With the temperatures dropping, and our summer camping gear put away, it is now the perfect time to winter camp! Winter is a great time to go camping; there are less people, the snow creates jaw-dropping scenery, the winter’s silence is captivating, and when done correctly you’ll stay warm, dry, and safe. We wanted to give you a checklist to ensure that your next winter camp is enjoyable.
Winter Camping Is Fun When Done Right
Plan Your Camp Ahead
- Know Before You Go: Have a plan on where you are going. Some campgrounds may be closed, or inaccessible, for the winter. You don’t want to arrive at your favorite summer camping spot, only to find that you can’t get there. Make sure you inform others
where you plan on going. You don’t want to be the reason for the next Search & Rescue mission if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
- Know the Forecast: Don’t get caught in Snow-mageddon. Know the conditions that you will be camping in, and if the forecast looks like things might be a little too hairy – wait until the next weekend when you’ll be able to enjoy your camping trip and not worried about how much snow is on top of your tent.
- Four-Season Tent: When you are winter camping, you will need a four-season tent. What sets a four-season tent apart from a three-season tent is it has the ability to withstand the harsher conditions that it may go through in the winter (ie. Higher wind rating, ability to withstand snowfall).
- Cold Weather Sleeping Bag: When you are winter camping, the last thing you want is to be cold while you are sleeping. Make sure your sleeping bag’s temperature rating is -25F or lower. This should keep you comfortable during the night.
- Wool Blanket: It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. Bringing a wool blanket to sleep with in your sleeping bag, or to put over your bag, will help you to keep warm and comfortable.
- Pillow: Nothing makes for a longer night than laying your head on the cold tent floor.
- Headlamp/flashlight: The nights are longer in the wintertime and you want to make sure that you have plenty of light to see your campsite and in your tent.
- Sleeping Pad: A sleeping pad is essential to help you stay warm as it gets you off the cold tent floor. When winter camping, opt for a sleeping pad and not a cot, as a cot allows the cold air to complete flow underneath your body.
- First-aid kit: Again, it is better safe than sorry.
- Sun protection: This is a common thing for beginner winter campers to forget. Though the UV Index might not be as strong in the wintertime, the sun reflects off of the snow increasing the possibility of a sunburn. Bring sunscreen, sun glasses and lip balm.
- Water bottle: Staying hydrated is essential whenever you are camping, but sometimes easy to forget when you are in cold weather. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water even though you might not feel thirsty.
Winter Camping Clothing
The most important thing when packing for winter camping is to remember to dress in layers. It is easy to shed layers to cool down, if needs be, but if you are too cold it is impossible to add clothes you didn’t bring.
- Base Layer: Start with some warm underwear. Thermal underwear, top and bottom, is great way to start out.
- Next Layer: Have your next layer be pants and a warm shirt. If it gets warm enough in the day, this will give you something to wear around camp while still being comfortable.
- Outer Layer: Have a warm, waterproof outer layer. This includes a winter coat and snow pants.
- Dry clothing: It is best to have a back-up of dry clothing at camp in case your clothes get wet.
- Warm Socks: Just like a wedding, cold feet will make your experience pretty miserable.
- Boots: Make sure your boots are waterproof. Your boots is what will be between you and the snow, make sure they are warm and will keep the snow out.
- Gloves/mittens: Any time your hands will be touching the snow, which is a lot while camping in the winter, you will want waterproof gloves to protect you from the cold.
- Hat/beanie: Keeping your head and ears warm is crucial for your safety and comfort. Wear a wool or fleece hat in order to stay warm and comfortable.
- Fire wood: Does the camp ground where you are headed sell dry firewood? If not, or you are unsure, bring your own firewood. Having a fire is critical to stay warm and you do not want to be searching for some dry firewood in a forest that is covered with snow.
Winter camping is a great way to get away and connect with Mother Nature in a season when not a lot of people take advantage of the beauty that surrounds us. Remember, though, that winter camping has more inherent risk than summer camping. Stay alert and don’t be afraid to pack things up if you aren’t fully comfortable. What did we miss? What do you take with you when winter camping? Let’s talk about in the comments below!