Must-Haves: Winter Camping

Winter-CampingAs shocking as some may find it to be, there are several outdoorsmen who find camping in the snow and cold temperatures during the winter months to be quite enjoyable. While it may not be as comfortable to some, winter camping can be fun, if you prepare ahead of time by packing a few essential items for the experience. Today, I’ve outlined these must-have pieces of gear for those of you considering making camp in the snow this winter.

The nights can get downright freezing in winter, so a warm sleeping bag is a must. Make sure to use a quality sleeping bag rated at or below the temperatures you’ll expect, though. When sizing a winter sleeping bag, I suggest considering roominess, as well. You don’t want it to be huge, but you’ll probably want to allow enough room for extra layers and even a stash of gear that you’ll want to keep warm, such as extra clothes, water bottles, and batteries. When choosing a material, keep in mind that synthetics perform better in wet environments, while natural down is ideal for dry winter weather.

While a reliable sleeping bag will be a great friend, your first line of defense against the frigid winter nights will be your tent. Most people use four season, or “expedition,” tents for winter camping, due to the fact, compared to summer tents, they have much less ventilating mesh. Expedition tents also tend to feature extra guy-lines, stronger poles, and sturdier fabrics designed to withstand extreme winds.

Now, you still need to stay warm when you’re not sleeping, so a warm coat will be in order. Choose a coat that’s large enough to fit over all of your other layers whenever you stop moving or are doing small things around the campsite. As with sleeping bag material, take the climate conditions into consideration when choosing an insulation material, too.

Also, a solid camp stove is a great way to cook food, melt snow for water, and brew hot drinks—all of which are crucial for staying warm in the winter. When picking a winter stove, choose one with a high output. Furthermore, pressurized fuel has trouble staying gaseous in the cold, so a stove that uses liquid fuel, such as white gas, will be more reliable.

Since winter gear—sleeping bags, blankets, etc—tends to be bulkier, it’s a good idea to have a large backpack in which to carry it all. Also, it’s smart to keep an insulated cover for your water bottle—aka, a koozie—on hand to keep your drinks warm. You’d be surprised at how difficult it can be to keep liquids warm during winter.

In the winter, the nights arrive earlier and last a little longer, so having enough light at your disposal for visibility while you make camp, prepare meals, and work around the campsite is vital. A sturdy lantern, area light, and flashlight are important pieces of gear to bring with you, along with spare batteries for each, as the cold can drain batteries quicker.

I love hiking in the winter, and have camped several times during those treks, so I know how miserable and frustrating it can be when you don’t have the gear you need for such an endeavor. If you’re planning a winter camping trip, keep the items listed today in mind when you stock up for the trip. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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