How to Prepare for a Winter Camping Trip


Winter Camping Trip

Winter camping is one of the best adventure trips that one can think of to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the pristine snow wonderland. But for those who are not really ready for the trip, it could be challenging as well. For those wanting to set up for a successful winter campout, they need to build up their knowledge on fair weather camping. This includes additional adjustments with cold temperatures, unpredictable weather, and snowy landscapes.

Important Gear for Winter Camping:

The requisites for winter camping is similar to backpacking but with through emphasis on toughness and warmth.

  • Tents
  • Winter camping Backpacks
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Backpacking stoves
  • Shoes



For winter camping it is important to have a shelter that handles winter weather efficiently. It is better for beginners to take 3-season backpacking tent and pitch it below the tree line if stormy weather is in the forecast.

For trails that witnesses heavy snowfall and high winds, then a 4-season tent is a must. 4-season tents have sturdy poles and heavy fabrics so as to withstand powerful gusts of wind and heavy snow.

These tents also have less mesh and their rainfly extend close to the ground to prevent snow from getting inside the tent. There should be extra space for a tent for another person so as to store the gear inside the tent, away from elements.

Winter camping Backpacks:

Winter backpacking demands a lot of additional gear and bulky clothes and thus demands a larger pack than typical summertime backpacks. It is a good deal to pack as lightly as possible.

For a two days’ trip and backpack should be of the 65-liter pack in the lightweight category and 80 liters for deluxe category. For those planning to carry snowshoes and skies, the backpack should have lash points to secure these large items.

Sleeping Bags:

Winter camps will have extremely cold nights and sleeping bags are a must to keep oneself warm during those clammy nights. Campers should invest in a bag that can handle at least 10 degrees lower than the coldest temperature one an encounter. Bags are the best gear to vent when the camper wants to get warm. While choosing a sleeping bag, one has to consider the following things,

  • Cold weather bags have generous layers of synthetic insulation. The bags should have excellent warmth to weight ratio with prompt dryness. When they are wet they start losing their insulation ability.
  • Winter bags have their draft tubes behind the zippers and draft collars above the shoulders. They also have hoods to retain the heat in the bags.
  • If the sleeping bag is not warm enough, a sleeping bag liner comes as an excellent addition. It also adds warmth while minimizing wear. They help to keep the bag clean.


Sleeping Pads:

The sleeping pad helps with additional cushioning and essential insulation for the sleeping bag. It is good to carry two full-length sleeping pads for winter camping to help the body from on cold snowy surfaces. The best idea is to use a closed cell foam pad next to the ground.

A self-inflating pad on its top to enjoy the best of insulation from the cold ground. The foam pad offers additional safety when the self-inflating pad gets flat.

Sleeping pads have their R-value which is the measurement of the insulation and ranges from 1.0 to 8.0. Higher the R-value of the sleeping pad, better is its insulation levels. Sleeping pads for all season or winter generally have an R-Value about 4.0 or higher.


Backpacking Stoves:

Stoves are essential for warming essential things as everything can get dead cold in the winter camping trips. Most of the liquid fuel stoves and the canister stoves are ideal for winter camping.

Liquid fuel stoves run on white gas that burns both hot and clean. They perform exceptionally well in below freezing temperatures as well. They are heavier and burn slower than canister stoves, it is important to prime them before cooking. Some multi-fuel stoves can burn on unleaded gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene and on diesel as well. They are the choice of winter camping gear for international trips.

Canister stoves are compact, lightweight and are quick to boil. But they don’t work very well in cold weather. For those wanting to use a canister stove have to make sure if it has a built-in pressure regulator. There should be a backup stove with ample fuel to melt snow for drinking.


For camping sites that have only a few inches of snow on the ground, hiking is perfect to get around. For sites that have lots of snow, some form of floatation techniques is mandatory to make traveling easier. People who are proficient in snowboarding or skiing, snowshoes are mandatory.

Backcountry skis are ideal for mellow terrain. Snowboards come handy for climbing hills and to travel uphill. Sled is the choice campers who are on long expeditions. They help to carry more gear on the snow and reducing weight on the back.


Some important tips for novice winter campers:

  1. Wear fireproof shells: winter camps demand campfires to keep one warm and also for cooking and as a moral. Wearing a fireproof jacket made of wool and other natural fire-resistant materials is an important safety feature.
  2. Pack additional hats and gloves: An additional set of mittens and a spare cap is a must with winter camping as there are all chances of losing them. Keeping a spare also eliminates dangerous outcomes such as frostbite.
  3. Boiling the snow: There is no need to carry the water filter for the camping site. Chemical filters take long time o work in the old and the mechanical filters can crack too. The best filtration technique is to boil the water and melt the snow. Glacial melt and fresh snow are not sterile and demand to boil before drinking.
  4. Sleep with the boots on: Using boots with removing lines is beneficial so that the liners can be kept at the bottom of the sleeping bag to make them warm. Those having single layer boots can secure them in a waterproof sack at the bottom of the sleeping bag. Frozen boots are the number one reasons for morning hypothermia.
  5. Lantern: Candle lantern when used with caution can keep the tent warm and also decrease condensation. A trowel to scrape off the snow is also the best bet.
  6. Lithium batteries: Lithium batteries are best to use for all winter electronics. This is because lithium performs consistently in colder temperatures compared with alkaline batteries. They are also lightweight and last three times longer.
  7. Vapor barrier liner: For those camping in the snow for more than a week then a VPL or vapor barrier liner for the sleeping bag is ideal. Condensation from one’s own body can freeze on the upper layer of the sleeping bag, where the warm air meets the freezing air. Over time the bag can get frozen solid and becomes uncomfortable to sleep.
  8. Flip the sleeping bag: If it is not snowing then the sleeping bag can be hung on top of the tent inside out to dry in the day time. Bags with black interiors absorb more solar power and dry faster.
  9. Vaseline: exposed skin on the face neck, ears, wrist, and hands be covered with Vaseline or animal fat to avoid frostbite and windburn.



The simple rule for winter camping is to stay warm and dry throughout the trip. Having the best and right gear for the trip is critical for enjoyment when camping in the cold for extended periods. We hope our guide helps you to prepare at the best for your winter camping trips.

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