Use these cold weather camping tips to help you stay nice and toasty on your next winter camping trip!
When you love doing something, you don’t necessarily want to limit doing it to just one part of the year, right? Take camping for example. Camping doesn’t need to just be reserved for the spring and summer. It can be enjoyed all winter long with the right preparation and tips. In fact, winter camping brings solace and solitude…you’ll have the entire campground to yourselves! It’s a completely different (and amazing) experience from what you get during the spring and summer.
Winter Weather Camping Hacks To Make Your Campsite Toasty
For anyone who loves camping and doesn’t mind a little cold weather, use these cold weather camping tips to help you enjoy doing what you love all year long!
1. All Camping Gear is Not Created for Equal Temperature
You can’t go camping in the winter without the right equipment. Winter camping is very different than camping during other times during the year. There are things you have to prepare for that you don’t need to in the spring, summer, or fall months! The first step is realizing that when you are looking at the rest of the tips on this list that they need to be viewed through the filter of the possibility of cold weather.
2. Plan your trip
When it comes to winter camping, the worst thing is NOT just forgetting something. Promise. Been there. Done that. Bringing the right things along is even more important than ever. The $7 spent on the Camping planner is well worth it!! Your safety is worth it!!
3. Choose the right tent for your winter campsite
This one seems obvious, right? But not all tents are the same.
- Choose a tent that’s appropriate for the weather conditions. If you know you’re expecting a lot of snow, for example, choose a tent with steep walls that will prevent snow accumulation on the roof and at the tent door.
- Consider an insulated or multi-person tent for warmth.
- Find out if your tent is double-walled to protect you against harsh winter winds. Most tents are UV-resistant and waterproof, but not all of them have this extra feature!
4. Use the snow as a winter camping tool
Winter camping has a great resource- snow! Just like any experienced outdoorsman will know, use your environment, and leave things exactly as they were before you arrived.
- Pack down the snow under your tent. Not only will this make the tent floor more comfortable, but you can create a snowbank to cut out some of the wind, too
- Create a vestibule to take your shoes off. Dig a pit in front of your tent so you can sit down and take your snow-covered shoes off before entering. This helps keep cold, wet snow out of your tent so you can stay warmer!
5. Layer your socks to keep feet toasty and blister-free in the cold
The key to keeping feet warm is to use layers- the right kind of layers. Keep feet extra warm with a pair of sock liners. These are must-have for cold-weather camping as they are designed to be moisture-wicking, which is essential when trekking in the cold and snow. Put them on before you put on hiking socks, which are thicker socks that are meant to be more cushioning and insulating than regular socks.
Get the liners here!
6. Put handwarmers in your jacket pockets to warm up cold hands
Handwarmers are a great item to have on you at all times when you’re cold-weather camping. They are lightweight and easy to stow-away on a hike. There are different options for all types of campers!
- Electric handwarmers are a safe choice but you’ll have to think ahead if you need to recharge them.
- Air-activated warmers come in different sizes so you can use them for your body and feet as well! They also tend to come in multipacks and are usually disposable.
- Gel snap-activated handwarmers come in fun shapes and colors. I find them to be the most camper-friendly, as they are reset by boiling them in water for a few minutes!
7. Tarps are a must-have gear for winter camping!
You just can’t camp in the winter without a few tarps. Use them to sit on snow, add extra shelter, waterproof the bottom of your tent, and so much more. You should look for a few things when shopping for a tarp and thinking about winter camping-
- Is it waterproof?
- Is it UV resistant?
- If you’re using it under a tent, is it big enough?
- Is it light enough to pack if you’re hiking to your campsite?
8. Bring enough (of the right) cold-weather clothing on your camping trip
Be prepared for any weather. You may have snow one day and mild weather a few days later.
- Dress in layers so you can adjust as needed!
- You want loose layers so that heat created by your body temperature can create air-pockets to keep you warm. When it comes to cold weather, it’s a misconception that clothing should be tight against the body.
- Moisture wicking in also a really great feature to look for as well, as warm bodies sweat a lot in extreme cold.
- Pants and shirts with cuffs not only keep out bugs during hikes but also fit into snow boots and keep heat on the body.
- Fabrics like fleece, wool, and waffle (or honeycomb) fabric are great at holding onto heat, making them great for winter camping.
9. Open the vent on your camping tent in the winter
Vent your tent even in winter… even if it’s freezing. So simple, but it makes a huge difference. If you don’t, you’ll wake up to condensation inside your tent. And who wants to be wet when it’s already freezing out?
10. Add extra insulation from the cold with foam tiles
You know those colorful foam tiles that you probably have in your kid’s room? They are great for camping in the cold! Just put them down on the floor of your tent to add an extra layer of insulation between you and the cold ground. Foam tiles in your tent are a cheap way to drastically increase the comfort factor.
11. Fill a bottle with warm water for sleeping
Stay extra toasty at night with this cheap trick: Put hot (not boiling) water in a water bottle or old 2-liter bottle. Place it between your feet in your sleeping bag to keep you warm all night long. You should wrap the bottle in a thin blanket if you don’t wear socks when you sleep, though.
It’s super-easy, cheap, and works wonders. If you keep the bottle under the covers with you at night it will still be warm in the morning!
12. Dry those wet socks
If your socks get wet with snow, pin them to your backpack or hang them up to let them dry out… but not if temperatures are freezing! If it’s freezing out, put them in your sleeping bag with you at night. It goes without saying, of course, that you should bring along a couple of extra pairs to slip into while your others dry.
13. Turn soda cans into a portable winter camping stove
Knowing how to make your own portable camp stove from soda cans will certainly come in handy. It never hurts to have a backup in case one stove fails.
For a handy camping stove that’s lightweight, portable and easy to make, try a beverage can stove. Made of two aluminum soda cans, they weigh almost nothing, yet can generate enough heat to boil water.
14. Make tinder with a pencil sharpener
Create tinder in a snap by bringing along your handy dandy pencil sharpener. All you need to do once you’re at your campsite is find a few sticks and you’re ready to go! It’s quick, easy, effective, and cheap. Bring along a few of them so the other happy campers can help!
Enjoy Hot Meals by the Campfire
15. Stay warm with fancy s’mores
One of the best parts of winter camping is gathering around the fire for a warm treat. The classic camping dessert, s’mores, can be made even more fun when you try some of these creative combinations!
- Oreos + Marshmallows
- Keebler’s Fudge Stripes + Marshmallows
- Honey Graham Crackers + Marshmallows + Caramel Squares
- Honey Graham Crackers + Marshmallows + Reese’s Cups
- Chocolate Graham Crackers + Marshmallows + White Chocolate Bar
- Cinnamon Graham Crackers + Marshmallows + Heath Toffee Bar
16. Make a winter camping dining area
Set up the perfect outdoor kitchen/dining area! The fire is always the place everyone gathers at the campsite, so make it a warm, enjoyable place to be.
- Dig trenches in the snow to create a rectangle in the middle, and create “seats” on either side.
- Pitch a tent over the top and you’ve got the perfect place to have meals.
- If you put a stove in there, heavily vent the tent.
17. Reuse orange peels to cook
Have a hot, sweet breakfast of oranges and cinnamon buns (the refrigerated kind). Just scoop out the oranges, and cook the cinnamon buns in the orange peels over the stove or campfire. This a genius recipe to cook up that adds a refreshing twist to this traditional breakfast pastry. This is a great idea for your next winter camping trip because you don’t have to pack extra cooking tools!
We hope you found some new and helpful ideas on this list! Use these 15 cold weather camping hacks to make winter camping enjoyable so you can do that which you love all year long.