One of my favorite things about camping in winter is having the trail all to yourself. Fresh snow on the trails, new wildlife encounters, and crisp weather make winter camping a fun and different experience than 3-season camping. For a variety of reasons, once winter comes many hikers hang up their gear for a few months. But just like with 3-season camping, winter camping just takes the proper planning and preparation. After taking a few trips to learn the ropes, you’ll fall in love with camping in the winter in no time. Below are 14 tips to help make your next winter camping trip a little more enjoyable:
1. Everyday, change into your damp clothes before heading out for your daytime travels. You’ll be thankful when to have dry clothes to change into when back at camp. And when you head off to bed, place the damp clothes in your sleeping bag at night to help them dry out. They may not be completely dry in the morning, but it’s a better alternative than putting on cold and wet clothes the next day.
2. To help prevent your socks and gloves from absorbing sweat during the day, wear powder free exam gloves under your gloves and freezer bags under your socks. Your hands and feet will sweat less and they’ll be much drier and warmer at the end of the day.
3. Pack extra a hat and gloves so you have a warm and dry set to wear to bed or in the morning.
4. If your boots have liners, sleep with them so they keep warm. If your boots don’t have removable liners, put the boots in plastic bags or stuff sacks and place them at the bottom of your sleeping bag. Boots that are kept outside at night could end up frozen by morning.
5. To securely stake out your tent, make a deadman out of branches, sticks, or trekking poles. Just don’t use your shovel, you’ll need that to dig out the deadman set-up in the morning.
6. If there’s enough snow, dig a hole in your tent’s vestibule area to create additional space to store your gear. It also makes for a nice little place to sit.
Kitchen & Food
7. While waiting for snow to melt into drinking water or dinner to fully cook, dig out some snow to create a makeshift kitchen area. It’ll give you a nice cooking area and allows for people to sit together and eat or have a hot drink before bed.
8. Bring a backup stove. Canister stoves can fail in cold weather and white gas stoves can clog if they haven’t been properly maintained throughout the trip.
9. When walking around during the day, keep water bottles in insulated cozies so they don’t freeze up.
10. Carry snacks in easily accessible pockets during the day so you don’t have to stop to dig out a snack and risk getting cold.
11. In all your battery operated gear, replace the alkaline batteries with lithium ones. Lithium will last much longer than alkaline batteries in colder temperatures.
12. If it isn’t snowing during the day, turn your sleeping bag inside out and place it on top of your tent so the bag will have a chance to dry incase it got damp during the night.
Odds & Ends
13. Bring a spare bottle to pee in so you don’t have to leave your tent on really cold nights. But, be very very careful that the pee bottle is clearly marked so you don’t mistake it for a regular water bottle. A pee bottle that’s a completely different size, shape and color than the water is a good start.
14. Fill a water bottle with hot water and place it in your sleeping bag at night. It’ll help to keep warm and there will be water ready to drink in the morning.
These 14 tips are just the start to ensure you have a safe and fun winter camping trip. Don't let the cold temperatures and snow keep you from enjoying camping in the winter. With just a little more preparation and planning, winter camping and be just as fun, if not more fun than 3-season camping.