Winter camping does not have to be freezing your butt off all night - and throwing clothing and blankets at the problem might not make the cold go away. Some simple additions to your existing setup working form the ground up may be the key to a warmer nights sleep.
1. Add a ground sheet/vapour barrier.
A sheet a of Tyvek under your sleep mat or a foot print for your tent will help stop the rising dampness and moisture getting up into your sleep system. Tyvek can be cut and sewn to any shape, is inexpensive and extremely light and tough. For under 100g and $20 you can really warm up your sleeping mat and protect it from damage.
2. Upgrade the R-Value of your sleeping mat.
Adding a closed cell foam mat under or on top of your existing inflatable is a quick and inexpensive way to up the R-Value and offer more puncture protection to your mat. They double as a great seat too!
Getting up off the ground by using a stretcher or cot can help but you will still need some insulation.
3. Add a top quilt over your sleeping bag.
You can take your 2 or 3 season bag and add a lightweight down quilt over the top for some extra warmth. A quilt is also great for sitting around with as you can wrap it around a few people.
4. Choose the right bag sleeping bag and mat for the conditions.
The temptation to keep up with the gram savers can leave you cold at night. We always said in the Army -'Travel light, you freeze at night'. Spending a night shivering can burn more calories and grams of food than the grams you saved on a R3 mat as oppose to a slightly heavier R6 version.
Choose a down bag for the best warmth to weight ratio - but keep it dry. Choose a fibre bag if weight and bulk are not as important and there is a chance of your bag getting wet.
Whilst on sleeping bags - avoid wearing layers to bed that stop your body warmth escaping. It sounds counter intuitive but a down or synthetic sleeping bag needs the warm air your body produces to escape into the insulation loft that the bag creates. This will envelop you in warm air and keep you warmer for longer.
5. Get a pillow.
If you went to a five star resort, spent a fortune and were not given a pillow you wouldn't be happy, right? So why spend all your time and money setting up your hiking kit to leave out one of the most essential items to a good night sleep. Travel pillows have come a long way from the old blown up wine cask in a t-shirt - treat yourself to a down pillow that weighs next to nothing and can keep your head and neck supported. This will in turn keep you warmer, give you a better nights sleep and make the experience more enjoyable.