Hammock camping can save space while keeping your body off of the cold ground. ATTRIBUTION: Best Gear Designs (Wikimedia Commons)

For some, winter camping means venturing out to their backyard for a night of family fun. For others, a winter camping trip means staying in the wilderness at a state or national park. No matter where you roam, winter camping can be frigid and uncomfortable if you’re not well-prepared. If you’re willing to brave the cold, I suggest planning ahead to make your winter camping trip pleasant and memorable.

Keep Your Clothes in Your Sleeping Bag

If you have room in your sleeping bag, stash your clothing for the next day inside. Your clothing creates an additional barrier between you and the chilly outside environment by filling the pockets of air inside the sleeping bag, and you’ll also have the perk of having warm clothes to put on the next morning. If you don’t like snuggling down into a cold sleeping bag at night, throw a few hand warmers inside the bag just before bed.

Create a Comfort Barrier With a Yoga Mat

Don’t have a sleeping pad and don’t want to shell out the money to buy one? There’s no need to sleep on the hard, cold ground. Instead, find an alternative comfort barrier to place between you and the floor of your tent. Yoga mats are inexpensive and can double as foam sleeping pads. Most also have some level of padding to keep you cozy as you sleep.

Set Up a Tarp to Create a Wind Wall

Harsh winds and snow can become a real inconvenience when trying to camp in the winter. To shelter your sleeping and cooking areas from the elements, consider setting up a tarp to act as a wind wall. To create a wind wall, simply tie the corners of a heavy-duty tarp to two nearby trees in the direction the wind is blowing. With your wind wall in place, you can prevent heavy winds from ruining your sleep or disturbing your fire-building.

Prep Meals at Home and Use One Pot

If possible, prep most of your meals at home, as it can be difficult to chop and prepare foods in cold conditions with gloves on. Try to keep your meals hearty yet simple by sticking with one-pot dishes, such as bean soup, cabbage stew, chicken and dumplings, or chili. Stick to hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to help keep you warm. Use a Dutch oven to keep your food hot longer.

Wear Several Layers of Warm Clothing

What you wear can make a significant difference in how you keep warm while camping. It’s important to wear several layers that you can take off or put on as the temperatures change. Opt for a wicking inside layer that will allow you to sufficiently cool off by absorbing excess sweat. Wear one or more middle layers of warm materials like wool or fleece. Your outer layer should consist of a wind- and water-resistant material to prevent your inner layers from becoming moist. Also, slide on sock liners to keep your feet dry.