How Cold Is Too Cold for Camping? [Question Answered]

This is a bit of a tricky question to answer. After all, people have camped in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Therefore, theoretically, you can camp in temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees.

That being said, for recreational campers and weekend wanderers using standard, readily available kit there usually is a lower limit.

For most people, the limit will be their comfort. You don’t want to spend your weekends shivering yourself to sleep when you don’t have to.

The right kit like winterized tents, 4 season sleeping bags, and appropriate coats and base layers can make people feel comfortable in lower temperatures.

If you’re looking for a concrete figure, between 30 and 40 degrees is usually considered ‘cold weather camping.’

It can be dangerous if you’re not experienced and prepared for the harsh climate. So, you could consider 40 degrees to be the lower limit for casual camping.  

how cold is too cold for camping

Is 55 Degrees Too Cold for Camping?

55 degrees is quite mild. About half the country experiences temperatures of 55 and above in the springtime.

Camping in 55 degrees will be really pleasant. It might get a bit chillier in the evening but if you bring a suitable coat and sleeping bag, you’ll be absolutely fine.

For these temperatures you’ll want a three-season sleeping bag. This will keep you warm throughout the night even if the mercury drops somewhat.

If you’re still dubious about camping in 55 degrees, just think about how cozy the campfire will be. You’ll be more than comfortable sitting around a fire with a mug of cocoa.

You won’t need to wear gloves or mittens, so you’ll be able to feel the warmth of your mug. How awesome does that sound?

Is 50 Degrees Too Cold for Camping?

50 degrees can feel a lot cooler than 55 degrees even though it’s only 5 degrees lower. That being said, it’s still a perfectly fine temperature to camp in.

If you’re used to higher temperatures you’ll want to bring an extra blanket and some additional layers, but for northern campers, you’ll find it fairly balmy!

If you’re camping at 50 degrees, you’ll want that three-season sleeping bag and warm coats, socks, and base layers. You’ll need to layer up at night to make sure you don’t get too cold.

It’s best to wear a few layers and then add a blanket over your sleeping bag. This way you can easily remove the blanket or a coat if you get too warm.

You don’t need to winterize your tent for 50-degree weather, but you do want to make sure it is zipped up against any wind. The wind can really cause your temperature to drop.

You’ll also definitely want to camp in a tent or some other shelter. 50 degrees is too low for sleeping outside in just your sleeping bag or in a hammock unless you have a much warmer sleeping bag.

Is 30 Degrees Too Cold for Camping?

30 degrees definitely puts us in the winter camping or cold weather camping zone. It’s doable but you need to be prepared.

By this I mean you’ll need to be more selective about your kit and make sure you’re bringing the right stuff.

These temperatures will likely be too cold for families and recreational campers. In all honesty, you shouldn’t really try this unless you’ve got a bit of camping and survival experience.

To start with, you’ll need a winter sleeping bag rated below 30 degrees. Most winter sleeping bags are rated for 20 degrees and lower. These will be more than adequate for camping at 30 degrees.

It might seem like overkill, but it is better to be too warm and have to cool down than to be stuck with a bag that won't warm you up.

As well as your sleeping bag you’ll want to bring some thermal base layers, thermal socks, several sweaters, and warm coats.

If you’re camping with a three-season tent, you’ll need to winterize it at these temperatures.

How Do You Winterize a Tent?

There are a few ways to winterize a tent. The basic idea is that you are trying to minimize heat loss as much as possible.

To that end, the first thing you want to do is choose as small a tent as practical. Larger tents require more heat to warm them.

You also want to make sure that your tent is up to the climate you’ll be camping in. If it’s going to snow, you need a four-season tent.

The next thing you need to know is that tarp is your friend! Stick tarp to the top and bottom of your tent to keep the heat in.

You can also use Mylar blankets or any waterproof blanket. Make sure to tape or tie the tarp in place, so it doesn’t blow away.

When it comes to the inside of your tent, put something insulating on the ground. This could be a heat retention sleeping mat or blankets.

Andrew Mullen

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