Camping has a wide range of distinctions, ranging from renting a cabin heated with fire, going on your outdoor adventures with a mobile trailer, for the wicked – it means grabbing a back pack and carrying all necessary items to a remote location. It doesn’t matter how you camp – this guide will show you how to camp in cold weather.
15 Tips For Camping In The Winter
Boil Snow For Water
Don’t bother bringing your water filter. Mechanical filters will crack and fail, chemical filters take a much longer time to work in cold weather. The best way to filter your water is to boil it, as you will have to melt snow anyway. Glacial melt and fresh snow is NOT sterile, so don’t get that in your head. Snowflakes only form over little bits of dust (nucleation sites). This means bacteria and viruses can be in the atmosphere.
Windburn and Frostbite Prevention
Rub exposed skin with Vaseline, or animal fats as an alternative. The Inuit have been carrying out this little trick for decades. All you need to do is slather any exposed – or potentially exposed areas of your body, such as, ears, neck, face, hands or wrists, with thick oil, preventing you from getting frostbite or windburn.
Flip Your Water Storage Container
If you bought a large water storage container, flip it upside down overnight. Ice forms from the top down so doing this will stop your lid/opening area from freezing. This easy trick can also be combined when insulating your storage container.
Keep Your Sleeping Bag Dry
When it’s not snowing during the day time, you might want to turn your sleeping bag inside out and place it on top of your tent for the day, which will help keep it dry. This is exactly why you should choose a winter sleeping bag that has a black interior. They absorb a hell of a lot more solar energy, and they dry a lot quicker.
Combat Condensation Using VBL
If you decide to head out camping for more than a week, use a vapor-barrier-liner on your sleeping bag. Condensation inside your sleeping bag from your body will freeze, mostly within the upper part of the sleeping bag. This is because the freezing air meets the warm air, and if not carefully treated, your sleeping bag can actually become frozen solid. They are not really comfortable to sleep in, however it’s a lot better than having to hit your sleeping bag with a hammer or a rock every night, like polar explorers usually do.
Camp By Candlelight
Candle lanterns that are hung safely on the side of your tent (which needs to be far away from you and the roof to prevent any fires starting) works like a charm. You can heat your tent up AND reduce condensation build-up. However, if you decide not to go this route, a towel can still do the trick.
Sleep With Your Boots
Sleep with your boots on, however it is best if you wear ones with removable liner. Put the liners under your sleeping bag to keep them heated. If you’ve only got single-layer boots, put them inside a waterproof stuff sack at the end of your sleeping bag. Have you ever woken up and put on frozen boots? It is not good at all.
Learn To Love Lithium
Learn to use lithium batteries ALL the time. More importantly, in your winter electronics. Lithium batteries perform incredibly well in cold temperatures than NiMh or alkaline batteries. They also last 3x longer, lighter, and they have a flat decay curve.
Bring The Correct Sleeping Pad
Be sure to use the correct sleeping bad. 2 layers at the bottom are worth 1 at the top. You lose more heat through conductive heat loss while you’re sleeping rather than any other time. Winter is no time to forget about your sleeping pad. Get yourself a sleeping pad with an R value 4 or more. If you have a closed-cell foam pad, throw that underneath as well. If you think that your padding just isn’t enough, jam some clothing underneath you, then place your down jacket on your sleeping bag.
Stake Out A Tent
If snow is present, stake out a tent. Deadmen can be created out of fallen trees, sticks, buried skis, sacks full of snow, ice axes, poles, snowshoes, or whatever items you have. You have no excuses for a poorly staked-out tent. However if you are expecting NO snow, but frozen conditions, there are lots of companies that make hard tent stakes that can push through frozen ground. These are usually made out of steel, aluminium, or titanium.
Wear Fireproof Clothing
If you plan on building campfires, either for cooking, keeping warm, or morale, you need to make sure you clothes won’t be ruined if struck my an ember. Down jackets are awful to use, so wool is your best bet. Wool is the best natural fire-resistant material you can get.
Extra Gloves And Hat
This goes without saying, ALWAYS pack an extra pair of gloves and a spare hat. I don’t care how diligent you are, or how religious you may be about using keeper cords and idiot strings, you ARE going to lose a hat, and most probably a glove. So make sure you bring a spare hat or gloves, or be prepared for a shortened trip or worst – frostbite.
Pack The Snow
Before you set up your tent, you should pack down the snow. However, if you have snowshoes or skis, you should tramp around the ground until all snow is packed. If you only have boots with you, this could take a little bit more time. If you don’t do this, you can possibly get a tear in your flooring from a bit of snow.
Learn To Love The Pee Bottle
Being cold can cause you to urinate more often. We all know how difficult to open up your sleeping bag at 0 degrees F. If you’re a women I highly recommend you look at convenient accessories that allow you to pee while standing. For both genders, a marked pee bottle will provide warmth, and simplify your cold-winter nights. For the love of god, please mark your pee bottle properly. Pee color changes, you DON’T want to accidentally drink out of it.
Go For A Walk In The Morning
Mornings are the hardest times when camping in the winter. Temperatures are usually coldest just before dawn, which means you’ll come out of your sleeping bag easily chilled and inactive. The easiest way to combat this is to get up and go for a walk. After you have warmed up, then you can move on to your morning tasks.
You’re probably thinking, why would anyone want to camp in the snow? This is because the summertime camping spots are usually overcrowded and they have hibernated to their homes, which makes campgrounds a lot more peaceful, and the landscape is completely different. Trees shed leaves, while rives and lakes have frozen.
People love to camp in the winter, but that’s only because they are prepared with the correct equipment, and have become an informed winter camper.
Winter is not something you want to mess with without the proper knowledge. If you enjoyed this article then let me know below what you’ve struggled with in the winter while camping.
8 thoughts on “15 Steps To Teach You How To Camp In Cold Weather”
Wow these are all good tips. I have seen many people freezing when they went camping in a really cold weather like this. Definitely I would take a walk or exercise to get myself warmer. This is the first time I’ve heard about lithium batteries though. But thanks for sharing this!
Thanks for the reply Jassi. Yes, it’s a real shame that people decide to go out camping in the winter without the proper knowledge, leaving them cold and miserable the entire trip. Glad these tips helped you.
I like the tip to keep your water supply upside down. I do that with my peanut butter. Have you ever opened a jar of PB and all the oil is on top? I also would have thought clean snow is good to drink. Mom always taught us not to eat the yellow snow lol! I guess the major secret to camping in these temperatures is to layer up and stay warm but it was also a great idea to keep your boots warm, because you’re right – cold boots suck!
Huh, never thought to do that with my peanut butter, great idea. Although I haven’t really had peanut butter in a while, lol. Yeah man, you’re correct – the secret to camping in the cold is just really just to layer up and try to avoid all your equipment getting cold or wet.
Great article! I really enjoyed it. I don’t particularly like to camp in the winter but if I ever have to, I learned a lot of different little tricks, thanks to this article. The pee bottle made me laugh, I know how terrible it is to have you go to the bathroom really bad but you don’t want to get out of you warm sleeping bag. Thanks for the information!
I know right, nothing like a warm pee bottle to keep you warm all night long haha. Things can get real crazy when your out alone and desperate for heat. Cheers for the comment James. Happy camping!
Winter camping can be fun, but it can also be just plain cold. Plan ahead to make your cold-weather camping trip comfortable and memorable as the moon makes the snow-draped forest glow, and the retreat of the summertime campers means you have plenty of space to yourself.
I agree with you Jamie, winter camping is really amazing and worth trying out and definitely worth it just to see the landscape change from summer to winter. Thanks for the comment 🙂