• This topic has 22 replies, 20 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by br.
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  • winter camping with kids?
  • Premier Icon joemarshall
    Free Member

    I have a Friday – Sunday spare in early Feb and have promised to take Rose (aged two and three quarters) on an adventure so that her mother can get some stuff done without us around the house.

    She really likes camping. One of her friends’ parents run a camp site in Yorkshire. So one potential trip is to go camping.

    Anyone got any tips on winter camping with kids?

    I have a suitable 2 man tent (I’ve slept in it in snow), I have 2 adult sleeping bags that are suitable for comfort down to about -15C, plus a load of other sleeping bags, some decent thermarest things, and I can always take duvets and stuff for more warmth. Got all the obvious things (stove, hot water bottles, warm clothes for her, waterproof salopettes, several torches etc.), is there anything else I might need?

    It’s too far to bike and winter, so we’ll be driving rather than biking out to the campsite, so we’ll have a car, plus be able to take as much gear as we need, so I think we’ll be safe.

    Has anyone put kids in adult sleeping bags – or am I going to be better off opening it up and putting duvets over her (or do I need some kind of kiddy bag – all the ones I’ve found are 1 or 2 season so far)?

    Premier Icon joemarshall
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    Premier Icon theotherjonv
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    No experience, other than a trip to Cornwall in the summer that has some nights that got to low single digits.

    Sounds like you have plenty of kit, my suggestion would be layers, so maybe fleeces over pyjamas inside sleeping bags. Maybe a kids bag inside the adult one? And my worry would be that one so small might slip down inside the adult bag, so maybe tie it off at a suitable length with a webbing strp or similar to make it kiddy length.

    And have fun. If she gets too cold, you can get back in the car and go to the parents house.

    Premier Icon dknwhy
    Full Member

    We took our two camping at the end of October (12 & 5), when it was warmer than now and they were still cold. We’ve got 10cm thick self inflating mats which we put a blanket over and then the kids were wrapped in a fleece blanket inside their sleeping bags (rated to comfort 0). I think we even put another blanket on top of them and all four of us slept close together.
    The temperature dropped to about 7 degrees and although they both slept, they were cold when they woke up and everyone was a bit sniffly.
    I don’t really think they enjoyed it and our two love camping. We generally spend 3 weeks camping in Europe throughout summer. Personally, I wouldn’t take them again outside of May-September/Oct.

    Have you thought about a camping pod instead? They’re usually insulated and heated and she’ll still get to have an adventure in her sleeping bag. Could be a nicer option for you.

    Premier Icon joemarshall
    Free Member

    Hmm. She’d be in something much warmer than a 0 degree rated bag (and she’s always happily slept in the bike trailer in this weather), plus probably a big warm duvet too. And she runs warm like me (when it snowed last year, she was still taking her coat off to play at the park!). Plus we obviously have an emergency get-out option with the car. I’ve got a quite well sealed very small tent, rather than a ridiculously cold massive family tent which might help too.

    Will have to give it a think. Camping pods sound good, but we’d have to go to another campsite.

    In the USA, it seems there are quite a lot of winter campers with kids, and the gear is very readily available. Their advice sites are less about whether you’ll get cold, but more about not getting lost in snow when you hike from your car to the camp-site with your kids, and how to avoid dangerous winter predators which I hope won’t be problems in the wilds of Yorkshire!

    Premier Icon ton
    Free Member

    coldest i ever camped with the kids was bonfire night…….pretty damp and cold too.

    thermarests covered in a big quilt, then us in sleeping bags with a quilt over us all (me, wife, 2 kids), we were toasty.

    Premier Icon gusamc
    Free Member

    see travelodge sale, find cheapie weekend

    put popup tent in bedroom,take bbq/cooker (*don’t use in the room) and do a ‘part camping’ weekend

    Premier Icon rogerthecat
    Free Member

    +1 for a pod with a nipper at that age.
    My 2 have camped all their lives even when very young, but we used the in-law’s caravan in the depths of winter.
    When in our mountain tent we found that being warm in bed will only happen if they are toasty when they get into their pit.
    Does the site have hook up?
    You could run an extension lead to the tent and run a small fan heater with a thermostat to keep you warm if you go under canvas.

    Premier Icon phatstanley
    Free Member

    i love getting out with mine. glen feshie being a fave spot.
    regardless of where you camp, a fire would do wonders for morale and core body temp when getting into the sleeping bag.
    toasted bannock/marshmallows/smores are always a hit, too…..

    Premier Icon andyh2
    Free Member

    Not necessarily available at the site you’re going to, but teepee with a woodburning stove is very nice this time of year.

    Premier Icon hora
    Free Member

    OP – I would hesitate. If she has a bad nights sleep/cold etc – she’ll forever associate camping with misery.

    Get them hooked for life by taking kids when the weathers best…

    Premier Icon richpips
    Free Member

    We’ve done it load with the kids, most recently at half term when it froze over night.

    Forget normal PJs, dress them in full length thermals with socks, and the all important hat or balaclava. Maybe with a thin fleece jumper too.

    Last time my lad used an adult 3 season down bag.

    No complaints from him.

    Sleepy by qwertyphoto

    Premier Icon Mantastic
    Free Member

    Go to campsite with electrical hook up, take heater. Sorted

    Premier Icon joemarshall
    Free Member

    OP – I would hesitate. If she has a bad nights sleep/cold etc – she’ll forever associate camping with misery.

    On that argument, you could say don’t let her ride the bmx track, cos if she crashes, she’ll forever associate bmx tracks with pain and misery, whereas in practice, whilst she crashed once or twice, she got back up and really loved going to the ‘zooming track’. Similarly, she still likes going to the woods for picnics, even though we’ve been in some pretty minging weather.

    She already knows that camping is brilliant, been a few times now, is definitely hooked. But I do need to get the practicalities right, as whatever a cold grumpy night might do to her in the future, more to the point, I’d be sharing a tent with a cold, grumpy and extremely vocal and energetic toddler. I can’t see how if you jump around the tent for half an hour before bedtime, whilst wearing all your thermals, which is pretty much inevitable behaviour from her, you wouldn’t be warm enough to kip inside a huge pile of blankets and things.

    Hmmm. Maybe just one night is in order to see how it goes. Is only an hour’s drive from home in the worst case scenario!

    Premier Icon lizzz
    Free Member

    Put a tie around the big warm sleeping bag to make it shorter for her… it really does make a difference. I’m not quite as short as a 3 year old, but I still do that to my ‘mansize’ sleeping bag if it’s going to be cold as I’m quite short.

    You can also make hot water bottles if you’re taking a little stove for heating the water.

    Premier Icon freeagent
    Free Member

    does she have a ‘sleep suit’ with built-in feet? if so make sure you take that (I have a 2.5 year old daughter aswell)

    Other points to consider.

    Throw a hot water bottle inside the sleeping bag half an hour before you go to bed – getting into a warm sleeping bag gets you off to a good start.

    Warm up payjamas etc the same way – putting on cold/slightly damp clothes is horrid.

    your biggest enemy is cold ground – insulate youself properly from the ground and that is half the battle won.

    Hot drink before bed might be a good idea.

    make sure she wears a hat in bed

    with all these duvets and sleeping bags in a 2-man tent you need to be very carefull nothing touches the side of the tent – if it rains and your duvet is touching the wall it will soak up water like a sponge.

    Don’t be tempted to use cookers/throw-away BBQs to provide heat – carbon-monoxide kills people in tents.

    Have fun!

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Full Member

    I think you have the sleeping bit Sussed. I would be more worried about daytime cold with one so physically small ( their core is nearer to the surface and they have a smaller mass).
    Keep an eye on that and you should be good for the weekend.

    Premier Icon restless
    Free Member

    Does she wear nappies?
    Could be cold at changing times.

    Otherwise take a potty if she is toilet trained, saves on cold late night walks to the toilet block.

    Also take lots of spare gloves, wearing cold soggy gloves is horrible!

    Premier Icon psling
    Free Member

    Get her her own child’s sleeping bag (she’ll like that it’s hers) and cover with duvet.
    Put her to bed in a onesie (current and fashionable).
    Forget the drink at bedtime, she’ll want to pee in the night.
    Take a favourite teddy/doll/whatever.
    Plenty of bribestreats.
    Have fun – I’m sure you already know how to keep her amused.

    Premier Icon chris_db
    Free Member

    Hi there, coldest me and my daughter have camped at is -11 in the winter of 2009:

    IMG_1018 by chr1sdb, on Flickr
    We also got down to -9 in 2010:

    _DSC0061 by chr1sdb, on Flickr

    She first went camping at 10 weeks old and we had her in a grow bag wrapped in a down jacket.

    As long as you keep them warm they should be OK!


    Premier Icon Zulu-Eleven
    Free Member

    did it with mine when they were younger, and lot and lots of quilts etc that they can make a ‘nest’ with would be my advice, and NEVER underestimate how wonderful a hot water bottle is on a really cold night!

    good point made above on the potty.

    Frijj extra thick milk shake, warmed up to make super luxury hot chocolate, she’ll go to bed with a warm belly and sleep like an angel – plus love you forever for it 😀

    Premier Icon Kip
    Full Member

    We camped last “summer” ion a big family tent with extra layers and covers and Small Kip still woke up cold. After chatting with my hardcore regular cold weather camping Canadian cousins they recommended:-
    1. Small tent = less air to warm = warmer kiddies
    2. Use the sleeping bag stuff sac to make the sleeping bag smaller. Keeps the bag warmer and stops child sliding down.
    3. Camp fires rock
    4. Have an escape plan if it all goes to pot

    I am very jealous, we should do something like that with SK and it’s only us stopping it really.


    Premier Icon br
    Free Member

    You need a bigger tent, and just accept that you’ll have a heater on all night – and it’ll be a long, long night.

    I’d just stay with the friends who have the campsite, in their house 🙂

    I’ve camped many times in sub zero temps, mainly off-piste. It ain’t fun, but its ace waking up somewhere high as the sun rises.

    If its bad, she’ll never want to go again.

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