Cold weather camping can be a lot of fun, with even casual campers being able to enjoy the challenges and opportunities associated with being out in nature during Winter. Having said that, there are many things to bear in mind if you’re planning on staying out overnight and these five things are amongst the most important if you're going to make the most of your camping trip.
#1 - Keeping Warm
Let’s start with the most obvious point first, keeping warm. Surrounding yourself with warm things is the starting point to maintain a comfortable temperature. This begins with your choice of tent and sleeping bag, which is less straightforward than many people are aware of. Sleeping bags have a temperature rating and season rating and getting the right one for the job means a world of difference in comfort.
There is a similar way to look at tents as not all of them are made for the four seasons, so ensure you have one that is. When picking a tent you need to consider exactly what you’re planning on doing with it as a tent that is for good all the year around in the mid-western states won’t keep up in Alaska, and what keeps you safe and warm in the arctic tundra is likely overkill for a night in those mid-western states.
#2 - Don’t Just Be Organised, Be Waterproof
Having a pen and paper nearby is tantamount to convenience. These items can lose their viability when facing outdoor conditions so consider getting a waterproof notepad so that you don’t always have to worry about losing your notes to a little, or a lot of rain. There are many uses for a notepad on the road but making any lists, for example of provisions, beforehand will become much more reliable when you know it won’t be destroyed the moment you absent-mindedly place it on a damp surface.
You might want to find a waterproof pen to match that notepad, of which there are many options. To really make sure you never need to rely on pulling out that smartphone in the rain, consider investing in a waterproof map too. There is waterproof paper which can be printed on and taken along on your travels. Not only is it preferable leaving technology in the pocket during rain, snow or such a level of cold that you don’t want to remove your gloves to tap a phone screen, it saves you from ever worrying about where you place the map. The longer and more far out your trip you’re planning is, the more vital these waterproof items become.
#3 - Apparel & Footwear
Make sure you avert potential misery with the right wardrobe. Wind-breakers, fleeces, thermals, heavy socks and a good pair of boots go a long way to suiting up for the cold. There are many boots made to brave the winter climate, using materials that help keep your feet dry and comfortable, making them excellent companions for hiking and general traversal in snow, wetness and slush. Woolly socks are a must as they keep things warm and toasty even after getting damp. Wool can absorb a third of its weight in moisture before it starts to feel wet and it will still insulate warmth.
Layering up is a must as your capacity to keep heat trapped in your clothing increases with each layer. It’s wise to layer up before the cold starts getting to you. If your current layers are feeling great but you notice a temperature drop, get another layer on before your body temperature also starts dropping. If you’re willing to go an extra step when hiking, gaiters are a great choice to protect your legs from branches, thorns and mud, adding another level of defense between you and all the natural vexations the wild throws at you.
#4 - Sleeping Well
Some previously mentioned supplies will come in handy here. Sleeping well has a lot to do with comfort and warmth so if you ensure you have the right tent, sleeping bag and a wisely picked wardrobe for the trip, you’re already well on your way to a peaceful slumber. A hot drink is a good way to warm yourself up before getting into bed, saving you from the longer process of using your body heat to eventually warm the bed up while you feel cold until then.
A mat to place under your sleeping bag is another helpful accessory, as it will help to prevent heat loss and improve comfort. Ultimately, there are a lot of different ways to achieve a warm and cosy sleep including taking extra blankets, sleeping bag liners, laying down sheepskin to sleep on, taking along bedding options that keep you off the hard ground and insulate warmth and so on. Do your research to find the best combination of tricks to suit your needs.
#5 - Packing Extra Supplies
Having food and drinks to last a few days longer than you plan you go, fuel to drive further than you plan to drive, extra layers, extra socks (especially for if a pair gets too damp) and underwear (especially if a pair gets too.. damp). This isn’t to say go crazy with packing everything you can think of and then packing it twice. You want to find the right balance in not being bogged down with too much to carry while not having to fear that any essentials will run out.