The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to try your hand at Cold Camping or Hot Tent Camping.
Cold Camping is exactly what it sounds like: you sleep in either a tent or hammock or you can even use a simple tarp or lean-to to shelter yourself from any precipitation overnight.
Hot Tent Camping is also exactly as described. For this, you will need a specialized tent (we happen to make a great one here that works well with our endcover) with a transportable wood stove. The cost of the added benefit of Hot Tent Camping is obviously having extra weight to lug around. However, you can easily do this by renting a polk sled and pulling it on cross country skis, snowshoes, or if you’re really lucky, dogsled.
No matter your choice, here are a few Winter camping hacks that will help keep you warm in the cold:
- Double-stuff your sleeping bags. This is a great tip for those with multiple warm-season camping bags. Depending on the temperatures you’ll be Winter camping in, you can easily stuff a 20-degree bag into a 0-degree bag to ensure you’ll stay toasty at night. Make sure you use a synthetic bag on the outside to stop any moisture from entering your bag.
- Make a snuggle bottle. This easy hack is one that’ll blow your mind. To warm up your sleeping bag at night, and have drinkable water in the morning, after dinner, boil some water over your fire and fill your heat-tolerant water bottle like this one up with the boiling water. Then, throw it in your sleeping bag before you get in. It’ll keep your body warm and won’t be frozen in the morning when you need a swig. You can also slip it into your boots in the morning, warming them up before you put your feet in.
- Ditch the air mattresses. While these comfy and lightweight sleeping pads filled with air might be great for all other seasons, cold air will cool your body temperature down quicker. So ditch it and either use snow as insulation or get a closed-cell foam pad to keep your body warm. Doubling up wouldn’t hurt either.
- Dress appropriately. We know this probably goes without saying however, many people think that you want as many layers as possible on your person while Winter camping. This is not always the case. Simply put, Winter camping requires a lot of work, which means if your body is active and you have too many layers on, you will sweat. Sweat is a deadly threat when Winter camping because if you’re not careful, it could freeze and cool your core body temperature down too quickly, causing hypothermia. To prevent this, we recommend adding and removing layers as your body heat rises with camp chores.
Here’s a quick list of what layers to bring:
- A moisture-wicking base layer, top and bottom
- A warm fuzzy mid-layer like down or fleece, top and bottom
- A waterPROOF outer layer that blocks the wind and elements, top and bottom
- A smooth, thin liner sock worn underneath a hiking or wool sock
- Mountaineering socks for sleeping in so your other socks can dry out
- Plastic baggies to wear over your socks, inside your boots for keeping your feet dry and warm (dump out the sweat at night and place in boots for the morning)
- A warm hat, a buff or face covering, liner gloves underneath our choppers with chopper liners
- Pair of sunglasses, sun reflects on snow and can damage eyes
- Bunny boots or other double-layered waterproof boots
- Gaiters to keep snow out of your boots
Endless Summer Camping
If Winter camping isn’t for you, one way around this is by chasing Summer around the country to find a spot where you can set up camp without the learning curve. One of our favorite places to explore is the Southwest of the United States.
Pictured here is a shot from one of the five National Parks in Utah: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and the notorious Zion. With temperate climes during the day and chillier desert nights, you may still need an extra layer or two but exploring these awesome National Treasures is fantastic during the “off” season when guest attendance is lower.
Much like Fall camping, Spring camping is a great shoulder season where the bugs aren’t out yet and visitors in State and National Parks are at a minimum. However, the one thing to think about here is cold water and moisture. After all, April showers bring May flowers, so you’ll want to make sure you pack rain protection for your body and your camping gear as hypothermia can still be a threat even in the Spring.
If you plan a paddle trip, you’ll want to take extra care as water temperatures haven’t had the chance to rise yet and can easily take a fun camping trip and transform it into a harrowing tale with the tip of a canoe. Look at drysuits if you’re contemplating an early Spring camping trip over bodies of water.
You can also use the other tips from the Fall and Winter camping sections to keep you warm—once you’ve successfully cold camped during the Winter, you’ll know just how to keep your body warm no matter the season or weather.
While we wave goodbye to our Summer camping trips right now, we know they’ll be back around next year. One thing is for sure, when you camp in any other season, Summer camping will seem like a complete breeze to you. You’ll have less layers to wear, less gear to pack, which will ultimately make you want to challenge yourself more and push Summer camping to the limits as well.
If you’re ready to take the next step in Summer camping, we recommend a backpacking or bikepacking trip deep into the woods. There’s nothing quite like trekking through wild woods with nothing but what you can carry on your back and making it out refreshed, recharged, and ready for your next adventure.
Be sure to check out all of our awesome packs and gear for your camping trip no matter the season. Our camping gear is not only built with a lifetime guarantee but to last an actual lifetime of adventure-seeking use.