There's something so peaceful and calming about winter camping. The way the fresh, unbothered snow covers the ground and silence fills the air. Also, the best part about camping in the cold... no mosquitoes eating you alive! Well, many people tend to miss out on this experience due to the harsh winter weather. If you are properly prepared with the right gear and knowledge, then there is nothing stopping you.
Bring the right gear
The most important thing to do before winter camping is to properly prepare. It's important to stay warm the entire time, as it will be hard to warm up once you're already cold. Try out winter apparel and accessories from Gobi Heat and PolarEx, to stay warm in even the harshest conditions. Make sure to wear a pair of waterproof boots with a pair of ice cleats strapped onto the bottoms to help keep you safe while trekking through the ice and snow. Be sure to have enough extra clothes, hats, and gloves in case the ones you're wearing get wet or lost. If you don't want to have to worry about being cold and wet and don't want to pack extra layers, check out Fortress Clothing. Their heated apparel will keep you warm regardless of how wet you get- watch them put their gear to the ultimate test.
If you want to pack a little heavier than usual, just to be prepared, bring a sled along so you can pull your gear. With that being said, still keep in mind that pulling a sled will not be practical if you will be hiking up any step slopes or on narrow trails. You can cover your sled with a tarp that you can also use while at your campsite to cover over any gear being left outside of your tent or even to lay down under your tent as an extra precaution. Another use for your tarp is to act as a wind wall. Just tie it up between two trees!
Choosing your campsite and setting up
Choosing the right campsite is important anytime you head out camping, but especially in the colder months. It's best to avoid setting up camp on the top of hills, due to being more exposed to winds. If for some reason you cannot escape the wind, build up a "snow wall" to reduce the impact of any wind. You also want to make sure you aren't on or right below a slope, in case of a possible avalanche.
Before setting up your tent, make sure to pack down the snow in the area your tent will be on top of. Doing so, will help reduce the risk of uneven ground causing your tent's floor to possibly tear. Also, it's best to use snow stakes because a standard tent stake won't do much good in the snow.
Extra tips & tricks
- To help reduce the risk of windburn and frostbite, cover any of your exposed skin with some Vaseline. Vaseline can also be used along with foil and a cotton ball to quickly start a small fire.
- Store water bottles upside down. Doing so, will make your bottle tops less likely to get frozen shut.
- Keep any electronics or extra batteries warm by storing them close to your body, like in your jacket or sleeping bag. This will allow the battery life to last longer.
- Winter nights are longer and you will be probably spending most of them bundled up in your sleeping bag. Make sure to bring something to do during that time like a good book or some playing cards to keep you entertained.
- Pack plenty of food before heading out because your body burns calories faster in the winter in order to help you stay warm.
- If you start to get cold, don't curl up in your sleeping bag. Instead, get moving! Go for a walk or even do some jumping jacks or sit-ups to get your blood flowing a little. You can also stick some hand warmers in your sleeping bag with you when you sleep at night to ensure warmth.
- Try not to put on too many layers, because your goal is not not be sweating too much. Too much water loss can increase your risk of hypothermia, due to possible dehydration and quicker heat loss. So, make sure to adjust your layers based on your activity level at that time.
If you still are worried about camping, due to the low temperatures, try out RV camping! You can still experience the beauty of winter, but without having to sleep outside in a tent. Keep in mind that there are still many precautions with RV camping in the winter. Make sure your RV is "winterized" and be sure to look out for any poor road conditions that could risk your safety.
Where are some of the best places to go winter camping in the United States?
- Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
- Acadia National Park, Maine
Adirondack Mountains, New York
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Leave a comment below with what your favorite winter camping spot is, or any tips & tricks you have for camping in the winter!