Winter Camping Tips for Dealing with Cold Weather

Date Posted:23 July 2019 

9 Winter Camping Tips to Keep You Warm in Rough Weather

Camping in the winter might sound a bit extreme, but it can be a very enjoyable experience. Here you’ll see how to make this happen.

Even though it’s a less popular option, there are many advantages to winter camping. There are no annoying bugs (or at least not as many), and you can enjoy the peace and quiet that eludes camping during the high season.

Of course, there are many things to be wary of. If you don’t arm yourself with the right winter camping equipment, you expose yourself to all kinds of risks.

In addition, the rules of winter camping are different from all other forms of camping adventures. You’ll want to make sure to learn these rules so that you can maximise the excitement while eliminating all dangers.

If you need some guidance, here are the most important winter camping tips you’ll want to remember:


1. Bring the Right Winter Camping Gear

The best way to ensure an enjoyable winter camping experience is preparation. In essence, you can pretend that you’re packing for a backpacking adventure except with a focus on resilience and warmth.

Here are some of the main things needed:

  • Tent – It’s always best to play it safe and go with a 4-season tent. Even though a 3-season one might do the job in many parts of Australia, you don’t want to test your luck against heavy snowfall and rough winds. In addition, you should always go with a tent that’s rated for more people than your camping party. Have room for at least one additional person so that you can fit all your winter camping equipment.

  • Backpack – Since you’ll have to carry some bulky gear, go with a heavy-duty backpack. As a reference, you need at least a 65-litre backpack for 2-4 days of winter camping.

  • Sleeping bag – You need a specially-designed cold-weather bag, as a regular one won’t do. The best winter sleeping bags usually feature goose down, as this insulation offers great warmth without adding much to the overall weight. Another great option is synthetic insulation if you’re concerned about the cost.

  • Sleeping pad – A good sleeping pad should help you retain body heat instead of losing it to the cold ground. Self-inflating and foam pads are the most popular choices, and it works best if you use them in conjunction.

  • Backpacking stove – This is among the most important winter camping supplies, as cooking in cold weather can be exceptionally hard. Your safest bets are liquid-filled and canister stoves, so choose the type that works better for you.

Of course, these are only some of the winter camping essentials, and there are many more things you’ll need to bring. We’ll go through them in the next few tips.


2. Choose Your Clothes Carefully

Wearing the right clothes during your winter camping makes all the difference in the world. It’s not just about keeping warm but rather affects the weight you’ll have to carry, ease of movement, and various other factors.

The most important thing that you need to do is to manage your layers properly. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Base layer – When it comes to underwear, midweight long options are your safest bet. Lightweight might do the job in milder conditions, but below-zero temperatures require heavyweight underwear. As far as fabrics go, wool and polyester are best at keeping you dry and warm.

  2. Middle layer – This is the insulating layer that serves to retain your body heat. As such, you should go with thick or puffy clothes that feature heat-retaining materials. Again, down and polyester are among the best choices, but there are other options that you can go for.

  3. Outer (shell) layer – The outer layer needs to be completely weatherproof. Whether it’s snow, rain, or wind, it needs to ensure you stay dry underneath. Waterproof jacket and pants are essential to keeping moisture out of the middle layer. However, moisture can come from the inside as well, which is why the fabrics need to be breathable.

Aside from clothes, you need to find appropriate accessories to protect the extremities. These include:

  • Synthetic or wool hat

  • Insulated gloves

  • Goggles

  • Non-cotton socks


3. Safety First

When it comes to winter camping equipment, safety should always be your top priority. Having the right gear can make all the difference, sometimes between life and death in extreme situations.

Aside from the right tent and clothes, there are a few other items that you need to bring. These are crucial if you’re camping in potential avalanche terrain, as they can help both you and those around you.

Here’s what you need to bring:

  • Avalanche transceiver – This device emits a signal for other people with transceivers to pick up. They then use their devices to find the person buried in the snow. If you’ve never used one before, you should do some research to figure out how transceivers work.

  • Probe – This is a collapsible pole that features depth markings of various lengths. You use it by assembling the sections and probing the snow to find those buried in it.

  • Shovel – This is a given, as you’ll need a way of digging out of the snow. It’s especially important in the event of an avalanche as you can dig through the snow in time to save those in need.

As far as other safety tips go, the first thing you’ll want to do is check the local forecast for your campsite. It will help you anticipate the condition and check for any potential health hazards.

In addition, whenever you feel cold in your toes and fingers, it’s important that you warm them up as soon as possible to prevent frostbites. Cold weather can be quite deceiving, so you might not notice serious injuries before they take a toll on you.


4. Adapt to Your Surroundings

Setting up a tent is usually an easy job. Unless it’s a particularly complex model, it shouldn’t take too long. However, setting up a tent in the snow is a bit different. If you’re setting up a tent directly on snowy ground, here are the steps that you need to follow:

  1. Pack down the snow – This is to make sure that you can be comfortable in your tent. If the snow is loose, your body heat is likely to melt it or turn it to ice. Even the best tent floor might not keep a puddle of water out and ice can transfer cold a lot better than snow. Before you set up the tent, stomp the snow with your booths or skis to prevent this from happening.

  2. Build a snow wall – In a strong wind, snow can be your best ally. You can build a wall around your tent to block the wind, or you can dig a bit deeper before you set up your tent. This reduces wind impact and lets your tent receive enough ventilation since you won’t have to fully seal it.

  3. Set up the tent – This process varies according to the model, but you should know by know how yours works. If it’s a new tent, consult the user manual and practice setting it up first.

  4. Dig out the vestibule – If you need some extra space, you can create it by digging out a bench under your tent’s vestibule. This will also make getting in and out of the tent easier.

When building a tent, snow stakes can be the most important part of your winter camping equipment. Regular stakes won’t be of much help, so you can either use the snow-specific ones or fill stuff sacks with snow and bury them inside.



5. Master How to Make a Fire

This should be near the top of your winter camping checklist. You should never go camping in cold weather without bringing some fire starters. They’re generally quite affordable, so make sure to stock up on them before you embark on this adventure.

In addition, you’ll need paper, wood, and a lighter. And don’t forget to bring a spare lighter or two.

Another thing would be to bring enough wood. Since winter isn’t the most popular season for camping, some sites that provide wood might not offer this service, in which case you’ll find yourself on your own.


6. Don’t Let Moisture into Your Sleeping Bag

We’ve mentioned that you need to find a sleeping bag rated for the proper temperatures. However, there are more winter camping tips when it comes to sleeping warm.

First of all, you should use a sleeping bag liner if you don’t feel warm enough. This will provide an extra layer of protection against cold and prevent any potential moisture from entering the bag. But there’s another way for sneaky moisture to sneak in.

Many people forget about condensation, which is one of the top causes of moisture inside your sleeping bag. If you tuck your head inside the bag, your breath will condense in the enclosed space. This will make the inside of the bag damp and affects the effectiveness of its insulation. This moisture can freeze pretty quickly in the cold, which might not only wake you up but also present a health hazard.


7. Warm Your Body and the Bag Before Sleeping in It

A sleeping bag relies on your body temperature to warm you up. Before you decide to sleep, it will likely be quite cold and might take quite some time to trap your body heat for the necessary warmth.

The best way around this is to pre-warm the bag by pouring hot water into a watertight container and placing it inside the bag. In around 20 minutes or so, the bag should be warm enough inside for you to skip the initial shiver. This is why a watertight container is among the best winter camping gear you can bring.

In addition, eating a hot dinner before bed can go a long way. Try eating dinner immediately before you go to bed and you should have no trouble warming yourself up.



8. Go with Lithium Batteries

When it comes to flashlights and other electronic winter camping gear, having the right battery type can be crucial. In general, you’ll be best off with lithium batteries for their resilience to low temperatures.

Their performance in cold weather is superior to all other types of battery, including NiMH and alkaline. In addition, they also weigh less than the other options, which comes in handy in light of all that heavy winter camping equipment.

Lithium batteries are rechargeable, so you can bring them home and keep them charged up for the next camping trip. This also makes them more environmentally friendly since batteries require special handling to dispose of.


9. Don’t Hold It In

So, you’ve had your dinner and you’re all tucked, but all of a sudden you feel like going to the bathroom. Now what?

Here’s what you shouldn’t do – never hold it in.

You see, your body will have to burn calories in order to keep your full bladder warm. The result of this is a decrease in body temperature. When your body can’t warm up the sleeping bag, it won’t be able to warm you up.

But what if it’s too cold to go outside? There are pee bottles and funnels for men and women that can be a great idea, so consider buying and bringing them with you.


Conquer the Cold

These winter camping tips can make sure that cold weather doesn’t ruin your camping experience. If you follow them, you should be able to eliminate the risk of cold-related health hazards and enjoy the exciting adventure of winter camping to the fullest.

So, bring the right winter camping gear, keep in mind a few simple rules, and get ready for a memorable adventure.

If you’re in need of some high-quality winter camping equipment, look no further than Tentworld. Stop by any of our 13 locations or visit our website to find all the equipment you need for a perfect winter camping trip.


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