Cold weather larping

Larping through the winter can be equally as fun as in the warmer months, if you put a little bit of time and planning into your gear. Below is a set of guidelines and tips that we have collected over the years, taken in large part from the world of backpacking and camping. 


Clothing: layers, layers, layers

LARPing through the winter calls for the same preparation as backpacking. The simple rule of winter camping is to stay dry and warm. Choose clothing layers that wick moisture, dry quickly, insulate and are waterproof and breathable. By adjusting these layers, you can regulate the amount of warmth you need.
When it comes to cold weather clothes, don’t skimp on quality. It might seem like a good idea to save some $$$ by getting a cheaper item. While we don’t think everyone needs to spend $800 on a jacket you’ll get more out of items that are made for the job. Spending a little extra will leave you warmer, more comfortable moving around and with happier memories of the weekend. The 3 basic layers:

The base layer is basically your underwear—the layer next to your skin. Synthetic and merino wool fabrics work best (avoid cotton). They wick perspiration away from your skin to outer layers so it can evaporate. They dry quickly so you spend minimal time in wet clothing. When winter camping, it's common to wear 2 base layers: a lightweight or midweight layer, then a thicker heavyweight layer. Weight of the layer is easily found when shopping for a base layer. The higher the number, the warmer (and bulkier) it will be.

We are fond of for  base layer gear.

The middle layer is your insulating layer. It is primarily designed to help you retain body heat. For winter camping, consider expedition-weight fleece or microfleece shirts, pants and jacket and/or a goose down jacket. or

The outer layer, or shell, is your waterproof/windproof/breathable layer. Laminates such as Gore-Tex, eVent or REI Elements offer premium protection. Less expensive alternatives use polyurethane-coated fabrics that are equally waterproof but somewhat less breathable. Look for core vents and underarm vents that expel excess heat and moisture. Since we’re all costuming while also trying to keep warm, you can substitute out your outer layer with costuming pieces instead, though it will not be quite as effective.

 Essential pieces:

 Hats: You lose a significant percentage of your body heat through the top of your head. Follow the old mountaineering adage: "If your feet are cold, put on a hat." Consider windproof models such as those made of Gore WindStopper fabric.

 Scarves: Not just for Rovers, you can lose a lot of heat from your neck. Wear a scarf made of wool, fleece or other warm material. It’ll also double as a good pillow!

Socks: Wear a thin, snug layer next to your skin and a second layer over it, both made of merino wool or a synthetic fabric. The thickness of your second sock is determined by your boot fit. An extra-thick sock will not keep your feet warm if it makes your boots too tight. Take extras. When they get wet, put them in the sleeping bag next to you to dry. Bring twice as many pairs of socks as you think you’ll need. DO NOT EVER WEAR THE SAME SOCKS TO BED AS YOU WORE DURING THE DAY!


tent and sleeping gear

Put some thought into your sleeping gear for the winter and your LARPing weekends will be 1000% better.

Warm sleeping in cold weather breaks down into 3 major parts (details below):

- The right size tent
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad

Past that, there are a few parts that can change things dramatically:

- Use the bathroom! Keeping pee warm robs the rest of your body of warmth.
- Wear clean clothes. Damp/sweaty clothes will get cold and are touching you.
- Eat a snack or meal right before you go to sleep. Give your body the calories it needs to stay warm.
- Wear a hat to bed. Same as during the day, you lose a lot of heat from your head.
- Consider a sleeping bag liner, it will make you 10-15 degrees warmer.

First, a smaller tent is a better tent when it’s cold outside. It sounds counterintuitive, but your body can heat up a smaller space more rapidly than a larger one. Also, having multiple people in one tent will warm the space up better than one person per tent. Four-season tents keep you warmer. When shopping for a tent, it should be clearly listed whether it’s 3 or 4 season. The dimensions should also be available on the packaging. Make sure everyone fits.

Second, buy a sleeping bag that’s rated for the temperature expected. The rated temperature will be listed on the package. Don’t chose by price, chose based on temp rating. Bags have different sizes. Make sure it’s long enough to leave you some foot room, but not so large that you’re swimming in it.

Everyone has a different slumber comfort zone. If you’re a cold sleeper (i.e., you keep a comforter on your bed until May), use a bag rated at least 10°F lower than you think. You can always unzip your bag if it gets too warm. I *always* assume it’s going to be like the arctic and plan for that. If you’re buying used, know that older sleeping bags gradually lose their insulating properties due to reduced loft. A decade-old 30°F bag might only work to 45°F.…

Third, a sleeping pad underneath your sleeping bag doesn’t just smooth out rocks and roots. Insulating yourself from the ground is more important than insulating yourself from the cold air. Thanks to the laws of heat transfer, the cold ground is quite adept at stealing your body heat during the night. A thick sleeping pad—inflated with air or made with closed-cell foam—insulates against heat loss to keep you warmer. When camping in winter, opt for the fattest pad possible—at least an inch thick—or use two pads. The trade-off between a 1-inch pad and a 2.5-inch pad can be the difference between a restless night and pleasant dreams. Foam pads can be purchased for relatively cheap.