Winter Camping — Winter camping isn’t just for boy scouts. If you are prepared, camping in the cold can be relaxing and uniquely fun.
For most areas, winter camping will be quite similar to a regular camping trip except with a few important additions to your camping gear.
Avoid hypothermia by staying dry. Wear a synthetic layer next to the skin to help wick away excess moisture. If you’ll be in the snow or bitter cold, wear insulated, waterproof boots, multiple thin, light layers and a water repellant outer shell for your jacket and pants. Warm, heat-trapping hats and gloves are a must.
Normally, your body can endure very low temperatures—if you’re dry. In the summer, sweat helps release excess heat from your body. In the winter, being wet will drain your body heat faster than you can produce it.
“Just add water” meals are the most convenient and may be the only thing you can realistically prepare when surrounded by heavy snow. Load up on high-energy meals and snacks to help your body stay warm. Before you go, double check the label to see if your cooking stove can handle the cold temperatures.
Try to plan your trip without relying on fire. A fire is great if you have to warm someone up, but you’ll have more freedom if you don’t need to rely on one for cooking or staying warm.
Drink water. Pay attention to how thirsty you are. Keep water from freezing by keeping it from getting cold like in an insulated jug. You may actually prefer drinking room temperature water when it’s cold.
A three-season tent may suffice if the temperature is above freezing, but for temperatures below freezing you’ll probably need a real four-season tent.
If you have at least a foot of snow a snow cave will be a comfortable but laborious option. See our popular guide on snow shelters for more information.
Make sure you will be in a sleeping bag that is rated for temperatures below what the weather report predicts. You can help yourself stay warm at night by loading up on calories before you go to bed because they will melt away quickly when you are sleeping in cold temperatures.
Check the weather and make sure the area you are going is open, has access and your vehicle is suited to the journey. Make sure friends or family know exactly where you are and have a Plan B in case things go south with the geese.
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