How to Prep for Winter Camping, Part One

hCamping during the winter months is a bit different than camping during the warmer seasons of the year. When it comes to winter camping, most of your work will involve staying warm and staying safe. For most people, this means everything from their tent to their boots will need an upgrade to handle the snow and the cold. Today we’ll take a look at a few tips to help you prepare for any camping trips you may have planned this winter.

Be smart and simple with your food.

With winter trail meals, stick with foods that can be consolidated into one pot, but also those that provide a ton of energy—carbs. The carbs will provide the necessary energy for hiking several hours and they’ll keep your body warm, as well. I’d also pack extra fuel for your stove if you have one, as you’ll probably need more on winter trips than what you’re used to using during other seasons. Speaking of stoves, I know it’s tempting to cook inside your tent, where it’s warmer, but doing so poses a major fire risk, so do your cooking outside.

One of the biggest mistakes people make while camping in the winter is not drinking enough water, mainly due to the fact that the colder temperatures make drinking cold liquids unappealing. However, your body will suffer if you’re not getting enough water, no matter the temperature. You’ll need to take measures to keep your water from freezing, though, and you can do this by placing water bottles in the middle of your backpack or using an insulated bottle or bottle cover, such as a neoprene sleeve or even a thick sock.

If you can help it, don’t go alone.

This may be basic advice for many of you, but it carries much more weight during cold winter months, when the terrain and reach new levels of extreme. Even the most experienced outdoorsman should try to take along friend on winter camping trips, as accidents—avalanches, for instance—can happen without notice. Also, make sure to pack a cell phone, solar charger, a high-quality GPS, and a personal locator beacon.

Like ogres and onions, think in layers.

During winter, not packing appropriate clothing can have serious consequences, especially when temperatures fluctuate so crazily throughout the day. Layers will be crucial. For a baselayer, try to avoid cottons and instead, go with synthetic or wool fabrics that will keep moisture out. Your middle layer, which will serve as insulation, should be fleece or micro-fleece to keep the heat in close. For an outer layer, try to find a shell that’s water and windproof. Finally, pack extras of piece of clothing, too; you never know when you might need to change out of wet clothing and you’ll be thankful to have spares on hand.

If you’re a fan of the snow and cold, then winter camping may be right up your alley. Keep the tips above in mind and you’ll be well on your way to being fully prepared for the frigid endeavor. Also, be sure to return later this week for some tips on how to upgrade your gear for camping during the winter.