With the abundance of public lands available throughout the desert it’s no surprise that nomads flock to these area in the winter to escape the snowy regions of the United States. What many people don’t realize is that there is quite a fluctuation in temperature from day to night. In the winter Arizona desert temperatures average in the 60’s while at night they can easily drop below freezing. For those that are new to boondocking out in the desert you may want to “get up to par” on cold weather protection in the desert for nomads.


Know Where to Set Up

Many nomads use apps to find great boondocking sites but for those of you that enjoy venturing out on your own make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings. Pick a location that will keep you safe and dry. Be aware of the terrain and try to stay out of washes since flash floods are possible. It’s recommended to stay on high ground and, to be honest, you get the best stargazing views if you’re on higher ground.

Wear Proper Footwear

Nomads tend to chase the warm weather which means we don’t generally have an assortment of footwear for different climates. Many of us enjoy the freedom of going barefoot or just throwing on a pair of sandals. Desert terrain can be harsh since there are spiky bushes and cactuses spread about. In the desert it is advised to wear a good pair of hiking boots or a pair of shoes. Boots provide added protection against rattlesnakes since they are known to be slithering around the area.

Use the Sun to its Advantage

In the winter months the sun goes down earlier in the day so make good use of it. If you need to dry out clothing or warm up water for your solar shower then it’s best to do that earlier in the day. It gets chilly pretty fast when that sun disappears so enjoy that warmth while you have it.

Stay Updated on Weather

Desert weather can change pretty rapidly so it is recommended to check in daily. In the winter snow, rain, thunderstorms, hail, and flash floods are possible depending on the altitude that you’re camped at. If you don’t have cell service then just try and keep an eye out for storms. Flash floods can, especially, catch you off guard. Make sure that you are prepared for weather changes.

Sleeping Comfortably

Some nomads have heaters in their vehicle which helps out tremendously on those cold desert nights but many of us don’t have that luxury. Insulation is key to staying warm so you could double up on clothing for added warmth. A good thick blanket (or multiple blankets) will be the best thing in providing comfort and warmth. Keeping out of the wind is always a good rule of thumb as well if you’re tent camping. If you have the power then perhaps a nice heated blanket would do the trick.

Dry Clothing

It can get rather hot during the day in the desert which results in sweating. This can make our clothes damp and if you have damp clothes on when the sun goes down you’re going to get cold. Always make sure you have dry clothes to wear at night. Actually, it’s best to have a specific wardrobe for sleepy time.

Camp Fires

Camp fires are pretty common in the desert and it’s a great way to get nice and warm before you head off to bed. It’s especially handy if you have wet clothes that need drying. Always make sure to put your fires out before you go to bed!

Hypothermia can set in if you’re not prepared for the cold winter months in the desert. Sometimes hikers miscalculate the sun in the winter time so around the winter solstice plan to be back to your campsite no later than 4:00 pm. Cold weather protection in the desert for nomads is essential for a pleasant camping experience.

If we are forgetting anything here feel free to use the comment sections below.


  • Butterfly Gypsy
    Posted September 9, 2021 2:22 pm

    Best defense against the cold nights in the desert are insulated socks, long John’s, layers upon layers on top of those long John’s lol, polyester blankets & satin sheets!
    Hand warmers as well if need be, since they can be placed in the bottom of you feet to help keep you that much warmer at night! Just make sure you have two pairs of socks on & place the hand warmer pack in between the 2 layers!
    Yes satin sheets are cold at first, but the material is key! Both satin & polyester don’t breath like cotton. Instead they retain the heat, not allowing it to escape (like cotton does) & keep you nice & toasty! Even if you get up to use the bathroom several times a night like I do! They will still be warm when you hop back in bed!
    I speak from 6 years of experience doing this life in RV’s, a van, a small luxury sports car I made a micro camper & a tent! Best advice I can give! Stay warm & safe travels!

    • The Digital Nomad Guy
      Posted September 9, 2021 2:33 pm

      Thanks for the superb tips Butterfly! It’s great hearing what other nomads use to stay warm. Peace & Love Friend.

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