How to keep your camera (and yourself) warm in winter

If you are going somewhere cold this winter during your travels, read these tips and tricks I have picked up along the way to make sure you and your camera stay warm and protected! 

My pride & joy – my Canon!

The first thing to do for your camera is to make sure that any temperature changes happen as slowly as possible. Going from the coziness of your home to sub-zero temperatures quickly might damage your camera, as there is a chance that condensation can form on the inside. Therefore, before you head out on your adventure, place your camera in a car or garage where your camera can adjust to the environmental changes. As you do this for about an hour, take your battery out of the camera and keep it warm to extend its battery life for when you are shooting. 

That said, even if your camera is turned off in cold weather, your battery will begin to lose its charge much quicker than if you were in more mild temperatures. Keep a couple extra batteries on you close to your body to keep them warm. When you notice your battery is draining, switch it out with one of your toasty batteries! 

Lastly, bring a freezer bag with you. BEFORE you head inside, open the airtight plastic bag and put your camera inside and seal the bag. Now your camera will be surrounded only by dry air. When you go from the cold outdoors to a heated area to warm up, the condensation that will form from the change in temperature will now form on the outside of the bag, instead of on or in your camera! Leave the camera in this bag for two hours before taking it out. 

With regard to keeping your body warm, smart layers are key. Wear thin, warm layers instead of a couple of bulky thick layers. Keeping dry is important, as chill will set in more quickly if you are wet. Therefore, you want to steer clear of absorbent materials like cotton, and stick to merino wool, fleece, and knits. On my upper body, I wear a base layer that is made of synthetic material like polyester, a synthetic down vest (keeping your core warm is very important to protect your organs!), a fleece, and a down jacket. 

Here I am in Rigaud, Quebec in matching base layers

Your legs are just as important, and therefore I layer with plush lined tights, leggings made of synthetic materials (basically any pair of long johns will do), SmartWool pants, and ski pants with a bib. I wear two pairs of socks, making sure my circulation is still good, and insulated snow boots. 

For accessories, it is important to have a hat to keep heat from escaping, a scarf, and a neck warmer to pull up over your face. Your skin is the largest organ you have, so it is important to cover it up and keep it safe from things like frostbite. For gloves, I have Gore-Tex gloves that have a breathable membrane so while water cannot come in, sweat can escape. If you do not need to operate a camera, I would strongly suggest mittens, as they keep your fingers warmer than gloves. 

Pictured: 5 layers on top, 4 layers on the bottom, 3 pairs of socks, liner gloves, snow boots, a neck warmer, scarf, hat, & ski goggles!

Stock up on hand and toe warmers, and activate them just before you go outside, as they could take up to 30 minutes to warm up. Stay safe out there!