3 Tips for Cool Weather Camping

I know! I know! It is the middle of the summer and here in Iowa, there is definitely nothing remotely chilly about camping these days.

Imagine my surprise when our scheduled vacation to Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming had weather forcasted to be between 30-70 degrees.

I needed to quickly change my preconceived, Midwest summer expectations and prepare for some cool weather camping that not only kept us comfortable, but helped us enjoy our time together in nature.



Here are three things that helped us have a great camping trip in less than desirable weather conditions.


1.Proper layers

As I was packing for our trip I knew that layering clothing was the key to keeping my family warm and dry. I didn’t know, however, how exactly to achieve this desired effect. After some research and a reaching out to our local Hike it Baby leader, I understood the basics. It simply comes down to three layers.

The first layer that is against your skin is intended to keep your skin dry. The best materials for achieving this is either wool or a synthetic fabric. We all wore thermal underwear that was fitted to our bodies so that the next layer could be put on more easily.

The next layer I like to think of as the “keeps you warm” layer. Fleece works really well for this layer. You can build this layer depending on the temperature. For sleeping at night my children wore their thermal underwear, wool socks, fleece footie pajamas and a fleece hoodie. During the day, only one layer of fleece was needed and usually a long sleeved tee shirt was worn between the thermals and the fleece.

The final layer that we unfortunately needed quite often is a waterproof wind barrier. We all wore light weight, waterproof jackets that had a hood. By not allowing the wind or rain through, our jackets allowed our inner layers to do their job and keep us warm. I was actually surprised at how willing my children were to be out hiking in rainy, cool weather.

2.Easy food

One of my favorite things about camping is cooking over the fire. This activity is slightly hindered though when damp, rainy conditions make starting that fire a challenge. Add some tired, hungry children into the mix and my favorite activity could have become a nightmare. I found that having an easy meal for the children while we cooked a more substantial meal saved our sanity.

Applesauce pouches, nuts and cheese sticks were enough to make everyone a little more patient while we got the fire going and prepared a hot meal and since we had been busy hiking during the day, having two suppers was always appreciated.

3.Planned inside activities

I have to admit that the weather on one day of our trip was simply so awful, that even with our added layers, we simply did not want to be outside. We packed up our van and headed into the closest town for the day. I wish that I would have made a plan for this day before we left for our trip. Instead, we wasted time wandering around the town and the internet trying to find places to go and thing to do. Next time our family heads out for a camping trip, I’ll spend a few minutes while we are still at home to learn about the local attractions in the closest town. This forethought would have made our rainy day run much smoother.

I hope these tips help you prepare for a memorable, fun, camping trip with your family.

What are your tips for camping in less than ideal conditions? Share them with us on our Facebook page!