Tips for Camping in the Snow
A Beginner’s Guide to the Joys of Winter Camping
Picture this: you’re huddled up in your sleeping bag, feeling toasty warm and well rested. The sun begins to rise and you rouse yourself from the warm comfort of your bag. Upon exiting your tent, you soak in the glorious silence—there’s no one else around, and this sparkling winter paradise feels like it’s entirely your own.
Camping isn’t as popular during the winter, and we think that’s a shame! Winter camping can be a complete blast and there are tons of reasons to try camping in the snow. It’s not nearly as difficult (or unpleasant) as it sounds, either. Here are some winter camping tips to get you started.
Invest in the proper winter camping equipment and gear
You might be able to get away with that 1990s-era Coleman tent during the summer months, but it probably won’t cut it once there’s snow on the ground. Consider investing in (or borrowing) a tent that’s designed to keep you comfortable when the temperature dip below freezing. As with any piece of gear, you’ll have tons of options and price points to choose from.
You’ll also want a quality, insulated sleeping pad to keep you from shivering. You lose a lot of body heat to the frozen ground, so you’ll want a pad with a r value of four or more. If you already have a foam pad it doesn’t hurt to throw that into the mix. A yoga mat is another useful alternative. If you’re still feeling chilly you can place extra clothing underneath you and a down jacket over your sleeping bag.
And, when it comes to clothing, invest in pieces that are appropriate for the activities you want to do. Car camping requires different gear than backcountry winter camping, for example.
Before pitching your tent, pack the snow down
Once you’ve found your campsite for the evening it’s time to get packin’. You want to set your tent up on hard, even ground to avoid tearing the floor when you hunker down for the night. Skis or snowshoes make this task a bit easier, but boots will also get the job done.
Bring more clothing than you think you’ll need
The first step to staying warm while winter camping is to dress in plenty of layers. If you feel yourself overheating remove layers quickly to avoid sweating too much.
It’s always a great idea to bring an extra hat and gloves, but you should also pack more warm clothes than you anticipate needing. If you winter camp often enough you’ll eventually get your packing list down to an exact science, but err on the side of caution when you’re starting out.
Bring enough fuel for yourself and your camp stove
You’ll burn calories faster in the cold, so pack plenty of nourishing food for your camping trip. Extra fuel for your stove is another necessity. Ideally, you’ll be camping near a flowing water source, which will help you avoid the hassle of boiling snow for drinking water. If that’s not possible then bring approximately three times more fuel for your camp stove than you would for summer camping.
Prepare for lots of tent time
Depending on the outside temps, you’ll probably be spending a good chunk of time hanging out inside of your tent. Pack plenty of activities to keep you and your camping companions busy. Books, cards, and other games are fun ways to pass the time while staying warm and cozy.
Alternatively, just slow down and enjoy the silence of winter. Chances are the same campsite you’re at in February will be teeming with activity in July, so enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts. And if you want more winter camping hacks, this list should give you plenty of ideas