Going on a camping spree in a barren, freezing environment may feel too extreme to some, but with extra provisions and preparation, winter camping is a thrilling escapade for those with the right skills and knowledge. It’s also a great bonding activity that can get friends and family members engaged in the beautiful outdoors in all seasons.
The key to winter camping is preparedness. Beginners who intend to spend a night or two sleeping in a tent in February should plan well.
If you’re planning a winter camping excursion, here are some things to keep in mind while making the arrangements:
1. Research, research, research. Even if you are a seasoned camper or have been skiing since you were a toddler, do not equate to camping in winter. It pays to equip yourself with the most essential gear out there: knowledge. Without the right information (on the campsite, weather conditions, winter survival tips, winter camping gear), it’ll be easy to miss out on a thing or two that can jeopardize your winter camping trip.
Look for reliable outdoor and adventure websites or forums which feature posts on camping, survival, hiking, hunting, and other adventurous outdoor activities. These sites offer essential bits of information from other explorers that can be used during your trip.
2. Make a packing list. Having a list saves you from forgetting items that are needed on the trip. Who doesn’t hate showing up to a camping site without a multitool or carabiners? Create a list of things that you need to keep warm, build shelter, make fire, cook food, and other vital areas of your winter trip.
3. Have enough warm clothing. Wool clothing traps heat and warmth, and is water-resistant - we love layering with wool in the winter, particularly on our feet and underneath our parkas. Make sure that you have clean and dry layers to sleep in - especially socks. It is important to earn what materials help you stay warm and comfortable.
4. Bring waterproof boots, plenty of socks, a cozy hat, and gloves or mittens. These will help you stay warm and dry during your trip. Be sure to wear boots that have soles with solid traction for the snowy and muddy trails you’re sure to come across.
5. Fire is essential in winter. In addition to your favorite method of fire starters, bring tinder and wood, if you’re expecting damp or wet conditions.
6. Grab bags tailored for winter camping. Check the tested lower limit of the sleeping bags, and know yourself. If you tend to be colder, bring a sleeping bag which has a lower limit 5 - 10 degrees lower than the weather you are expecting.
7. Plan meals that are easy to prepare. Stews, oatmeals, beans, and other food that can be prepared in one pot over the fire are ideal in winter months.
8. Pack a small shovel. Depending on the type of snow and the weather conditions, you may need to clear snow from your site, pack it down, or use it to build structures around your tent and fire. Also, be sure to shake loose any trees or branches loaded with snow.
9. Bring lighting equipment such as headlamps and lanterns - and plenty of batteries if they are battery-operated. Also, make sure to pack a first aid kit and emergency blankets that you can use just in case something happens. Get first aid packs that are lightweight and can be hung outside of your backpack.
Camping and hiking are not necessarily limited by snow and cold. With the right attitude, knowledge, and gear, you can experience your favorite summer activity in the coldest of seasons!