Home   /   Blog  /  Get Outside   /   Winter Camping is for Everyone

Winter Camping is for Everyone

December 2, 2021

Written by Mike Ellsworth, Outdoor Recreation Director

Let’s face it…some of us are not crazy about this cold weather rolling in. We long for the days of beach vacations, river trips, and summertime campfires. But these winter months don’t have to put a damper on your outdoor trips. Some of my most memorable camping trips were cold weather trips. They do require a bit more planning and preparation, but they can create much more rewarding and unique experiences.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Brush up on your knowledge of hypothermia and frostbite. Being able to catch these injuries early and treat them appropriately will be crucial in you having an enjoyable time camping.

Pack Correctly

Winter camping can be a little more problematic to pack for. Think warm, insulated, quick-drying materials for everything. If you haven’t eliminated cotton from your outdoor wardrobe yet, this is the trip to do it. Think fabrics like wool or polyester — these wick away moisture that will sap heat from your body.

Having a cozy and comfortable “home away from home” will be your lifesaver. Check out the temp rating on your sleeping bag and be sure that your tent is sturdy enough to handle the winter winds. Don’t forget the sleeping pad either. The ground is your enemy, and you want to be sure to have a nice barrier as it will suck heat through conduction.

For general clothing, think in these categories:

  • Base Layers — this layer is closest to your skin and should be loose fitting so it doesn’t restrict blood flow. You want this layer to wick away moisture and keep you comfortable and dry.
  • Mid Layers — this is the padding. Think puffy, insulated, and cozy to trap in lots of air to keep you warm.
  • Outer Layers — you want this to stop the wind, rain, and cold weather. This shell needs to be tough enough to keep out the elements, but still breathable, so it doesn’t trap your own body’s moisture in.
  • Other
    • Socks — nothing ruins a trip like cold feet. Nice thick, winter socks will be key for a positive experience.
    • Footwear — going back to that “foot” comment. Bring your boots or sturdy footwear to keep out the cold.
    • Gloves/Hat — don’t be that rookie who forgets his gloves…

For other gear suggestions, don’t forget to check out REI’s Ten Essentials.

Bring Lots of Food

Your body is a furnace, and it needs fuel to make heat. Bring twice as much food as you would normally eat. Your metabolism will be running in overdrive, and the last thing you want is for it to run out of fuel. Plan to eat hearty breakfasts and dinners with LOTS of snacks all day long. Eating a high-calorie (sugars, fats, carbohydrates) snack as close to bedtime as possible will also help keep your body stay warm through the night.

Plan to Pass the Time

During those warm weather trips, time can seem to fly by as you watch the trees grow. But, when you are cold, time can feel frozen too and minutes can feel like hours. If you catch yourself bored, you will be that much inclined to pack up shop as the temperature drops. Plan for success and prepare lots of activities to pass the time and keep yourself warm.

  • Gather and cut firewood
    • The famous quote by Henry Ford, “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice” takes on a whole new meaning out in the woods.
  • Build natural shelters
    • Brush up on your survival skills and build a shelter out of logs, brush, or snow if you’ve got it!
  • Go for a hike
    • Even areas that you have seen a hundred times look different in the winter — a stream is glassed over, a waterfall turns into an ice sculpture and you can see for miles around when the trees are bare. So, get out and explore!
  • Riddles and jokes
    • A big tradition on our trips is trying to stump one another with riddles. Sharing good riddles and jokes are a great way to keep your mind distracted from the chilly temperatures!

Hydaway is staying open this winter to help you out with your adventures! We have all the equipment you need to have a comfortable and safe winter camping trip. Stop on by and ask us how we can help!