Winter Camping Guide

Written by Teresa Harrington on January 03, 2018

As fall transitions into winter, most campers decide that it’s the perfect time of year to pack away their gear and take a break from camping until the warmer weather arrives. But with careful planning, there’s really no reason that you have to miss out on all the wonders of nature during the winter. Typically crowded camping spots and trails are much more likely to be untouched by other travellers and instead coated with fresh snow! If the beauty and peacefulness of winter camping sounds like a grand idea to you, then our detailed winter camping guide is just what you need to prepare for your first big camping trip in the snow.

Pre-Trip Planning

Planning is an essential part of any successful camping trip. But preparing for winter camping is extra important to ensure that you stay safe, warm and comfortable on your trip. You’ll need to plan ahead for the possibility of severe weather, shorter days and the need for extra gear. Before heading out into the great wide open, be sure to create a workable camping plan that includes some of these helpful tips:

  • Check the weather! Are you heading out into favorable conditions? If not, try again another day. It’s also important to check local road and trail conditions before you set off.
  • Don’t go camping on your own. Always go with a friend or 2 who has some experience with outdoor adventuring during the winter months.
  • Do plenty of research by studying maps and getting to know the area where you’ll be camping. Get a clear idea of where you’ll be setting up camp, how long the setup will take and where the closest emergency services are located.
  • Create a trip plan and share it with someone who is staying behind. Be sure to include details of where you’re going, when you’ll get there, what time you expect to return, your vehicle information and contact info for everyone in your camping party.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Carry extra food, cash, water and clothing with you just in case the weather changes and your trip takes longer than expected. Creating a solid winter camping checklist will help to ensure you’re ready for anything that nature can throw at you.
  • Avoid local avalanche areas and check the avalanche forecast. If the forecast is high, delay your trip.

Invest in Proper Winter Camping Gear

Another simple rule of winter camping is to keep yourself dry and warm. Choosing the right clothing to take with you on your trip is extremely important, so be sure to look for items that can easily be layered and are designed to wick away moisture. Clothing should also be waterproof whenever possible, insulate and dry quickly.

  1. It is important to have a good base layer (underwear/long underwear) next to your skin. Avoid cotton and instead, go with synthetic or merino wool fabrics that will wick away moisture from your skin and dry quickly.
  2. Your middle layer of clothing should act as the insulating layer and feature materials that will help your body retain heat. Micro-fleece or expedition-weight fleece pants, shirts and jackets are ideal.
  3. Your outer layer should work as a windproof, waterproof and breathable outer shell. There are a variety of different materials available that provide different levels of waterproofing and breathability including Gore-Tex, eVent and polyurethane-coated fabrics.
  4. Snow camping and hiking will be much easier with a good pair of winter or mountaineering boots on your feet.

Setting Up Camp

Once you’ve reached your destination, take the time to find the ideal camping spot and set up camp. Some common considerations when choosing your winter campsite include:

  • Can you find natural wind protection?
  • Is the spot near a good water source?
  • Are there any avalanche dangers?
  • Are you safe from falling branches and trees?
  • Can you see any landmarks that may be useful in the dark or during a snowstorm?

With a few expert tips, winter camping can be a fun and memorable activity for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

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