How to Stay Warm When Sleeping in a Cabin

When you're camping in the winter, your cabin is usually unbearably cold at night. When all you've got is a thin mattress and a sleeping bag, sleeping comfortably can be next to impossible. If you plan ahead, however, you may be able to beat the cold.


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    Before you leave for the trip, make sure you have:
    • Up to two sleeping bags (the heavy winter kind)
    • At least two blankets
    • Two or three pillow cases
    • A pillow that is small enough to fit in a sleeping bag
    • Duct tape and/or thumbtacks
    • Warm clothes to sleep in (polar fleece type Sweatshirt and sweat pants are best. And don't forget a hat!)
    • Up to two pairs of socks
    • Two Nalgene type water bottles
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    Try to get to camp early in the day so you have plenty of time to set up while it's still warm.
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    Once you get to camp, set up your stuff. Set your sleeping bag on the bed and lay a blanket over it. Set your pillow inside the sleeping bag, which will keep it warmer. Make sure it has at least two pillow cases on it. This is so you can take off the top one, which may be a bit cold, and then the pillow will be warmer. Put your sleeping clothes in the sleeping bag, too.
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    If you think you will need it, use the duct tape or thumbtacks to hang a blanket over the door to the cabin. This will keep some of the cold air out.
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    When it comes time to get ready for bed, try to change clothes in your sleeping bag or under your blanket. Put on a pair of socks (or two or three) and wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt. If it's really cold, wear a wool hat and/or gloves. Fill up the water bottles with BOILING water and put them in your bag a few minutes before you get in(dry them off first). Start more water on to boil so you can refill them right before you hop in. Wrap a towel or sweatshirt around them so you don't get burned. In the middle of the night they will cool off so throw them out of the bag if you notice it later.
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    If you have a wood stove or fireplace, warm up a couple of 8" rocks. Hunt up some good rocks while you can still see. The rocks hold heat better than the water bottles and way better than a stuffed animal.
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    To sleep, crawl down to the bottom of your sleeping bag and curl up like a cat. You can also drag a blanket or your pillow down too. Watch out for "turtle headache" -- there's not a lot of oxygen down there.


  • Never underestimate the usefulness of more blankets. The more layers you have, odds are, the warmer you'll be.
  • A good way to warm your hands is to breathe on them, or sleep on top of your hands. However, you may cut off the circulation to your hands, causing them to sting.
  • Although this may seem dumb, stuffed animals can help insulate you. Don't hesitate to bring your Beanie baby collection.
  • As cold as it may be outside, go out and walk around right before bed, or do some jumping jacks in the cabin. Your body temperature will rise. When you then get into your sleeping bag it will heat up more efficiently.
  • Change your clothes right before entering bed, that way your sweat (yes, even when it's cold you sweat) won't freeze over the night and become extremely uncomfortable let alone unwearable.
  • If the camp has bunk beds, choose the bottom. You can tape up a blanket that covers the front of your bunk, making you warmer.
  • To make the best use of body heat, have all the beds sit near each other.
  • Wear a warm hat or knitted cap to bed. Quite a large amount of your body heat can be lost through the head.
  • When you wake up in the morning, just wear your sleeping clothes for the rest of the day. It won't look very good, but you'll be warm and you won't have to change in the cold.


  • If you're sleeping at the bottom of your sleeping bag and you tend to wiggle around when you sleep, you may wake up on the floor. Don't forget to get some fresh air in there, too.

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Categories: Camping