If you're going to pitch a tent or car camp in the winter, it’s important to take some extra steps to make sure you’re prepared for the cold weather. And if you're fully prepared, it can be a really amazing experience.
Here are ten basic tips to start planning a safe and fun winter camping experience.
1. Check the Weather
Always do your research ahead of time and check the forecast for the area you’re visiting. Pay special attention to the overnight lows and be prepared for the extremes.
2. Prepare Your Tent Site
Clear away snow to expose the dirt, then flatten the site with your tools or boots. This will help reduce ambient space and potential heat loss.
3. Invest in Quality Cold-Weather Gear
It's best not to con't cut corners here. It doesn't have to be a trendy brand name, but it is important to have the right gear to stay safe and warm in the cold. Choose a sleeping bag with an appropriate lower-limit temperature rating, as well as a closed-cell foam sleeping pad.
4. Dress in Layers
Layering is key to keeping your core warm. Choose a base layer, mid-layer, puffer or down layer, and a solid shell to stay warm and cozy.
5. Pack Essential Winter Camping Equipment
In addition to the right clothing, you should also bring the right equipment to ensure your comfort and safety. This includes a 4-season tent, stove, fuel, extra blankets, and a first-aid kit. Again, not a great idea to cut corners here - be sure to double-check that your equipment is functioning properly and is rated for cold weather conditions. Checking the reviews and other people's experience with the gear is always a good idea as well.
6. Winterize Your RV or Camper
If you are winter camping in an RV, pop-up camper, or trailer, make sure to winterize your camper. Freezing water lines are the biggest concern with recreational vehicles. Consult your user manual for winter RV tips specific to your model.
7. Warm Your Sleeping Bag Before Going to Bed
A cold sleeping bag can take some time to warm up with just your body heat, so pre-warming your bag is a nice way to get cozy at night. Boil water and put it in a watertight container like a hot water bottle. Let the water cool down a little and then double-check that the container is completely sealed. Place the hot water container in your sleeping bag at least minutes before going to bed to let things warm.
8. Bring Plenty of Firewood
You might assume that you'll find some on site, but it can be really challenging to find firewood on the ground in the winter. Bring enough firewood to last the duration of your trip and don’t forget the matches in a moisture-proof container.
9. Prepare Hearty Meals
While sandwiches and melons are great for summer camping, cold weather requires a heartier meal. Canned soups or stews are great for lunches. And don’t forget to bring plenty of your favorite hot beverages: hot chocolate, coffee, tea, or apple cider. And of course, make sure you've got the proper tools to prepare your food.
10. Pack a Book: The nights are longer in winter, so it’s nice to have entertainment at night. Bring a book to read while in your sleeping bag, or if you are car camping, bring a computer or iPad and watch a movie. This will help pass the time and keep you from going to bed too early.
Bonus tip: Let someone know where you're going and how long you're planning to be gone. This is pretty standard advice for any outdoor adventure, but when you're out in harsher conditions, it's even more important.
Are you planning some camping this winter? Let us know in the comments, or on over on Instagram!