A winter camping outing gives you a whole new appreciation and perspective on the great outdoors. Plus, you don’t have to go deep into the backcountry to experience winter wonderland.
If you want to ease into winter camping, try sleeping in shelter that’s warmer than a tent such as an RV, cabin, or yurt. Often cabins and yurts have wood burning stoves to keep you toasty throughout the night while RVs have propane tanks.
Some of advantages of winter camping over summer camping include: no bugs and no bears. But beyond the obvious, you still need to be smart and prepared for all sorts of inclement weather.
If you’re the type of person who believes there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices, then outdoor camping is for you. Choosing the appropriate clothing AND gear is a safety issue due to the extreme elements and terrain. So keep in mind these tips from the experts on winter camping:
- If new to the winter camping scene, don’t go too far away from home or too far off the trail. Go somewhere you’re familiar with or have been to before. Just keep in mind that everything looks different in the winter, so having some familiarity with a spot will make everyone feel more comfortable.
- Be sure to check on seasonal road and trailhead availability and parking before heading out. Check the weather forecast. Are conditions favorable? The NOAA-NWS Web site offers detailed backcountry forecasts. Make sure you’re not in an avalanche zone!
- Sleeping pads, a sleeping bag rated for cold weather, sleeping bag liner, trekking poles, a headlamp, fire starters, extra water, a sled, and a backpack, to name a few essential items.
- Dress in layers: a base layer, mid layer and outer layer. The first layer is breathable and wicks moisture away from the skin. The second layer is warm, such as a fleece and the outer layer consists of a hard-shell coat that’s wind and water resistant.
- To prevent your head from getting cold, a warm winter stocking cap is a must. Obviously, warm socks, long underwear, moisture wicking shirts, merino wool base layers, hand and foot warmers, and waterproof gloves/mittens are necessary, too. Cotton does not dry out very quickly, so wool or synthetic fabrics are better choices.
- Sunblock, extra batteries, goggles, and sunglasses.
- Don’t forget your camp chairs, games to play, and hot drinks in travel thermoses.
All of the clothing options are important because of the possibility of hypothermia, a serious condition that happens when the body’s core temperature dips too low due to exposure to cold. Symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, and lethargy. Staying in dry clothes and drinking warming liquids such as tea and soup are solid prevention methods.
Good preparation goes a long way in experiencing a comfortable camping trip. Any wilderness adventure can bring unexpected turns, especially because mother nature can be pretty unpredictable. Bring a good attitude and enjoy the beauty and peacefulness that only a winter camping trip can provide. Who knows, you might be ready to leap into winter tent camping next.