Use these cold weather winter 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.

cold-weather-camping-fun-and-toasty- image of the inside of a tent with gear and snow on the ground

Winter Camping Tips and Hacks For The Winter Campers

For anyone who loves camping and doesn’t mind a little cold weather, use these cold weather winter 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 they need to be viewed through the filter of the possibility of cold weather.

2. Plan your trip

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Printable Happier Camper Camping Bundle featuring Camping Planner, Kids activity pack, and Ultimate camping companion eBook.

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 and save everyone from hypothermia. If you know you’re expecting a lot of snow (not an avalanche), 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 in the middle of the night.
  • 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!

cold-weather-camping image of a tent in the snow

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 temps, and wet snow out of your tent so you can stay warmer!

cold-weather-camping image of a campsite in the snow with two campers and their gear around a tent

5. Layer your socks to keep your feet toasty, blister, and frostbite free in the cold

The key to keeping feet warm is to use layers- the right kind of base layers. Keep feet extremities extra warm with a pair of sock liners that is merino wool made. These are a 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!

15 Cold Weather Camping Tips To Stay Cozy - sock liners to stay warm

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 devices 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, sleeping pads, cell foam pad, sleeping bag liner, 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?

cold-weather-camping image of campers in the snow playing team-builder games

8. Bring enough (of the right) cold-weather clothing on your camping trip

Be prepared for any weather. You may have snow or storm 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 and won’t trap heat. When it comes to cold weather, it’s a misconception that clothing should be tight against the body.
  • Moisture-wicking is 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 gloves and boots and keep the 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. Avoid cotton!

cold-weather-camping image of a fleece vest on the grass

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 slope and 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 and body heat.

11. Fill a bottle with warm water for sleeping

Stay extra toasty at night with this cheap trick: Put a hot water bottle (not boiling water) or an 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.

cold-weather-camping image of feet in socks holding a water bottle between them

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 snow wall 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 stoves

Knowing how to make your own portable camp stoves from soda cans will certainly come in handy. It never hurts to have a backup in case one stove fails.

cold-weather-camping image of a beer can used to create a campfire
Beverage Can Stove from Ehow

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!

cold-weather-camping-tips image of a gloved hand holding kindling shavings created from using a pencil sharpener on a stick with the background of snow; adjacent image of a sleeping back in a tent next to a lantern with foam tiles lining the tent floor

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.

  1. Dig trenches in the snow to create a rectangle in the middle, and create “seats” on either side.
  2. Pitch a tent over the top and you’ve got the perfect place to have meals.
  3. If you put a stove in there, heavily vent the tent.
cold-weather-camping image of a campfire, lantern, a plate with food, a tin mug, and a jar of food on the sand
Beach Bonfire from What Katie Ate

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!

cold-weather-camping image of a child in a jacket cutting an orange on a cutting board at a campsite picnic table
Oranges & Cinnamon Buns from Truly Simple

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.

cold-weather-camping image collage of hiking socks, a camper in a tent on the snow lacing up boots, and DIY beer can camp stoves with the words "15 Ways to Make Winter Camping Fun &  Cozy - Even in the Snow!"

Which of these cozy winter camping tips do you like the most? Mine is the camping food list!

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