Essential Winter Camping Checklist
Winter can be a merciless weather. It is not surprising that most people would just want to stay indoors than brave the cold weather outside. But folks who wanted a change of sceneries and those who wanted to have some fun despite the ugly weather do one thing instead: winter camping.
Getting Started: Winter Camping
As mentioned, winter camping needs extra planning and camping gear.
If it’s your first time to go on a winter camping trip, know that you have to carry extra pounds of gear and they are heavier than what you think. Know that you’ve got to learn new and out-of-this-world methods of cooking and navigating the campsite and nearby trails.
To help you be prepared for the worst possible condition in winter camping, here are three essential strategies to help you get started.
- Camp first in your home’s backyard.
Before you aspire for going on a big camping trip for a number of days, you’ve got to try a small winter camping adventure first. Test yourself first to see how far you can go. This is also a perfect time to test your gear. Make sure to practice your skills in a place where success is not going to be critical to your survival.
- Take your time.
Do not rush for snow and cold can slow everything down. Do not take shortcuts. Make sure your moves during the winter camping trip are slow but sure.
- Do not take a chance with incomplete gear.
With summer camping, you may be able to get away with it. But with winter camping, make sure your gear is complete. For if not, the consequences and penalties can be big. Only go in a complete set of proven and tested winter camping gear.
Top Essentials for Winter Camping
Winter camping can be difficult and challenging. The weather can be ruthless and harsh more than anyone can expect. But with the correct gear and the right amount of planning and preparation, winter camping can be fun, adventure-filled, enjoyable, and most importantly, safe.
- An ultra-warm sleeping bag
Sleeping bags are your best friends during the cold winter nights when you are winter camping. They keep you warm and toasty so you can curl up inside the tent comfortably. You should pick a quality sleeping bag which is heated in the right temperature. The temperature ratings specified for sleeping bags are approximated only. You should choose one which is within level or below the temperatures you are expecting during your winter camping adventure.
When choosing the size of a winter camping sleeping bag, it is very important to choose one that is roomy. You dont want it to be super huge, but just enough space for extra layers where you can keep the extra stuff like extra clothes, water bottles, and batteries.
- An expedition tent
Another thing you need to keep you warm is a four season or expedition style tents for winter camping. Expedition tents have extra guy-lines, stronger poles, and sturdier fabrics to battle extreme winds. Choose a tent that is specifically made for winter camping and has passed the winter camping standards.
If expedition tents are something you won’t be able to buy, the other alternative is to get a single-wall tent. A single-wall tent is made of waterproof and breathable fabric which make it extremely warm, easy to set up, and durable, and can work during winter camping trips, too.
- A huge backpack
You need a massive and gigantic backpack to contain everything you need for a safe, fun, and exciting winter camping.
- A big coat
To keep you warm while you are not in bed during your winter camping trip, choose to bring a big and puffy jacket. It is better if you can find one with an insulated hood. Make sure to pick one which is large enough to fit you comfortably while you are moving to and fro the campsite. Choose that which is made of synthetic material as it is the best choice for wet and damp weather.
- A water bottle insulator
Choose to bring a reliable water-bottle insulator to aid you in keeping your water liquid during the negatively low temperature. Another tip is to always store your water bottle top-down when you go winter camping so you can prevent the cap from freezing shut.
- A stove
The best way to cook food, melt snow, and boil drinks is through a winter camping camp stove. Choose a stove that has the highest output possible and one which uses liquid fuel, preferably white gas. Go for one that’s reliable and durable to stand the test of time.
The Ultimate Winter Camping Checklist
The following checklist is best and highly recommended for winter camping trips in mountain environments where temperature can be negative zero. This list was made specifically for winter campers so that they do not forget anything.
synthetic hiking pants
expedition-weight long john bottoms
expedition-weight long john top
long sleeve T-shirt
synthetic sports bra
insulated camp booties
waterproof and insulated hiking boots
heavyweight down mittens
mid weight insulated ski gloves
synthetic liner gloves
sun hat or visor
wool or fleece hat
cooking set and utensils
convertible or four-season tent
compass or GPS
eating utensils, bowl, and insulated mug
first-aid kit with personal medications
headlamp w/extra batteries and bulb
inflatable sleeping pad
lighter and waterproof matches
pocketknife or multitool
sleeping bag (-30° to 0°F)
white-gas stove and fuel bottles
vacuum-insulated bottle for hot drinks
32-oz. water bottles
Top Tips and Hacks for Winter Camping
When going on a winter camping adventure, you are required to carry a lot more gear and learn many new skills. There are tips and hacks you should learn for a comfortable and safe winter camping trips. Here they are.
- Bring two stoves.
Do not rely on stoves very much for they can fail during winter time. Bring two winter camping stoves so that if ever one fails, you are sure to be able to cook. White gas stoves can stop functioning if ever that they are not properly maintained and cleaned regularly. On the other hand, canister stoves can also fail if it is too cold for their fuel to vaporize. So to make sure your winter camping trip is not ruined, bring two stoves.
- Carry your water bottles in insulated pockets.
When you go on a hike during your winter camping trip, it is highly recommended to use bottles with wide mouth so that you can easily pour the water, even boiling water, during the morning or any time you need it. Make sure that they are stored upside down to avoid the top from freezing shut. Store them in insulated water bottle pockets inside or outside of your pack surrounded by insulating garments to make sure they do not freeze.
- Choose and pack lithium batteries instead of alkaline batteries during your winter camping trip.
Alkaline batteries are made up of water-based electrolyte solution and for this reason, they easily break down and do not perform very well during the cold weather. On the other hand, lithium batteries are much more reliable and powerful than them. They function with optimum performance during winter so they are the perfect choice of batteries to bring during your winter camping trip.
- To prevent frostbite, wrap the fuel bottles with a duct tape.
When you bring liquid fuel or white gas during your winter camping trip, you have to be extra careful. Even if the temperature is below freezing point, they can still remain in liquid form and if it accidentally pours or touches your skin, they can evaporate immediately but they can leave you with either a frost nip or a more severe frost bite. The truth is if you touch an uninsulated fuel bottle with your bare hands, it can cause you a cold injury. So avoid this from happening by making sure to wrap the bottles with a duct tape for insulation purposes.
- Dig a pit under the tents front vestibule.
The pit should be around 3 feet deep under the front vestibule of the winter camping tent. This way you can sit down in front of the door when you are taking off your winter boots or when you need to out them on. Another purpose it serves is it increases the amount of gear you can store under the vestibule fly.
- Wear oven bags on your feet.
Wearing gaiters during your winter camping trip and hiking can cause your socks to get wet because of foot and leg sweat. Wet socks will then freeze during the night but you can prevent it from happening by sleeping with them in your sleeping bag. You can also keep your socks dry by wearing oven roasting bags under your socks. This will make way for your feet to sweat less and to stay warmer.
- Sleep with your boots during the night.
Make sure that each night on your winter camping trip, you sleep with your boots in your sleeping bag. If the winter boots or boot lines have become damp during the day, you need to sleep with them in your sleeping bag at night to keep them from freezing. The problem with frozen boots is that you cannot wear them again until they have been thawed out.
- Use plastic grocery bags as snow anchors.
Instead of using tent stakes, make use of plastic grocery bags as snow anchors for your tent. This way you do not have to carry tent stakes anymore. Be sure to fill the plastic grocery bags with snow and bury them so just their handles are showing above the surface of the snow. You do not have to wait for them to harden and they are recommended for winter camping because they are very easy to remove during the morning. They are also lightweight and they are reusable.
- Eat boil-in-bag frozen food.
During your winter camping trip, you can carry frozen meals which were readily prepared for camping trips. Most boil in bag frozen food are available in supermarkets so buy them than dehydrated camping meals.
Camp Like A Pro During Your Winter Camping Trip
By observing these simple tips and hacks, you will be able to have a more comfortable winter camping experience. Be sure to ask for help and assistance when you can’t do it on your own. Your fellow campers will be happy to lend you a helping hand.
Prepare For Your Winter Camping Trip Now
Winter camping is an experience in itself. With the right gear and the right skills, as well as the support of your fellow winter campers and hikers, you’ll be sure to make the most out of your winter camping trip.
Have a safe and thrilling winter camping trip!
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