I’ll be honest. No matter how “green” I am, I don’t like camping. I don’t like being immersed in the woods, and one with nature. But for some reason, some folks do.
And because of this, I’ve polled some people around me to see what the details are behind loving snoozing under the stars. What I soon learned is that camping doesn’t just have to be a summer activity. Yes, some people not only like sleeping outside… but also when it’s frigid cold outside.
I just don’t understand.
Regardless, if you do choose to go camp under the stars in the winter months, it’s important to do it right. Ditch the gear that you need for the hot summer weather. Instead, invest in the right stuff for sleeping on the snow.
One thing I will admit: winter does offer a beautiful landscape and a freshness that isn’t available in the heat of summer. So, I suppose if you do it right, you might actually enjoy it.
The key to camping successfully in the cold winter months is not just having the right gear, but having the right knowledge, too. Here are some tips to get you started.
If you have a camper or an RV, make sure that you take the time to winterize it. The most important part of this is taking care of the water system. If the water freezes, it can burst your pipes, break seals, and end up costing you a pretty penny to replace and fix all the issues that it has caused. There should be a user manual that came with your model, so be sure to consult it for details. Also double check that the heater is working and the other parts of the vehicle are up to date and running well.
Get a hot water bottle
Although you’ll want to use it for yourself, you’ll also want to use it for your sleeping bag. Before heading to bed, warm your body, blankets, and your sleeping bag with the hot water bottle. By pre-warming it, your body temperature doesn’t have to take hold of the dirty work and getting cooled down in the process.
Don’t just pick anywhere
When you’re planning on where to go camping in the winter, take into consideration how cold it might be at different locations. Do you want it to be freezing? Extremely cold? Lots of snow? Or just a chill in the air but a little more mild? Make sure you research a bit on the climate before you head there.
Once you pick it, know thy weather
Okay, so you’ve selected and booked up your camping trip, but that doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about the weather. Be sure to stay up-to-date on the weather forecast. You want to be sure to be prepared for all of the possible high temperatures and low temperatures, storm warnings, and any other sudden changes in the weather.
Pack the right clothes
Now, logically you won’t pack like you’re off to the tropics, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp by picking a few of your favourite pieces of clothing. Think in terms of layers and the right materials. Wool, for one, will keep you very warm as a base layer, so opt for that for some options, including on your feet. Look for warm boots, as well as a warm jacket, and bring gloves, a scarf and/or neckwarmer, and a toque. Thermal underwear, or that made of merino wool, will also wick away moisture and keep you warm and cozy. Choose items that are light but can easily be layered, which will help regulate your body temperature.
Pack the right stuff
Not only do you need the right clothes, but you also need all of the right equipment. After all, you want to be comfortable, don’t you? Be sure to select a sleeping bag that is designed specifically for the climate of your camping destination. Anything that isn’t at least the required temperature will leave you, well, feeling pretty darn cold. Other good items include a down air mattress, which will help the cold air that comes from the ground and the snow, and extra fuel for your camp stove.
Don’t forget the firewood
Speaking of camp stoves, staying warm, and well, camping in the winter in general, you want to be sure that you bring plenty of extra firewood, no matter your destination. It can be pretty difficult to find sufficient firewood in the winter time, mostly because it will be either too wet to burn or, possibly, there isn’t much left from the busy time of the summer campers. Firewood is important for cooking and staying warm – two must have when camping – so make sure you have plenty of extra on hand.
Don’t eat salad
Okay, well, who does that when they are camping, anyway? But the key to food here is that cold weather camping requires body warming meals. This means, do away with the snacks and raw foods, and go for something comforting and warm. Have soups and stews made in advanced for reheating in a sealed bag, or bring them in the can. Have a thermos for drinking out of, and stock up on tea bags, coffee, and hot chocolate.