When you get cold sleeping outside in the summertime, you can be pretty uncomfortable. When you get cold sleeping outside in the wintertime, you can possibly die.

The possibly lethal threat that winter camping presents raises the stakes when it comes to staying warm. Not only is your comfort important, but your very life could be on the line. Here are eight ways to stay warm while winter camping in the snow:

Thicker sleeping bag

Whatever you typically use for a sleeping bag, you want to carry one that’s thicker and rated for colder temperatures in the wintertime. Even if a bag is rated for 20 degrees, it will likely not be too comfortable at that temperature, so go ahead and error on the side of thickness.

Thicker sleeping pad

Likewise you want to carry into the back-country a thicker sleeping pad as well. The sleeping pad is one of most important pieces of gear to keep you warm at night, so don’t take it lightly. Check the temperature rating on the next pad you buy.

More clothes

There’s pretty much no changing clothes when your winter camping. Whatever you start out wearing, you’ll likely wear through the day and night. For this reason, you won’t need to pack too much other than what’s on your back, but be sure it’s warm enough to make it through the night.

Wool

You can rely on as much high-tech synthetic fabric, but nothing is as warm and insulating as natural warm. If you’re serious about winter camping, it’s important to invest in a pair of thick wool socks, sweater and hat, and possibly even wool pants.

Dig a snow cave

A snow cave is surprisingly one of the most warmest ways that you can spend the night in the winter back-country. If you are attempting to dig a snow cave you want to find a spot that is located against a slope so that some of the effort of building the roof is already provided. But be careful that there is no avalanche or cave-in danger.

Seek wind break

If you are pitching a tent in the wintertime, you never want to position it in the open. Look for some cover like trees, rock faces or hills as a wind block.

Build a fire

Of course, you want to build a fire. But where you place that fire is a crucial aspect to staying warm through the night. If there is a natural feature like a rock, consider positioning the fire up against the rock to radiate head.

Hot rocks

A great way to stay warm at night is to utilize the hot rocks around the fire. You can either cradle them in your sleeping bag (after they’ve cooled a bit). Or you can dig a trench and lay the rocks down and pile over dirt or brush and make your bed over that. In this way, you’ll have a bed that keeps you warm from underneath.

Burn a candle

Within a snow cave or tent, simply burning a candle will go a long way toward increasing the air temperature. But especially in a tent, be careful not to tip it over as tent fabric can be extremely flammable.

Sleep inside your horse

And if you’ve forgotten all of these things and you find yourself stranded in the winter back-country on horseback, you can do like Hugh Glass and kill your horse and sleep inside it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia