You place the trail map back on the table and walk towards the window, coffee in hand. Flakes of snow float gently to the ground until they settle onto the top layer of powder. Walking back to the table, you open up your laptop to check the most recent weather report. Nope. The temps won’t be getting above freezing this weekend. Not even close.

Now, one of two things may run through a camper’s mind. The first response might sound like this.

“Damn, this camping trip is going to be a cold one, maybe we should just stay home.”

On the other hand, it might go something like this.

“The peaks and pines will be so beautiful covered in snow. This trip is going to be EPIC!”

The difference between these two responses? The right gear.

Winter Camping | Winter Sleeping Bag | Therm-a-Rest Polar Ranger

The ground, the right pad, and you.

You’ve skied or snowshoed to your camp spot and it’s time to get cozy. Tossing the pack down, you begin to assemble your tent. You step inside, kicking your boots off in the vestibule. Sitting in your socks, you realize just how cold the ground is.

Conduction is heat loss that occurs when your body is warmer than the ground below you. Your body will continue to lose heat until the ground beneath you warms- a fight you aren’t going to win. This is where your mattress comes in.

Our mattresses are all given an R-Value, a measurement of the mattress’s resistance of heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation provided.

Winter Sleeping Pad | NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad

When the Therm-a-Rest crew wants to keep things light for a night on the snow, we grab our NeoAir® XTherm pad. With an R-value of 5.7 and weighing in at 15 ounces, the XTherm has the most warmth per ounce of any air mattress in the world. Another great option is our NeoAir® All Season, a cult favorite among the Therm-a-Rest tribe.

Already have a pad you love? An easy and cheap way to add some precious R-value is slapping a RidgeRest® or Z Lite under your current pad. You’ll barely notice the pad on your pack (the Z Lite weighs in at 14 ounces), and the extra 2.6 to 3.5 points of R-value push most three-season mattresses to be winter ready.

Heating up with the right insulation


The tent is up, your pad is beckoning for you to kick back, but you still need to pull out your sleeping bag. You shiver a bit as you dig through your pack. You begin to wonder how warm you will actually be tonight.

There is a lot to consider when picking a bag. When looking at our sleeping bags, we give you a range from comfortable to risky. This will give you an idea of what kind of warmth you might expect from our bags.

For example, the Oberon Sleeping Bag, has a comfort rating of 14 degrees Fahrenheit and a limit rating of 0 degrees.

Winter Sleep System | Winter Sleeping Bag | Winter Sleeping Pad

Knowing the weather conditions and how your body heats will allow you to make the best decision concerning your insulation. Reading more on temperature ranges and the EN 1357 Standard (hyperlink to the right sleeping bag part 1 blog) will help you choose the best temperature rating for your body type.

Now, what if you check the weather and decide your bag is not quite warm enough? Just grab a quilt.

Winter Sleep System | Camping Quilt | Winter Sleeping Bag

Our quilts are not only staples for summer camping, but can be an essential part of your winter camping kit. For those of you picturing one of your grandmas colorful knit quilts, let us tell you about the quilts our team of engineers put together. While colorful, our quilts also feature a great blend of warmth, weight, and compactability. In the right situation, the Corus Quilt can add up to 30 degrees of warmth to your sleep system. Pairing a Therm-a-Rest quilt with your three-season can help create a warm place to rest before a day of winter fun. Our quilts also feature loop that snap onto your bag without compressing the insulation

The right gear paired with the right know-how

The gear is packed and the stoke is high, but before you take off, let us leave you with a few more tips on getting out in low temperatures. Things like staying hydrated and dry can be just as important as the right amount of insulation and a high R-value.

  • Staying hydrated and fed will help your body regulate itself normally. Make sure to pack plenty of food to give your body the energy that it needs to create heat while you sleep.
  • Keeping you and your gear dry is crucial. Let your gear dry properly in the sun anytime it is damp from precipitation or condensation.
  • Don’t store wet gear in your sleeping bag overnight. The moisture will make your insulation less efficient.
  • Wearing a dry base layer while sleeping will wick away sweat and save you from the chilling effects of moisture.

The right gear and the right know-how will not only help you rest better; it will help you play better.

See you out there!