Just because the days and nights are getting colder doesn’t mean that you have to pack up your camping gear for the winter. In fact, camping in the cold can be even more enjoyable than warm-weather camping, as the forests fall into a peaceful winter silence.
But before you hit the trail to go on your next chilling adventure, here’s a checklist to go by for your first time enjoying the beautiful world of winter wonderland camping.
Location and Preparation:
If this is your first time cold weather camping, you’ll want to make sure to pick a destination that isn’t too far off the beaten path. Think something scenic, but still easily accessible. That way if things don’t go right, you can always bail out.
Some other things to consider when you’re picking your campsite is to make sure that location has firewood and a water source available. You may not want to build a fire, but it’s good to have the option, especially when the temperature starts to drop. With winter camping, it’s all about being prepared for the worst.
And speaking of the worst, make sure to check the weather forecast prior to leaving. You’ll want to know if it’s going to rain, snow, sleet, or ice so that you an plan accordingly.
First and foremost, wear layers. Even if you’re just going to be lounging around the campsite, with lower temps you’re going to want something to keep you warm, including hats and handwear. And if you’re planning on doing any additional activities, such as skiing, you’ll want to pack additional gear for that as well.
Footwear is especially important to consider. You’ll want something that’s warm and waterproof, and that fits comfortably. Make sure that they’re durable, and fit well with plenty of room for thick socks. Packing on multiple layers of socks and cramming them into your boot is going to be the instinct, but try to make sure to give your feet room to breathe. A tight fitting boot will cut off circulation instead of allowing for the foot to stay warm.
When you’re gathering your tent and sleeping bag, make sure that your bag will get you through the dropping temperatures at night.The same goes for your tent, however, any quality three-season tent should get you through the night, unless you’r expecting a lot of winter weather. In such cases you’ll need to plan according.
Don’t forget to pack a headlamp, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Even though you’re not going to be sitting out for a tan, if there’s any snow on the ground the reflection will still burn you.
Setting up Camp:
Before you start setting anything up, make sure to pack on your warm clothes. That’s going to lock in all the heat you generated while hiking into your campsite, and make setting up camp a whole lot easier.
If you’re not going to be camping in the snow, then you can go about your normal set-up routine. However, if there’s going to be snow on the ground, then you’ll want to take a different approach. First, you’ll want to pack the snow down until you’ve a platform of sorts. You can use your boots or a shovel to do this. Let it set up and get hard before you start pitching your tent.
Depending on how cold it is will determine where you’ll want to set up your cooking situation. Many people like to set up their cookware where it’s easily accessible from their sleeping bag so they don’t have to worry about leaving the warmth of their bag to make a cup of coffee in the morning. But this is based on personal preference more than anything else. Just keep in mind that if you do decide to go this route that your stove is outside of your tent and that you’ve allowed for plenty of ventilation. Nothing ruins a good camping experience than a burnt tent.
Once you’ve set everything up, go for a hike and enjoy the serenity that comes with the forests in the winter.
And, more than anything else, have fun!