Whether you’re planning a week-long trip or a shorter outing, you’ll need the right equipment and personal gear if you’re planning to camp during winter. A forest, mountain, or hillside covered in snow is an enchanting sight, but if you’re not careful, trekking down ice-covered paths and lounging around in subzero temperatures can quickly turn dangerous. To keep you and your fellow campers safe, here’s a list of essentials you’ll need for cold weather camping.
An Insulated Tent
Your tent is designed to protect you from the elements, which, can be extreme in winter. Along with subzero temperatures, winter storms bring high winds, heavy precipitation, and the occasional hail. Your tent needs to be able to withstand all of it. A four-season tent is made for ski and snowshoe camping, along with other situations where snow, wind, and cold are possible. For added insulation, you might want to bring a cold-weather sleeping bag and an insulated sleeping pad with you.
Another option for winter camping is to build a snow shelter. When properly constructed, a shelter made from snow should be warm and protective. If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping in an igloo, now’s the time. Even if you plan to build a shelter, bring along a tent as a precaution. Shelters can take hours to make, and a lot of practice to perfect.
Fire and Light
Another essential you’ll need for cold weather camping is a form of heat and reliable illumination. When it’s cold, we love to gather by heaters and fireplaces. The same principle applies in camping, but instead of a fireplace, you’ll be sitting around a warm fire. A fire doesn’t just keep you warm—it also gives you a place to cook your meals, and a source of light during the evenings and nights. To start a fire, you’ll need matches and some tinder, kindling, and logs—all forms of wood. For cooking food, you’ll want a stove, stove platform, and fuel. These handy supplies will make cooking a whole lot easier.
When it comes to light, a fire is great, but it’s not exactly portable, and it might not provide you with the amount of depth you’ll need to see far in the distance. A headlamp or a portable everyday carry (EDC) flashlight is a lifesaver when it comes to camping. It’s best to pack not just one, but two, along with extra batteries in case of an emergency. Batteries tend to wear out faster in winter, so don’t forget the spares!
The Right Clothes
Bringing along the right kind of supplies is essential. In the rush to get everything packed, it’s easy to forget about another must-have item for winter camping: insulated, weather-appropriate attire. If you’re dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, not even your four-season tent and a burning fire will be able to save you from the cold. For cold-weather camping, you’ll want to have a hardshell jacket, hardshell or softshell pants, base layers, a mid-layer, gloves, a hat, warm socks, sunglasses or goggles, and good sturdy hiking boots, amongst other things. Whatever you’re wearing, make sure that it’s comfortable, warm, and easy to move around in.