Going on a camping trip during the colder months can be an amazing adventure. If you go unprepared, however, it can be a troublesome and even life-threatening experience. Camping in colder weather calls for a lot more gear, thorough preparation, and a basic knowledge of the environmental factors.
Winter campouts mean no bugs, less crowds, and unparalleled beauty, making the later seasons ideal for camping enthusiasts and nature lovers. While you may not need to pack a swimsuit and insect repellent, you will need a variety of winter equipment to keep you comfortable, especially extra layers of clothing and a durable, insulated tent. Make sure you have got all you need before heading out, so that your time spent in the wilderness is enjoyable in all the best ways.
Assuming that you have already acquired the basic equipment for any camping trip, such as a compass and a map (and that tent!), we have compiled a list of other essentials needed specifically for camping in colder weather. Obtain this gear and completely prepare yourself in order to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
You will need a waterproof jacket and pants set, similar to a tracksuit, to keep you warm and dry. If snow or rain should penetrate your outer layers, you will still have vital insulation. Waterproof boots are a plus as well, being that you will most likely be trekking through snow.
Make sure you have waterproof pack as well. Use that to keep all of your extra garments safe and dry.
This can be the metal lid from a garbage can, an old metal sled, or a specialized fire tray, but regardless, you will need a foundation to build a lasting campfire on cold, wet ground. Place the tray on the ground, lip side up, and build your fire up on the tray. The metal bottom will provide added heat as well.
GOGGLES AND SUNGLASSES
Sunglasses in winter? Goggles out of water? Yes. Not only do they protect you from foreign objects and the sun’s rays, but they will keep the wind from penetrating your vision and drying your eyes out as well. Also, it doesn’t hurt to bring eye-drops along, to keep your eyes moist.
This is very important! A basic fire kit should contain waterproof matches and/or a lighter, as well as kindling, and fire-steel. This entire kit should be stored in a waterproof container, and keep extra waterproof matches in your pocket, just in case you lose the kit.
If, for some reason, you get caught in a situation where all you have to survive is what is on your person, you’ll want to make sure a way to start a fire is on you at all times.
ICE PICK OR AXE
If you are camping in a true winter environment, you will need these tools. You won’t be asking “why” when you are stuck trying to find a water source and you come across a frozen creek or lake. Ice picks can help you get through dense snow and help to penetrate ice to reach drinkable water. You may also need it to help clear brush.
INSULATED SLEEPING BAG
Because, it’s cold out there! With your insulated tent and a good sleeping bag, you will increase your body’s ability to rest to its full potential, providing you with a great amount of energy needed for high-endurance exercise.
INFLATABLE FOAM MATTRESS & TARP
If you are camping for an extended period of time, or in temperatures that are lower than 30°F, you are going to want to raise yourself up off of the ground. Lay out the tarp and place the inflatable sleeper on top. This will provide maximum insulation and keep you well-rested, which you will need to be! The tarp alone will help to insulate the floor of your tent as well, and lock in necessary heat.
SMALL SNOW SHOVEL
This will help when setting up your camp. You will be able to shovel out a small enclosure in the snow, which will provide protection (creating a boundary of sorts that will ward off most animals) and keep you dry as well. Your campfire should help in keeping the larger “wild things” away. Collapsible snow shovels are available and are convenient to carry as well.
LIP BALM AND LOTION/MOISTURIZER
The last thing you want are your lips and hands so dry from the winter winds that they crack and bleed every time you move a muscle. Packing sunscreen is a good idea as well, as you will be under direct contact with the sun and outdoors at all times.
PACKABLE COOKING SET
Hot meals are going to be your friend, especially in the colder months. Make sure you have a collapsible pot to make soups, and a thermos to keep them warm for when you are traveling.
EXTRA FOOD SUPPLY
You will want to pack energy drink packs, protein and nutrition bars, and at least one extra day’s worth of meals for your journey. Should you become stranded (knock on wood!), you will need all the nutrients you can fit in your pack to get you through.
You can only carry so much water with you, and if you are not at a designated campsite with a water source, you will have to find water the natural way. Having a water filter handy will protect you from any infections due to bacteria or foreign particles.
You should NOT leave home without this stuff. It has 100+ uses, all of which will save your life in a pinch. Uses include patching sleeping bags and ripped clothing, creating makeshift hand and leg warmers, and providing a variety of waterproof surfaces.(10 Ways Duct Tape Can Save Your Life)
Liner socks, wool socks, spare socks; bring them all!
You will want to have at least 3-4 extra pairs. The most important thing to protect while camping and hiking through the wilderness are your feet. Keep toes dry and warm at all times for maximum agility.
Fires are good, but not always the safest or most convenient option. If you are hunting while camping, or trying to stay invisible otherwise, you will want a small battery-powered or solar-powered lantern that you can use as needed, without preparation and cleanup.
Whether you are looking to go on an unforgettable excursion, or aiming for a more relaxing trip with the family, you will want to make sure you are prepared. Every camper should gear up to the max when it comes to putting themselves in the middle of the wilderness, as nature is unpredictable.
There have been many times where outdoor enthusiasts have not made a checklist, or thought that they wouldn’t need a certain item, and sure enough, they run into a situation in which that item left behind would have been extremely useful.
Go over your equipment several times, check and recheck, to ensure that you have everything that you would possibly need to not only stay alive, but to stay comfortable.
Make sure friends back home know the campsite or area that you are going to be in, and check in with park rangers as well. Going camping in colder weather is a completely different experience than roasting marshmallows in the woods on a summer night. Plan accordingly, obtain the necessary gear, and you will stay safe, warm, and happy on your winter camping adventure!
Post by John Miler
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