get the chance and let nature take its course – you'll sleep much better after.
5. Take the right size tent (and sleeping bag)
Tents are – for obvious reasons – a massive part of the insulation process, so smaller is better. If there are two of you take a small, two-person tent not some eight-man monster. It’ll trap your warmth far better. The same goes for your sleeping bag – if you’re small, buy small. It’ll keep you snug.
6. Put hand warmers inside your sleeping bag
A great little trick that’s a good camping alternative to a water bottle is chucking a few hand warmers inside your sleeping bag just before bed. It works a treat, is something you may well be carrying with you anyway, and is so much easier and more practical than an actual water bottle. Hand warmers can easily be bought in most outdoor and hiking shops.
7. Keep close and cosy
Unless you’re camping on your own of course! But if you’re with loved ones or friends then getting as close as possible will keep you warmer, think of penguins. But remember to keep the one that has to go to the toilet every 10 minutes closest to the door and you may want to top and tail with any snorers!
8. Don't sleep in all your clothes
Layer up by all means; the point is always to stay snug and warm in bed. Good quality merino wool baselayers that keep you warm but still breathable are your best friend here. Don’t wear all the clothes you have, in fact, as much as possible it’s wise to wear less, this allows air to circulate better and stops your body cold sweating and actually making you feel colder.
9. Put on a bobble hat
A lot of our heat is lost through our heads. People used to say 50% of your body heat in fact, though this myth has recently been proven to be just that. All the same, it can pay dividends to wear a hat especially if (see number 3.) you sleep with your head outside your sleeping bag. Take some socks specifically for sleeping too, keeping them dry to put on just before you go to bed and, if it’s particularly cold, consider wearing gloves. Even in nice summer temperatures, you may still need hats and gloves in the wee hours.
10. Turn things upside down
If you’re sleeping in conditions that could genuinely be freezing, then plan ahead. Think about what will happen to things when they freeze up. Turn your stove fuel and water upside down. Ice forms from the top down, so keeping the opening of your container at the bottom will stop it from becoming unusable first thing. Where you can, of course, insulate anything that could freeze.