When trying to camp in freezing conditions there are some factors should be considered. Keeping dry is the number 1, do not get wet and if you get wet or your gear gets wet get out of the wet into dry. This is critical to keep your body heat from dropping. But, camping in the cold can be a fun experience if you plan accordingly.
1. Layer up the clothing!
Yes, try to wear layers to keep your body heat in and the cold out, especially at night. Don't layer to the point of sweating or you are breaking the number 1 rule, do not get wet. A nice layer of long underwear, a fleece layer and even a layer of sweats on top of that to keep warm is important. Wear a hat with a nose cover and facemask preferably. Try to keep all the air that is inside the sleeping bag in and the outside out. This can help you form a nice cozy pouch for the night.
2. Cold Weather Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad and Groundsheet
Invest in a really great sleeping bag, you can thank us later. A really good sleeping bag will make life wonderful. Get a sleeping bag that is rated for 20 degrees colder than you think you might be in. If you don't have any, then double up on the sleeping bags and bring 2 along. This will help keep your body heat in as you sleep.
The sleeping pads are your friend and you want to bring at least 2 sleeping pads. The more layers you have, the better, as the ground can literally suck the heat right out of you. Getting nice thick sleeping pads is great as well. And, you can even use another sleeping bag as another layer of protection if needed. Or a cot and then the layers will get you off the heat sucking ground and is a bit more comfortable.
Be sure to have a layer that has plastic down first. Because, what was our number one rule?!? Stay dry. The ground is frozen and it could melt and get condensation. So, having an EVA mat would aid against that.
3. Higher Ground for Camping - Remember Cold Sinks
We all know this when we are inside but sometimes we forget it when we are outside. It can be warmer on higher ground. If you are sleeping in snow try to dig out some snow pits, this traps the cold air in the pockets and allows you to have warmer air.
4. Eat Lots
Your body needs fuel to keep warm and this is a great time to eat lots of healthy snacks and not worry about extra pounds. Eating lots of hearty food can help you mentally as well. And, it can help with an endorphin rush in times of severe cold. Bring lots of good and cozy food that you can warm by the fire.
5. Bring a Heat Source
Yes, having a heat source in your tent is quite a luxury. If you bring a heat source for the tent ensure you have proper ventilation as they can cause Carbon Monoxide to build up. Or have a fire going outside the tent that isn't too close. You wouldn't want a melted tent so do this on the upwind side. The toxic gases sink with cold air so this is another reason to sleep on the higher ground in the tent. Having a cot would be ideal if you plan to use an alternate heat source as the heat can get under you.