Have you ever watched someone start to set up camp on a snowy afternoon as you’re returning to your car, and wondered “what the heck are they doing”? The truth is, winter doesn’t have to be a season spent indoors, and the more tricks you know about staying comfortable when temperatures near zero, the more fun you’ll have, and the less you’ll need to give up during the winter season. Whether you’re going the extra mile with your gear or adapting to suit your anatomy, consider these 8 tips to deal with serious cold.

1. Add Boiling Water to Your Nalgene

Being able to boil water is a true pleasure on a cold winter night, and filling your Nalgene with it feels like an age-old trick at this point. Stick it in your sleeping bag, and you’ve got yourself a temporary space heater. You may have even been suggested to put that bottle by your feet once you’re sleeping, or maybe you told someone else about this lifesaver. Take this even further by relocating your Nalgene from your feet to your groin or armpit. Keeping the warm water close to major arteries will help warm up that blood flow and increase circulation, making you warmer than by your feet! Pack along some extra hand or feet warmers to stick them anywhere else you may end up cooling down.

2. Vent Your Tent

Opening up airflow in your tent should be on your mind the longer you’re inside and temperatures are rising. It may seem counterintuitive, but you want to avoid humidity levels and condensation rising over time. That moisture will eventually freeze on surfaces within your tent. The gear and layers you’ve brought will keep you comfortable while moisture is ventilating within your space. A double-walled tent will give you some space to open those doors or panels while keeping the tent dry above, and many have panels near the ceiling intended for this. Winter (four-season) models are built with these ventilation requirements in mind and will be sturdy enough to give you peace of mind when cold winds begin to pick up.

3. Eat Before You Sleep

This one isn’t so much about gear as it is planning ahead while you’re camping. On those lonely solo nights when your calories are your only friend in the backcountry, take a snack to bed, or save half of your dinner and eat it before getting some shuteye. When you digest your food, your digestive system releases heat to the rest of your body. This isn’t to be all the warmth you need and eventually your body will work to cool down. But this, paired with other methods, will help you be comfortable when it matters.

4. Pack Along Extra Fats

Similar to eating a snack, there are benefits to having a warm beverage prior to bed or right after waking up. Be it tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, there’s value to adding a little butter or coconut oil to these drinks. For one, it will be cold enough outside that you shouldn’t have to worry about transporting them from trailhead to campsite. The extra calories from a tablespoon (or however much you’d like, we won’t judge) will help you stay warm or provide extra energy. Plus, it’s always a morale booster to have a hot cup of something in front of you when it’s cold out. Thank us later!

5. Layer Up Carefully

Being bold and starting cold is great advice for the long run. Typically, the more layers you build up, the more likely you will be to perspire and make you and your clothing colder, and more difficult to dry off. Insulating or waterproofing materials are more likely to lead to overheating when exerting a lot of energy. They still hold great merit in cold and wet conditions, but be mindful of how you’re working those items around the rest of your layers. Additionally, depending on your boot size, something like doubling up on socks can lead to reduced circulation and a drop in body temperature.

6. Build a Fire

Starting a fire in the backcountry can be a luxury for a group camping trip with your buddies, or a means of survival to help prevent hypothermia. For starters, don’t count on finding dry or usable wood, and do pack extra handwarmers for a long lasting heat source. If there are options though, make sure wood is downed, dead, and preferably from multiple areas around your campsite (we’re still following Leave No Trace in the winter). If you’ve got extra lint lying around from your drier, pack some along to help get your fire going in a pinch. Multiple sources for fire starting will be crucial, in fact, like water-proof matches, packaged kindling, and even flint. And hike with a lighter close to your body to keep the fuel within it warm enough to work.

7. Go the Extra Step

Give in to the extra gear that winter recreating requires, even though some items may feel like an unnecessary luxury until you’re actively trying them out. Insulated booties fall in this category, but will get you moving out of your sleeping bag and accommodate your feet now that your Nalgene is elsewhere.

Adding layers to your sleep system will help you snooze soundly through the night. Consider a second sleeping pad, preferably closed-cell foam. These will reduce any heat lost to the ground, add comfort, and can often be folded up and brought along on a hike in case you need to rest. And sleeping bag liners will add warmth to your sleeping bag without sacrificing too much weight in your pack. They range from different temperature coverage and can aid in keeping the interior of your bag cleaner and dry, especially if storing clothes or gear inside with you.

8. Stay Proactive

When your night starts to slow down around camp, your instincts may be to stop moving and bundle up. You’re not generating excess body heat when you do this, so you’re going to remain uncomfortably cold for longer. Do exercises like shoveling or stomping down snow, layer up or down inside of your sleeping bag, or sculpt something like a snow bench for yourself when you feel your body temperature might drop soon.

Additionally, it can be a bummer when your camp stay begins with wet or cold clothing from your hike in. If you’re able to build a fire, use it for drying socks; or take advantage of excess room in your sleeping bag and stuff damp pieces of clothing around you while you sleep. In the morning they will be drier, warmer, and overall more tolerable to place back on for the next day of winter fun.