Some of us get ‘cabin fever’ a little easier than others. Snow, ice, and wind won’t stop your appetite for adventure and exploration. While winter camping is an appealing way to escape The Winter Blues, it is also just as important to remember these key tips for an enjoyable, fulfilling adventure.
We all know that winter weather can change at the drop of a hat, so don’t forget to check your local weather forecasts before packing up. This way, you won’t be stuck with inadequate apparel, equipment. Even better, you can avoid taking too many things beyond your needs that contribute extra weight and space.
If your winter camping adventure will include snow, be sure to get your hands on a hot water bottle to stay warm overnight. Melt snow in a pot on your propane stove or over a fire pit at the end of evening and fill your hot water bottle with the hot water. Place it in your sleeping bag and reheat more water to refill when needed! It’s also not a bad idea to have several hot water bottles, so you can strategically place them in all the right areas of your body you will want continued warmth. If there is a lack of snow or water access you can always opt for hand warmers instead.
Before setting up your tent, pack down the snow where you would like to set it up with your skis, snowshoes, or boots if you must. Creating a firmer surface for your tent ensures you won’t discover a surprise soft spot and avoid risking making a tear in your tent floor. Plus, an even surface is always more pleasant to sleep on!
Depending on what elements you will be facing, keep in mind that if you pack a hat, pack a spare. Especially in snowy areas, you may surprise yourself with how soggy these kinds of necessities can get. You’ll want a back up pair of gloves and hat, scarves, socks, and such, so you are not stuck with cold, wet hands and feet!
While you certainly need to be mindful of adequate layers on top for your sleeping arrangement, you will also want to make sure you have a sleeping pad that will keep the cold out from underneath you. If your sleeping pad isn’t keeping you warm enough, you can line the bottom of your sleeping bag with extra clothes (another reason to bring some extras!) to help trap heat from escaping too quickly.
While every desired campsite will be different, there are some “ideals” to look for to ensure a comfortable, safe outdoor adventure. Try to find a location that has accessible firewood. You can eliminate the need to haul in firewood and it is always nice to know there are more supplies should your own run out. And even though melting snow is a technically fine way to get drinkable water, try finding a campsite near open water. Melting snow takes more fuel and energy than bringing water to a boil.
These little bits of advice are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to perfecting winter adventuring outdoors. As with any adventure, do your research on the area, weather, and it often helps to check conditions with the local ranger station. Enjoy the rest of the season and stay safe out there!