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Women cover her face from the cold to try to keep her face warm

If you’ve ever camped in cold weather, you know how miserable it is when your face goes numb. 

I’ve done a lot of wild camping in Scotland, so I’m well accustomed to walking against an icy mountain wind. I had a bit of a shock the first time I headed into the highlands in the wintertime. 

I’d love to tell you that I handled the extreme conditions with grace and determination, but to be honest, I soon had snot frozen to my face and started crying that my nose was going to fall off.

To keep your face warm the next time you’re camping, you can get a balaclava or neck warmer. You can also wrap a warm scarf around your face, pull up your hood, and zip your coat right to the top. In addition, consider using a mummy-style sleeping bag, which comes with an integrated hood. 

New campers frequently make the mistake of trying to heat their tents instead of focusing on heating their bodies.

This article will give you pointers in that department, so you don’t end up wasting your time and energy on an impossible task. 

Types of Face Covering 

In this section, I’ll give you a bit more information about each type of face covering so that you can choose the best option for your needs.

Remember, once your face is cold, it’s hard to warm it up again. That means you’re better off taking early measures to stop yourself from getting too cold in the first place. 

Balaclava 

A balaclava covers your entire face, head, and neck, and the tops of your shoulders. There is a gap for your eyes and your mouth so that you can still see and breathe (always helpful!) but you’re otherwise completely covered.

Balaclavas are probably the most effective way of keeping your face warm when camping, but they have their downsides. I find them pretty claustrophobic, and you don’t have the flexibility you would have with a snood. (Either it’s covering your entire face or it’s off; there’s no in-between.) 

It’s also worth mentioning that some people might feel threatened if they see you in a balaclava because they are frequently used in horror and thriller movies, as well as in real-life crimes, to hide someone’s identity. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them.

It just means you might want to consider other people’s feelings. If you run into a woman solo hiking on the trail, you might not want to approach her for a chat if you’re in a group of guys wearing balaclavas.

It all depends on the context, of course, because no one would bat an eye if you were wearing one while cross-country skiing.

Pros

  • Effective—keeps you nice and warm

Cons

  • Can feel a bit claustrophobic 
  • Not very versatile 
  • Can scare people (just be extra considerate)

Neck Warmer

A neck warmer is a tube scarf that you pull over your head. 

You can leave it around your neck like a scarf, or you can pull it up over your nose for extra warmth. You can also push your neck warmer over your ears, so it’s more of a hat/ear warmer instead. 

Pros

  • Less claustrophobic than a balaclava (doesn’t cover the top of your face)
  • Versatile (can be used as a scarf, face warmer, or hat)

Cons

  • Not as warm as a balaclava
  • Tends to fall down your face quite a lot (can be annoying to readjust) 

Face Mask

You’ll also hear people referring to face masks for skiing, but these are usually just a balaclava or a neck warmer with a different name. 

The only difference you might find is that some ‘face masks’ have breathing holes around the mouth area, which you wouldn’t normally find in a neck warmer. 

More Ways to Keep Your Face Warm

Existing Kit 

Like I said earlier, there’s no reason why you can’t use the kit you already have to keep your face warm. 

You might want to wrap a scarf around your face and tuck it into the front of your coat to stop any heat from escaping.

You can also pull up your hood and secure it nice and tight to stop the wind from getting inside any gaps, as well as zip your coat right to the top. 

Sleeping Bag

A mummy-style sleeping bag will keep your face much warmer at night because it has a hood. 

Each sleeping bag comes with information about the kinds of temperatures you can use it in, normally with a ‘comfort zone’ and a ‘safety zone.’ Ensure your sleeping bag is suitable for your chosen climate, and bear in mind that temperatures can quickly drop from day to night. 

To make sure your sleeping bag stays effective for longer, don’t store it in the stuff pack. It’s better to keep it in a larger hold-all or bin liner at home and just compress it for your camping trip. 

Campfire

A campfire can be another way to stay warm in the evenings.

Just make sure it’s allowed in the place where you are camping, as there is a serious risk of wildfires if you start a campfire in unsuitable conditions. It’s best to use a fire pit or existing fire ring where possible, and you should keep your fires small and manageable. Don’t try to make a huge bonfire. 

For loads more information about campfire cooking and safety, check out this article

Tents With a Wood Burner

There are some amazing bell tents that you can use with a wood burner. These are brilliant for staying warm on long-term camping trips. 

They are a bit expensive and hard to set up for shorter camping trips, but they are great for people who are staying in a tent while building their main property. (They are also a great investment because you can rent them out as glamping accommodation later down the line.)

Just a heads up: Never attempt to light a fire in a regular tent because you could easily burn down your shelter or give yourself carbon monoxide poisoning!

FAQs

What’s the best way to warm up a tent?

Rather than trying to warm up your tent, it’s more effective to focus on keeping your body warm. Wear lots of layers, including a hat and gloves, and get a suitable sleeping bag with a hood. A hot water bottle is also an excellent investment. 

Can you get heaters for your tent?

You can technically get a heater for your tent, but it isn’t always cost-effective because you will constantly lose heat through the tent walls. 

How can I stay warm in my sleeping bag?

To stay warm in your sleeping bag, wear lots of layers. It’s best to have a base layer that wicks away moisture so you don’t get too cold if you sweat at night.

You can also use a hot water bottle or fill a Nalgene drinking bottle with hot water and keep it at your feet. 

How can I prevent hypothermia?

Bring along an emergency foil blanket on any hike. If you are getting too cold, you can wrap it around yourself before getting into your sleeping bag.

By doing this, you will sweat a lot at night, so make sure you have dry clothes to change into later. If in doubt, call mountain rescue!

Final Thoughts

If you want to keep your face warm during your next camping trip, you should get a hold of a balaclava or neckwarmer. They aren’t expensive, and they will make a huge difference in your comfort.

A mummy-style sleeping bag is best for nighttime, as you can pull the strings around the hood to keep yourself nice and cozy. 

You can also consider starting a campfire or getting a tent with a stove jack. Just make sure you take the necessary steps to stay safe and protect the environment. 

I hope you found this article helpful, and I wish you many warm and happy camping trips!

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Rachel Horne - Writer for the camper lifestyle

Rachel Horne

Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.


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