What You Need to Know About Winter Camping

Ray Cahoy
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Don’t make the trip alone:

This is a big concern that many of your friends and family members will have when you mention that you’re taking a road trip during the long, cold winter nights.

You will be much more comfortable if you take a friend along for the trip. Of course, you could always talk to your camping buddies beforehand and see if they have an extra spot or two left in their car if it’s your friends that you’re concerned with.

If you can’t find a friend to go with you, consider other options. You could look into taking a winter RV trip instead of traveling in a car. This way, the vehicle is already built for the colder temperatures and you won’t be as susceptible to running into car troubles.

Or you could take the bus, get a friend to pick you up and borrow their car, or rent a car when you get to your destination. There are plenty of options out there.

Or, if you don’t care to spend extra money on travel and car rentals, you could always request to change your vacation dates to something less extreme. Any warm weather destination in January or February is much less prone to cold and snow.

Scope out the area:

Before leaving for your winter camping adventure, you’ll want to check the weather and plan a route ahead of time.

It’s important to pick the right temperature for your camping trip. It’s not always fun to enjoy nature when you’re freezing your butt off. The freezing temperatures can also damage your personal property. This is why you’ll want to decide what to take with you to keep you warm or cool enough.

If it’s going to be a cold trip, you’ll want to put together a gear list to ensure you’re ready for anything that might come your way. If it’s a mild trip, you can plan to use an RV rather than a tent.

Once you’ve made plans for your winter camping trip, you’ll want to scope out the area.

Be sure there is a source of fire wood, a bucket to carry water, a good place to bathe, and a place to dispose of waste upon your arrival.

Research on the region:

Winter camping is an amazing experience that can be quite relaxing and spiritual for people who enjoy what nature has to offer. Many groups like college students, church groups, and camping clubs, participate in winter camping.

There are a lot of fun things to do during winter, but remember to always go prepared.

A few things you should do before heading out are:

Ï¢‚Å“Ask about the weather report.

Ï¢‚Å“Call your friends or family and tell them your plans.

Ï¢‚Å“Make your winter gear list.

Ï¢‚Å“Make sure you have an out of the way retreat you can retreat to in case the weather is extreme.

Ï¢‚Å“Go out with some friends who have more experience with winter camping.

Ï¢‚Å“Always remember that you are responsible for yourself and that danger is always present in the winter. There are far fewer rescue services and ways to contact them.

Ï¢‚Å“Make sure you have emergency gear, including a shovel, emergency blankets, and warm clothes.

The most important part of winter camping is to stay warm. When winter camping, do not stay in one place for too long, because being still for long periods of time will make you cold.

Inform others of your trip:

Before you even start packing your bags, you need to contact someone to let them know that you’re going to be away. You might want to wait and complete your trip before you inform them, but it will save you lots of time and money if someone starts searching for you in the middle of winter.

In the case of an emergency, it’s important that your friends and family know where you are and how best to get in touch with you. Your preferred plan should involve informing someone that it’s ok to call you, even in the middle of the night.

Check on the weather forecast:

The first thing that you must do is to check the weather forecast – this is the most important thing to do before you head out into the woods.

Make sure you have proper insulation for the temperatures that you’ll be encountering. It may seem like a good idea to go for a camping trip when the temperature is warm, but that can be a bad idea. In fact, a warm night can be deadly for a person who doesn’t have proper insulation. Without a sleeping bag rated for temperatures below freezing, you could end up with a case of hypothermia.

Coyotes are also a greater risk during the night when the temperatures are lower – they don’t like the cold temperatures as much as you do and will be out looking for food.


Winters camping the key to winter camping is being prepared and bringing a good tent and clothing. It’s important to wear layers of warm clothing and bring along a heavy coat that can lock in your body heat. You want to keep the rubber and plastic out of your clothes and you need to be sure to waterproof your boots before you set out for your trip. It’s a good idea to carry a lightweight pair of gloves as your hands will get cold very easily.

Step 1: Pick your spot Pick a area that’s flat and clear of underbrush, tent, snow and sights. There are several things to consider including the weather, the sun’s position, safety and convenience. Make sure you pick a spot well away from campers or hikers before you set up your tent. The last thing you need is to scare them off, or have them think that you’re an intruder.

Winter gadgets and gear

Winter camping means you could be in for some cold weather and rough conditions. This in turn means you need to invest in some reliable gear. As you’re planning, consider the types of weather you’re likely to face: the worst of it—s a good idea to plan for, more moderate conditions is something else you’ll likely have to take into account. You should also think about extremes. Not just what the weather conditions might be, but how you’re going to deal with them.

For example, what happens if you’re caught in an unexpected summer thunderstorm in the middle of a hike in summer? Similarly, how are you going to deal with being caught in a mountain storm come winter?

Just remember, winter camping is not something to be taken lightly. It’s an entirely different kind of camping, one that requires more preparation and more stringent safety rules.

Winter Camping Tent:

What is the difference between the different types of tents? It all boils down to how they are used actually. Canvas tents are good for the winter if you are on a hunting trip. Classic dome tents are also stylish and make a great setting for backyard camping.

The Fly Creek HV UL 2 tent is lightweight and gives you a frame that is easy to set, whether you’re in good weather or bad. There are many amazing privacy tents out there. The challenge, all comes down to, knowing what to look for, there are a wide variety of features available these days that can make the search feel more daunting than it should be.

It is important to purchase your tent off the rack in order to be assured that you will get the best quality that is available. The problem with factory seconds is that they are tents that have technical difficulties. Most people who purchase these tents do not realize that these tents are not the same quality as the tents you pay full price for.

Several years ago, if you wanted a tent that had an outer layer on the rainfly, you had to purchase that specifically. These days, it seems to be standard equipment. This is a great feature, because that outer layer tends to stiffen the tent a bit. It helps the tent shed water better and it also serves as a physical barrier to block the wind.

Winter sleeping bag:

Do you need one?

All but the hardest core campers will want to consider getting a winter sleeping bag. If you camp in the north, this is a must have piece of gear since temperatures can drop to -25° degrees during the night.

Usually a winter bag will have a temperature rating of 30°F or lower which will be enough to keep you warm at night. There are also summer bags that only have a 10°F rating but these are never used in Northern regions since they don’t provide enough warmth.

Also, be aware that some bags that are rated for 25°F may be cooler than others that are rated for 20°F. Keep this in mind when you are shopping.

A great option for camping in warmer climates, on the other hand, is an insulated sleeping pad. You can get these in different qualities with the slightest difference in price, but it’s best to opt for the highest quality you can find. In these bags the insulation is placed inside the baffles which allows for the insulation on the inside and air circulation around on the outside. The outside air not only allows for a cooling effect but also helps to shed the moisture.

Most sleeping bags are designed to be used in conjunction with a sleeping pad. Some bags come with the pad included, but these sell for a higher price.

Backpack :

Length : For a backpack, when carrying weight, size matters. Get a pack that covers between 65-75% of the length of your torso. If you’re taller, consider sizing up for a longer pack that allows you to carry more of your gear.

For a backpack, when carrying weight, size matters. Get a pack that covers between 65-75% of the length of your torso. If you’re taller, consider sizing up for a longer pack that allows you to carry more of your gear. Width : A wider pack provides more stability and weight capacity. Preference usually comes down to feel and comfort.

A wider pack provides more stability and weight capacity. Preference usually comes down to feel and comfort. Padded waist straps : Stabilize the pack with generous waist support.

Stabilize the pack with generous waist support. Waist belt pockets : Have enough space for a days worth of snacks.

Have enough space for a days worth of snacks. Frame or suspension : Lightweight backpacking tents tend to have low weight models with minimal frame support. Expect heavier tents to have a higher weight capacity, stability, and durability.

Batteries and lighting:

Batteries lose strength as they get older, especially those that have been stored for a while. It also helps to remove them from electronics that aren’t being used. Don’t forget that most items use more than one battery.

For flashlights and lanterns, always carry several extra batteries. Since cold drains batteries faster, check them every day.

And battery-operated lights and appliances get fragile in the cold. If you use them outside, remember to protect them with a waterproof case. If you’re going to be gone for a few weeks, switch out your batteries to fresh ones just before you leave.

Every year at this time, it seems like the batteries in the toys that kids use start to go dead. Not to worry, you can turn a simple AA battery into a toy. Fill a 3-inch-long drink straw half-full of water. Seal one end with glue or tape. Push 1 AA battery into the open end of the straw. This becomes a toy gun powered by one battery.

Just remember that even if you try the best you can to protect batteries from cold, moisture, and dirt, they’re just part of life. Stuff happens. It’s good to have extras. And it’s good to know how to make a toy out of a battery.

Communication :

Make sure everyone in your group has a means to communicate in an emergency. Whether it’s a mobile phone, walkie talkie, like a two-way radio, or a satellite messenger, make sure everyone will be able to reach the others if needed.

Make sure everyone in your group has a means to communicate in an emergency. Whether it’s a mobile phone, walkie talkie, like a two-way radio, or a satellite messenger, make sure everyone will be able to reach the others if needed. Water and Food : Get water and food for the duration of your trip. Depending on the route you’re taking, you may have to carry water and food for a day or two. Make sure you know the length of your trip to calculate these necessities.

Maps and compass :

The trick is to keep in mind where you parked your vehicle, how to find your way back, and to carry a detailed map of the area around where you are going and marking on it where you park. Keep in mind that you will be walking back to the car, even if it is close, so make sure you have enough energy bars, nuts and such to get you there.

I once went on a winter camping trip with a group of friends. There were five adult men and several kids and we started to walk out from my friends cabin to find a cache of supplies we left there during the summer. After hiking for two hours we were close to the cache site when my son and a young friend ran past us to get to something I couldn’t see at the time. After 20 minutes, they came back in and announced that there was a sheep laying in the snow dead. After resting for 20 minutes, we finally arrived at the site. Not only was the sheep there but there was also a bear. It turns out that the sheep tried to get to the ground that the snow was melting rapidly. The sheep fell in the hole they made and died of exhaustion trying to get out. The bear found his way to the dead sheep and decided this was a free meal. We were seeing the bear as he was smelling the dead sheep and decided to have a regular Sunday meal.

Food and drinks :

Leave the alcohol at home. The rule is, “if it’s open, it will freeze.” This includes anything canned that isn’t absolutely packed with an anti-freeze spray or liquid. Too many people pack a bunch of alcohol and end up drinking way too much and way too fast, which can cause hypothermia.

Don’t forget a power converter. If you’ll be using any electrical equipment such as a laptop, cell phone charger or hair dryer, you’ll need a power converter.


Make sure you take along plenty of carbohydrates for a successful camping trip. In cold weather you need the extra energy to keep you warm and active.

While weight may be an issue when backpacking, you don’t have to limit your carbohydrate intake. It’s very satisfying to have warm hot meals and snacks, even if they are heavy.

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. They include starches and sugars (sucrose, fructose, lactose, and glucose). Some proteins are also converted to carbohydrates for energy.

Also, many of your body’s organs require carbohydrates as fuel. This includes your brain, nerves, muscles, and red blood cells. High-carbohydrate foods will provide both the energy and fiber that make your body an efficient machine.


Boon or Bane?

There is a never-ending debate about which is more harmful to the body – saturated fats or trans fats. According to a 2012 report by the American Heart Association, trans fats increase the levels of unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol and decrease the levels of healthy (HDL) cholesterol in the body. This in turn can lead to coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis, which may cause a heart attack.

On the other hand, saturated fats have been blamed for elevating the levels of “bad” or LDL cholesterol and decrease the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which also increase the risk of heart disease.

However, the controversies about the effects of fat on the body have been cleared out by a Finnish study which found that both saturated and trans fats affect the cholesterol levels in different ways.


Winter camping is much different than summer camping. Unlike the joys of a summer in the woods, a winter camping trip is more about survival.

In the middle of winter, it can be very difficult to find food and stay warm. Your winter camping diet must be well thought out beforehand to ensure that you have a good supply of proteins.

High protein foods, such as beans, save the day while in the middle of this kind of camping trip.

They not only hold you over until you can find something high in carbohydrates, but they also offer the necessary fuel to stay warm, give you energy to get through the day, and stave off hunger, which is the biggest threat to your winter camping trip.

Beans also come in so many varieties, which makes them easier to prepare.

There are dry beans, canned beans, soybeans—soy makes an excellent source of protein, especially considering that you’ll be heating with wood during the winter, which burns completely.

The most important thing to remember is to keep canned foods dry enough to be stored.

The easiest way to do this is to use a large Ziploc bag that is completely sealed and filled with the food you’ve already opened.


How Much Water Should You Drink a Day?

The average person needs to consume at least eight 8-ounce cups of fluid everyday (for a total of 64 ounces). You may assume that similar amounts apply to exercise, caused by adding a lot of sweat that brings on the need for high-water replacement. If you are a light exerciser, or if you exercise at a moderate or low intensity for a short time, then that may be the case. But when you exercise hard with challenging intensity for a long time, like in endurance or power sports, or when you exercise at high and very hot temperatures, as in humidity, you may need more than eight cups of water a day.

To know how much you should drink, begin by assessing your sweat production. To do this, weigh yourself this morning without having exercised or eaten anything. After you have exercised or after you have had your meal, weigh yourself again before you go to bed. Subtract the first weight from the second weight. The difference represents your weight after a dehydrating workout. Your fluid intake should be about one third of this difference.


As you can see they become more limited with the cold weather. While there might be more opportunities for backpacking, they may not open until late in the season. This doesn’t mean you can’t backpack, but you may have to make other plans.

The most accessible winter campgrounds in the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Northwest are found on or near major road networks. These were established to accommodate recreational visitors to the mountains for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. They are usually adjacent to the ski resorts near the summit of the pass in the winter and lower down in summer. They have toilets, running water and in some cases lodges, restaurants and camp stores.

Pick a location that’s easy to get to and know how long it will take to get out if the weather turns bad. Remember that winter storms are fast paced. Be ready before they hit the mountains in the early afternoon and have an alternate plan in case you need to get out after dark.


The underlying cause of frostbite and most cold-related deaths.

During winter when temperatures drop dramatically, it becomes a risk to hike, ski or snowmobile without proper clothing.

Hypothermia doesn’t just happen to outdoor enthusiasts. In fact, most hypothermia cases occur indoors, due to health conditions or age.

What happens to you when your body temperature drops? At normal body temperature, your body is actively trying to heat itself. When a drop in temperature occurs, the heating mechanism breaks down and your brain takes over.

The first symptom is shivering. But this is a natural reaction. Your body is trying to heat itself with muscle activity and while shivering, the body has a higher metabolic rate, burning calories and producing body heat. So although it’s uncomfortable, shivering helps you stay warm.

But if shivering stops, the second symptom occurs, confusion. Confusion marked with disorientation is the main sign of hypothermia and a danger sign that you need to get inside.

The next two stages of hypothermia are drowsiness and unconsciousness. During this stage, the body’s heart and breathing rates slow, which is why it’s so important to check on someone who may be hypothermic as soon as possible.


From here, you just need to decide what you are really looking for. Then make a list, and choose which camp grounds are within reach and which ones are your favorites. Location will also determine the size of the campgrounds and if they will be full of other people or not.

Of course, researching and preparing beforehand will make you feel more prepared and confident. Looking at pictures and reading about things that you have never heard of will give you a good idea of what to expect when you get there. You can also prepare things that you don’t normally take as a part of your everyday routine.

Like I said before, you will always be able to find someone who has been to the campground you are going to and can give you tips on what to do and what not to do. Just remember that no matter what you prepare, you will still be traveling in the cold and you need to be ready for that.