Winter is coming. But this doesn’t mean you have to pack away your tent.
Camping in the winter can be a turn off for many people. The typical camping experience includes sunshine by day, and mild temperatures and a toasty campfire by night. There is a lot less shivering here. However, just because temperatures are dropping does not mean you have to surrender your camping dreams for the season. With careful strategy and planning, camping in cold weather is entirely feasible. If you are prepared, then this experience can be just as fun as summer and fall camping trips.
Here are six things that you need to know before you go camping in cold weather.
1. Make sure you have the right seasonal gear.
Unfortunately, if you are heading outdoors to sleep in the snow, your sleeping bag from Walmart is not the best choice. While cheap gear is tolerable in mild temperatures, it can actually risk your life as the degrees drop dangerously low. Things like a tent ground cover and weather appropriate sleeping bag are essential parts of your packing list. You can specifically purchase sleeping bags designed for cold weather. Most brands offer an idea of which temperatures their sleeping bag is designed for. Give your camping gear a good look through before you head out for that outdoor excursion. If you want to save some money, try purchasing cold weather camping gear during the summer months when it typically goes on sale.
2. Keep up with your food and water intake.
On any camping or hiking excursion, a healthy food intake is essential, and this is even more so when camping in cold weather. Pack plenty of snacks rich in fats, protein, and carbohydrates to keep your energy up. These snacks work great during the day for a light breakfast and lunch. Bring several easy meal options to cook for dinner. Eating hot meals in cold temperatures is ideal, and simple food prep makes for a stress-free cooking experience. Be sure to keep plenty of water handy and regularly drink enough throughout the days. You can always boil some snow for a quick way to get fresh drinking water.
3. Utilize tent heating options.
If you are camping in cold weather, you should consider purchasing a four season tent. Compared to the traditional three season tents, the four season option offers a sturdier structure and include greater waterproofing. These tents are specifically designed with their material to retain heat with and do not have mesh openings like three season tents. It is also smart to bring along some useful tent and sleeping bag heating options. Things like hand and feet warmers, and a hot water bottle are perfect for keeping your bed cozy. For a comprehensive list on various tent heating ideas, check out these five clever hacks on how to stay warm in a tent.
4. Make sure you have the right clothing.
As you trek outdoors into some snowy backcountry terrain, your light down jacket is not going to do the trick. It is important to plan what you are going to wear long before you even begin the camping trip. The key here is to dress in layers. If you anticipate a longer hike, then you probably don’t want to wear every single layer at once. But of course, once camp is set up and evening falls, a few extra pieces of clothing are essential. The base layer of your clothes should be moisture wicking, to accommodate any physical activity. Next, add something insulating to the middle layer, preferably made of wool, down, or fleece. The outside layer of clothing should be another water and wind resistant jacket.
Another thing to remember when camping in cold weather is always pack a spare hat and pair of gloves. With everything going on, it is all too easy to lose a mitten or misplace a hat. These items can also get wet, which doesn’t help you with trying to stay warm. No matter what, it is smart to keep some backup clothing items handy, just in case.
5. Use the snow to your advantage.
If you are camping in especially snowy terrain, this doesn’t have to be a nuisance. Besides looking simply beautiful, snow can actually be used to your benefit. When cooking, you can melt snow to use as water. This method is ideal to generate clean drinking water as well as boiled water for meals. You can also make some good old fashioned cowboy coffee using snow. Simply melt some snow in a pot over the fire. Then, bring it to a boil and pour over some fresh coffee grounds.
With copious amounts of snow, there is also plenty of room for creativity. Once you finish making that igloo and bringing Frosty the Snowman back to life, you can mold your perfect campsite. Snow piles are ideal for creating a quaint “kitchen space” within your camp. You can also build some nice seating as you settle in for the evening. Also, remember to pack the snow down firmly when setting up your tent. Keep in mind that loose snow under the tent is a recipe for increased moisture getting trapped inside.
6. Take advantage of some sleeping mat and sleeping bag hacks.
Nighttime is perhaps when camping in cold weather gets the most precarious. Hypothermia and frostbite are legitimate risks and should be taken seriously as such. If you implement some careful planning when it comes to your bedtime set-up, this lessens the risk of an unfortunate frigid encounter. Even a few degrees make a difference when sleeping outside in the middle of winter. When camping in cold weather, the more layers between you and the frozen ground, the better. Utilize a sleeping mat or two as an added cushion and protection while you sleep. Use one inflated and one uninflated mat in extremely cold environments. If the weather conditions allow, also turn your sleeping bag inside out and lay it on top of your tent. The sunshine helps to dry it out to avoid excess moisture build up inside.
Apply these six helpful tips as you embark outdoors for camping in cold weather.
Camping in cold weather is an exciting experience. Let yourself enjoy the rich winter landscapes and breathe in that cooler air. If you prepare carefully, you can ensure your utmost safety as you explore the great outdoors. Do your research, plan extensively, and always bring more supplies than you think you’ll need. In this particular case, it is okay to pack too much. Learning these six things you need to know before camping in cold weather is an excellent start to a safe and exciting adventure.
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