It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Get outside and enjoy a winter wonderland by camping this season. There are many unique benefits to camping in the winter. It's a less popular time for camping which means fewer crowds and a pristine landscape. Experience the quiet beauty of the great outdoors, untouched by others.
We also have to mention: no bugs. At the very least, there are certainly fewer bugs. However, if you are not fully prepared and properly outfitted(don't forget your winter jacket, camping in the winter can get cold, miserable, and even dangerous. We have compiled this helpful list for you of absolute essentials for winter camping to keep you happy and warm while enjoying a wild winter wonderland.
Sleeping directly on the ground is never comfy, but in the winter can be downright dangerous. Without proper insulation between you and the earth, hypothermia becomes a very real hazard. Invest in a good sleeping pad to put some space between you and the ground to ensure a good (and warm) night’s sleep.
Similar to a good sleeping bag, a well-insulated sleeping bag is also essential for staying cozy and warm throughout the night. Sleeping bags come in many sizes, shapes, and materials, so make sure you invest in one that is specifically made for the weather and temperature that you will be camping in. Down is a great natural insulator for many winter sleeping bags. Don’t forget your warm comfy pajamas to change into before curling up in your sleeping bag.
Wear and bring lots of layers for your winter camping trip. You will want a warm but breathable and moisture-wicking base layer that fits right up against your skin. This will keep your body heat close to you. Bring many layers to take on and off throughout the day. You will be peeling off layers while hiking and exploring your campsite during the day and then piling them back on while making dinner by the fire before bed. Having a nice waterproof down coat is a great option for outerwear.
Having the right assortment of winter accessories can also make or break your winter camping trip. A warm hat, such as a wool beanie, is a must. If hats aren’t your thing, earmuffs are a great option.
The particular climate and the weather of your camping location will determine exactly what type of outerwear you will need. Make sure your outerwear is waterproof and windproof, as winter weather can be unpredictable. Gaiters to wear over your boots and pant legs are a great accessory to have for outdoor winter fun. They will repel dirt, gravel, and snow and keep your feet and legs nice and dry in any weather.
Merino wool is a staple fabric for outdoor winter fun. We especially recommend merino wool socks. These socks are antimicrobial and moisture-resistant. When they do become wet, they retain their insulating power and will keep your feet warm even if you trek through a stream or some deep puddles. Bring an extra pair for sleeping in to keep your feet warm and dry at night.
Women's winter boots are also on the essentials list, especially if you are camping in a snowy area. Trail runners are a great option for hiking and backpacking in spring and summer, but for winter activities, you will want a sturdier and more insulating option for your feet.
A camp stove is at the top of camping essentials, especially if you plan on staying in the wilderness or backcountry. Some places don't allow campfires, and other places with wet conditions make campfires impossible. You are going to want some hot food and beverages at the end of the day, so don't overlook this item.
It should go without saying that you need a first aid kit, and here is your reminder. Don't overlook this. Besides the normal front country contents of a standard first aid kit, you will want to make sure your winter camping first aid kit also includes an emergency blanket (a super lightweight reflective material that is very insulating), an emergency flair, and several hand or toes warmers (air-activated heat packs). A life straw or other water filtration system is also necessary if you are camping in a backcountry or wilderness setting.
This list is, of course, a very basic guideline and is in no way comprehensive or complete. Other items you might want to bring, though, vary widely depending on where you decide to trek for your winter wonderland adventure. If camping in the front country, for example, you can bring extra fleece blankets to curl up in while roasting marshmallows around the fire and pillows to make your tent extra comfy and cozy. Make sure to bring the essentials, be safe, and have fun.