How to Stay Warm While Backpacking


POV: You’re in your tent. It’s dark, you’re tired, and above all… you’re shivering. What did you do to deserve this fate of relative discomfort? Do I get up, or do I hunker down to get warmer? 

Although we can’t answer why exactly, here are some quick tips to make sure you stay warm while backpacking. 

Exercise and Body Temperature 

Quilts work by trapping body heat. This means that if you go to bed cold, your quilt has less heat to trap and is less effective. One quick solution to this is some physical exercise. A quick set of air squats and pushups can raise your core temperature and keep you warm in your quilt at night. 

Food, Water and Alcohol

What we eat and drink has a significant difference on our body temperature. Our body burns food to keep us warm. This means your intake throughout the day can affect your sleep. Furthermore, what and when you eat before bed can impact how well you sleep. Try to eat a high-fat dessert (cosmic brownie, anyone?) before tucking in for the evening to provide your body fuel to burn for the entire night and stay warm in your backpacking quilt. 

Dehydration can also leave you feeling cold. A hot drink before bed lets your body rehydrate and raises your temperature before heading off to sleep. It’s a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed. Alcohol and caffeine prevent blood flow and leave you colder. 

Pee Right Before Bed

No need to go into extreme depth. Your body uses energy to keep urine in your body warm. This energy could be used to keep the rest of your body warm. Also, having to relieve yourself at night can cause a loss of temperature as you leave your warm quilt to go into the cold night. 

Sleep Clothes and Headgear 

Proper sleep clothes are key to staying warm while backpacking. First, it’s important not to sleep in wet clothes because they can dampen and cause your quilt to insulate less. Second, the thickness of your sleep clothes can impact the total warmth of your sleep system. Finally, if you consistently sleep in dirty clothes, it can reduce the loft and warmth of your quilt in the long term. 

Because quilts don’t have hoods, headgear is crucial to stay warm while backpacking. We recommend a standalone Torrid Hood, but some prefer hoods on jackets (like our Torrid Apparel), buffs, or beanies. 

Hot Water Bottle 

One option that can help ensure a warm night’s sleep is to fill a water bottle with hot/boiling water and store it at the bottom of your sleeping bag. This is especially useful in emergency situations but is not recommended for consistent use. This is not recommended with popular smart water bottles and should only be attempted with Nalgene or other hard-sided water bottles. 

If employing this tactic, it is absolutely crucial to ensure proper closure of the water bottle to avoid leaks. With your water bottle slightly under-filled with water just below boiling temperature, wrap the bottle in a sock to protect your skin.