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How To Stay Warm While Backpacking

June 11, 2015
RushCreek 5.23.15 - 033

Think Memorial Day Weekend and images of pool parties, cold brews, backyard BBQs, and the start of summer weather most likely enter your mind. Ahhhhh, the visual is so pleasant.

Memorial Day 2015 was just a little different. After an extremely warm winter in California, Memorial Weekend in the Golden State brought chilly below average temps, rain, and even snow in certain areas. Because of the way the permits work with recreation.gov, we ended up booking our Memorial Day backpacking trip back in February, when California was in the middle of a hot spell so it would only be natural that we got snowed on both nights of our trip and temps averaged 20 degrees! I was prepared however since we encountered chilly temps my first backpacking trip ever (Memorial Day Weekend 2014). 

RushCreek 5.23.15 - 055

Here are my tried and tested tips on staying warm while backpacking: 

  1. Pack smart. Invest in a great breathable, waterproof shell jacket WITH underarm zips! I also bring waterproof shell pants that weight less than a pound. Bring your finest winter long underwear. 
  2. Even if it’s cold when you begin your journey, your body will be warm after ten minutes of hauling a heavy pack on an incline. That being said, always keep rain jacket & gloves at the top of backpack and put on immediately when you start to feel cold or it starts to rain. 
  3. When you get to camp, change into dry (sweat-free) clothes as soon as you stop exercise mode (i.e. as soon as your tent and basic campsite items are set up). If you will be outside and it’s rainy, keep raincoat on so dry clothes stay dry. 
  4. Hot liquids work wonders! We brought dried apple cider mix & spiced rum. SO GOOD. Only error was not bringing enough (cider mix and rum!). 
  5. After dinner, boil additional hot water and place in nalgene water bottle. Use this warm becean of love to stay warm when you’re hanging out post-dinner. I even put this in my sleeping bag for added warmth. HEAVEN ON EARTH! Thanks to Johnie Gal at Dirtbagdarling.com for this great tip!
  6. Sleep with and in layers. When I know temps will be below freezing at night, I bring a silk sleeping bag liner (I use this one from Sea To Summit). I also sleep in long underware, a fleece, and socks. 
  7. If you are traveling with your dog, remember that they get cold too. #OurDogJasper sleeps on Tyler’s down mid-layer jacket. 
  8. Make sure your wet shoes are sheltered! We kept them in the tent with us on this trip because it was so rainy and windy outside, there was a chance that some precip might have entered our vestibule. 

This is how I stay warm while backpacking. Am I missing anything? Comment below!