Some of us are lucky enough to live in areas where camping year-round is no big thing. We don’t have to worry about things like snow and dangerous temperatures. In other parts of the world, winter means that the camping gear is stored until the Spring Thaw. However, if you prepare correctly you don’t have to take the winter off! Here’s a quick look at the basics of camping in the winter months.
Pick A Good Location
There’s no doubt about it, winter camping is more hazardous than summer camping. With that said, don’t attempt to go too “remote” on your first trip. Pick a site that’s easily accessible and preferably one that’s in a state or national park so you’ll have rangers handy in case something does go wrong. You’re going to need a lot more firewood in the winter than in the summer, so take that into consideration when choosing a spot. Also, if you can find a location with running water nearby you’ll have a much easier trip than if you have to melt snow for drinking water.
Bring The Right Gear
The gear you bring is the most vital component of successful and enjoyable winter camping. To start with, you need to make sure you dress in the right clothing. Layering is key so that you can add or remove clothing as necessary. You want to stay warm but avoid sweating.
In terms of shelter, it’s worth the extra cost to invest in a good 4-season tent. This will ensure that your tent can hold up to the extra strain of high winds and heavy snowfall. The same goes for your sleeping bag. Bags that are rated for extremely low temperatures usually cost more, but it’s well worth the price. Trust us, leave your lightweight summer bag at home if you’re planning to camp in the snow.
Cooking over an open fire in the winter is amazing! However, if you’re not prepared to get a fire going in the winter months it’s OK. You can get by just fine with a stove system, but understand that many canister style stoves don’t work as well in cold temperatures so you may need to warm them up in your sleeping bag before using them.
Remember, it’s going to get dark earlier in the winter months, so you’ll need to account for that when packing light sources (e.g. bring extra batteries for headlamps and flashlights).
Finally, make sure you bring just as much sun protection in the winter as you would in the summer. Sun reflecting off of snow can cause a really bad burn (even inside your nostrils!), so make sure you bring plenty of sunblock, chapstick and sunglasses.