Whoever said camping is only for the summer time has never experienced the excitement of winter camping. Camping in the winter is an entirely new, exhilarating experience that truly connects you with nature and it’s an awesome alternative to those expensive ski resort chalets. But since winter camping is nothing like camping in the summer, there are some things you need to know before packing up shop.
Layers, Layers and More Layers
While you can get away with packing a small suitcase when camping in the summer, the same can’t necessarily be said about winter camping. The clothing you pack plays a huge role in your overall comfort and experience. So, make sure you have plenty of warm layers of clothing to change into if your other clothes are cold and wet from the slopes.
Snowshoes and Boots
Anyone who has ever walked in snow knows just how important it is to have the right kind of boots. A good pair of waterproof winter boots with solid traction is sufficed but if you need to trek to your destination, consider packing in some pairs of snowshoes. Plus, snowshoes are fun to trek the snowy trails in even once you’re popped up shop.
You Need Fire
Camping in the summer is fairly easy in terms of making a fire. If it’s not rainy, you grab some twigs and sticks, light a match and voila. You have fire. However, winter camping can be a little more different when it comes to starting a fire and that fire is your main source of food and heat. So, you need to have all the fire-making materials you can think of – think wood, paper, extra matches, lighters, fire starter kits, etc. And you’ll want to know how to start a fire! Remember, a fire is your life source while winter camping. Those snowshoes will come in handy if you have to find your own wood!
Just Any Ole’ Sleeping Bag Won’t Do
If you’re a regular camper in the summer, you likely have plenty of camping gear including sleeping bags. While it’s tempting to cut some corners (and your budget) by bringing the sleeping bags you already have, if they aren’t rated for winter camping, you’re going to freeze. So, choose the right sleeping bag to ensure it’ll keep you warm at night when the temperatures drop to - 15 to -40 degrees Celsius.
Bring a Sleeping Pad
Sleeping on the ground, sans air mattress or padding might be okay for summer camping but if you’re camping in the winter, the cold that comes from the earth will keep you up all night. As such, it’s imperative to have a sleeping pad to lay on at night to ensure warmth, comfort and safety. You will lose a significant amount of heat while sleeping and need to have some layers in between you and the earth.
Don’t Forget a Shovel
In the summer, you don’t need much more than a tent to survive. However, winter camping requires a little more TLC when it comes to setting up your campsite. A shovel will allow you to easily clear a path to your tent site, dig a hole for your fire pit and pack down the snow for a solid surface.
Use a Winter Tent
There’s a common theme here – summer camping gear and winter camping gear are two completely opposite things. Your summer tent is not going to withstand the weather of the winter. So, it’s imperative to use a winter tent or at the very least, a four-season tent to ensure your warmth, comfort and safety.
Avoid Setting Up Under a Tree
Speaking of tents, it’s important to set up your camping area where there are no tree branches over top of you. If a snowstorm rolls in in the middle of the night, the weight of the snow can cause branches to crash down. So, be careful when selecting your winter campsite.
Be Wise About Your Eyewear
It’s easy to assume any sunglasses or snow goggles will do justice when camping in the winter but don’t be mistaken. The weather can go from sunny to cloudy to foggy, damp and blizzardy in minutes. So, it’s crucial to have proper eyewear for winter to ensure you'll be able to navigate the area safely.
Since the weather can change so quickly and so drastically during the winter, especially when on a mountaintop, we recommend photochromic lenses. These automatically adjust to the lighting around you. So, instead of packing several different sunglasses and snow goggles to suit whatever the weather brings in, photochromic lenses are all-in-one.
Have Plenty of Snacks
Lastly, you’ll want to have plenty of ready-to-eat snacks with you. Think beef jerky, granola bars, trail mix and peanut butter. That way, if the fire takes a while to get started, you can still keep your body fueled.
Camping in the winter is nothing like summer camping. It requires an extra amount of planning, prepping and setting up, special winter camping gear and much more. But it’s a fun experience that gets you out there in the white fluffy stuff! So, throw your snowshoes on, grab your photochromic snow goggles and start trekking to your tent site.