A First-Timer’s Guide To Winter Camping

A First-Timer’s Guide To Winter Camping

Winter campfire|Woman having coffe by tent during winter camping|Coffee over outdoor fire while winter camping|snow hiking

Posted November 7, 2022

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Winter is a great time to get out of the city and into the wilderness. If you’ve never been on a winter camping trip before, this guide will help you prepare for your first one so that you can have a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Follow these basic tips to get you camping in comfort and safety:

  1. Choose The Right Gear

Before you do anything else, make sure you have the right gear. There are many types of camping gear, so you have to pick right. Winter camping is no time to try out your first-ever tent or sleeping bag. Instead, go for something that’s proven itself in colder weather—and test it out yourself before your trip. 

For example, if you’re into yurts, you may want to choose an insulated yurt if you’re going on a camping trip in low temperatures. If it’s cold enough that everything outside could freeze up if not worn close to the body, consider investing in a down sleeping bag with high-quality fill power—but only if you’re comfortable with how heavy they are compared to synthetics. 

  1. Eat Well

Eating well is the best way to keep your body comfortable in cold weather.

Before you leave, make sure you stock up on foods that won’t need to be cooked and will sustain you through the night. Examples include granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, and jerky. Since it’s winter and there might be snow on the ground, it’s also a good idea to bring some food items that don’t require cooking, like crackers or rice cakes. 

If you plan on cooking over a fire but don’t want to waste fuel by heating water for coffee or tea, bring instant hot chocolate packets.

Coffee over outdoor fire while winter camping
  1. Be Ready For Emergencies

Having a first aid kit, fire starter, and other essentials is just the beginning. It’s also important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. What if you get lost? Or your car breaks down? Or it starts snowing so hard that you can’t see your hand in front of your face? 

Be sure to have a backup plan in case one of these things happens. If there’s no cell service where you’re headed, consider investing in a satellite phone or portable ham radio before setting out on your trip—or carry along an old-school walkie-talkie set that doesn’t require cell service or Wi-Fi connectivity.

  1. Stay Warm

Your winter camping will be a lot more fun if you’re warm and comfortable. To do this, you need to follow some basics:

  • Wear warm clothes. You want to be cozy and comfortable, but also be sure you’re not overheating. If you’re just wearing a t-shirt, add layers like a sweater or sweatshirt.
  • Bring a blanket to sleep under: If it’s cold at night and there is no tent or cabin available for you to use as shelter, then a blanket will come in handy. This way, you don’t have to worry about setting up an extra tent or opening the doors of your car for some warmth during the night.
  • Bring along some warm gloves and a hat: even though it might seem silly now when it’s 60 degrees outside in December, once winter hits full force, these items will come in handy more than once.
Woman having coffe by tent during winter camping
  1. Stay Dry

Your winter camping experience will be a lot more comfortable if you keep yourself dry. Here are some ways you could waterproof your clothing and gear: 

  • Wear a raincoat: If you’re going to be spending time outside, it’s a good idea to wear a raincoat over your other layers. Not only does this help protect you from the elements, but it also makes it easier for others to spot you if they should get lost or separated from their group.
  • Wear gaiters: Gaiters are socks that go over your regular socks, keeping them dry while protecting them from snow and ice buildup that can lead to blisters if not dealt with quickly enough, and they look kind of cool too.
  • Wear a hat: A wide-brimmed hat is essential for staying warm in winter conditions; it will help reduce heat loss from around the head area, which reduces sweat evaporation leading, in turn, to an increase in body temperature during active phases such as exertion or exercise.
  • Wear some gloves: These aren’t just something nice to have—they’re necessary when camping. Many people lose fingers every year because they didn’t think about how cold it would be outside before going out there.
  1. Exercise

The main rule of thumb here is: drink lots of water. When camping out in winter conditions, heat escapes our bodies through radiation rather than convection (the flow of air). This means your body temperature tends to drop quickly when you’re inactive — especially if you’re sitting still without proper insulation from clothing layers. 

So, make sure you stay fit during your trip and take time for some exercise such as jumping jacks or running around in place before returning back inside your tent where it’s nice and warm again.


Winter camping is a great way to get away from it all, but it can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. Make sure your campsite is free of ice and snow, and watch out for extreme cold or high winds—these are not conditions you want to be caught in unprepared.

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