Cold weather camping can be very enjoyable if you are outfitted correctly. There is nothing cozier than a camp fire on a late autumn evening or snuggling deep inside your sleeping bag when there is frost on your tent. Some diehard campers will eagerly trudge through snow to their favorite campsite with little concern for the temperature.
The first key to preparing for cold weather camping is to make sure that you stay dry. Being cold is one thing, being cold and wet can spell disaster. With this being said, there are certain items that you need in order to brave the great outdoors in cold weather.
First you need an appropriate tent. If you plan on camping during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing at night, you may wish to consider a four-season tent. These tents are made of thicker material that help block cold winds and are designed with an insulating membrane to keep warm air inside while remaining ventilated. Models range in price and can typically be found to accommodate 1-4 campers.
Secondly you need a good cold weather sleeping bag. This is a crucial piece of equipment and should be carefully selected. Sleeping bags are typically available in either rectangular or mummy shape. Temperature ratings also vary, with ratings available down to -30 degrees. Another important factor in selecting a bag is its fill. Most new bags on the market are made of a synthetic fill material and are actually very conducive to your body heat. They are able to re-circulate the heat that your body generates thereby creating a “thermos” in which the heat is trapped, keeping you warm. Really good bags will allow you to sleep in your shorts in below freezing temperatures!
Clothing should be chosen wisely when camping in cold temperatures. It is always best to dress in layers, thereby allowing you to add to or remove clothing as the temperatures and your activities change. A good base layer will allow you to use fewer top layers. If you are going to be hiking or engaging in other activities that may cause perspiration it is wise to choose a base layer that will wick away moisture. This will help to keep you dry and warm. Remember, moisture leads to hypothermia, which can spell disaster. Good footwear is also a must when camping in cold weather. Again, use layers when it comes to socks. A good cotton or nylon base sock should be followed by a wool sock. Keeping your feet warm and dry is crucial to surviving cold temperatures.
In addition to your tent, sleeping bag and clothing, you must be able to prepare and maintain a campfire. Be sure to pack a sufficient supply of waterproof matches and spend some time gathering kindling and firewood upon setting up camp. A good campfire is not only enjoyable but practical when camping in cold weather.
Be prepared to cook food by bringing along a camp stove. A hot meal will go a long way when it’s cold outside. A good coffee percolator is also a camping necessity.
By packing the appropriate gear you will ensure camping safety during cold weather. So get that camp fire roaring and enjoy!