Imagine waking up in your zero degree sleeping bag and smelling the crisp, cold morning air.
It’s not just the temperature that makes cold weather camping different than camping the rest of the year—it’s the whole experience. The whole environment transforms into something completely new. Time seems slower and nature seems still.
In addition to this, it’s much less busy to camp in cold weather and your camping experience will be much quieter.
A few essentials for camping in cold weather will make your camping trip comfortable and cozy.
Cold Weather Clothing
For cold weather camping, you’ll want to dress in layers to adjust to the temperature. Try on your clothes as you are packing to make sure you can easily layer.
Here are a few items you’ll want to pack for your camping trip:
- Base layers (anything SmartWool will be wonderfully toasty)
- Long sleeve shirts and pullovers
- A cold weather jacket
- Rain jacket/wind breaker (preferably one that can go over your cold weather jacket, if it is not waterproof)
- Warm gloves
- A warm hat or beanie
- Wool socks
Having at least one wool layer, whether that be a base layer, pullover, or sweater, is a huge asset in cold weather. Plus, wool socks are my number 1 go to for camping trips, in all weather conditions. Wool items are perfect for camping trips because they are super warm and don’t hold smells like other clothes.
If you will be in really cold temperatures, you may want to consider some products from the Temp360 line, featuring battery heated clothing.
Cold Weather Hiking Boots
The shoes you choose to bring on a cold weather camping trip are very important. You can wear running or athletic shoes at other times in the year, but the breathability of these shoes make them not so great for cold weather.
Hiking boots will be your best bet for this type of camping trip, specifically ones that are waterproof. Break in your hiking boots before heading out on your camping trip. You don’t want to find out mid trail that your shoes rub your feet the wrong way and give your blisters.
If you’re car camping, you’ll a have good amount of insulation from the cold at night (just make sure to cover the car windows for protection and insulation). However, if you’re tent camping, you’ll want to make sure that your tent selection will fit your needs.
Choose a tent that can handle all weather conditions, including rain and wind. For winter camping, look for a tent with some type of insulation if possible. Otherwise you’ll want to spend all your time in your sleeping bag.
Sleeping Bag and Accessories
Check the temperature of where you’ll be going and choose a sleeping bag accordingly. I use a 40 degree sleeping bag and it has been plenty warm enough for car camping in 30 degree weather, but I also have two blankets on top (and sometimes two layers of pajamas!).
Always bring more layers and blankets than you think you’ll need. You don’t want to be unprepared while camping in cold weather. You can also buy a liner to go inside your sleeping bag. I use a sheet to add an extra layer and keep my sleeping bag clean.
You may also want to consider a sleeping bag pad for tent camping. This will keep your sleeping bag dry and off the ground.
Hand warmers are essentials to keep around on cold weather camping trips. They are easy to pack and provide warmth for an extended period of time. You can buy disposable hand warmers in packs and you can also buy a rechargeable version. I keep both in my car on camping trips. The rechargeable version can also charge phones and small devices.
Other Essentials for Camping in Cold Weather
In addition to the items mentioned above, I always keep these items on hand when I’m cold weather camping:
- Waterproof matches
- Dry bags
- First aid kit
- Emergency blanket
- Plenty of food and snacks
- Water and water bottle
- Sun protection (a necessity even in the winter!)
- External battery to charge devices (even if you’re going off the grid you may need it in an emergency)
- Map for the area I’m traveling to
- A personal alarm/pepper spray
You can find all of these items and more in the camping section of the Gander website. I just saved you so much shopping time!
Now you’re prepared with your essentials for camping in cold weather! You know what clothes to pack and all the information you need to stay warm and dry in cold weather conditions. Enjoy your camping trip and sleep soundly in your temperature appropriate sleeping bag!