With the days getting shorter and nights becoming colder, winter approaches all with a sense of gloom. Frigid temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions make winters a time to be indoors. However, for people with a perpetual adventurous streak, the season of extreme temperatures will not come in the way of some outdoor fun. And what better than camping in winters.
Winter camping comes with its own set of challenges, but if you wanted things easy you’d probably snuggle up in bed with a hot cup of cocoa, right? While camping, in general, requires some amount of preparation, winter camping demands meticulous planning and attention to detail. You do not want to be underprepared when camping out in freezing temperatures. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a list of must-haves on your winter campout. These things will help you make the most of your time on the winter camping trail.
Yes, that’s a no brainer. But the most common of all winter camping problems is ‘not getting warm enough’. So make sure you pack in those layers. While camping in snowbound areas make sure to layer the clothes appropriately. Any seasoned camper will tell you to “stay warm, and not get warm”, meaning wear clothes in such a way that you’re always comfortable without the need for a campfire or a hot water bottle.
As the base layer of your clothing, choose from quick-drying fabrics like polyester or wool. Since this layer will be in direct contact with your skin, it is essential to keep it dry at all times. Also, keep in mind the breathability of the fabric you choose as this can affect the time it takes for your perspiration to dry.
The middle layer of clothing will retain your body heat from escaping. To prevent this from happening opt for heavier fleece jackets or parkas. For your lower body, warm fleece pants are a good, comfortable option. For the outermost layer choose materials which are water repellant, this will protect you in case of snow, sleet or rain. Also, do not forget a good woollen beanie for your head, a cap that covers your ears at all times is a perfect choice, some gloves to keep your fingers warm and woollen socks to prevent your toes from freezing.
Another point that novice campers might overlook. In life-threatening situations (of which there will be plenty during winter camping) the right gear will make the difference. Starting with the most crucial piece of equipment that you will carry – the Tent. For alpine conditions with strong winds and snow, it is recommended to carry an all season tent. These tents are made using thicker fabric that can withstand strong winds and come with stronger poles to bear the lashing in case of whiteouts.
When you’re ready to call it a day in that tent, you will need a warm and snug sleeping bag to keep the chill away. Choose a sleeping bag with the right temperature rating. A temperature rating will tell you the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep a person warm. For a campout in peak winters with heavy snow, a sleeping bag with a rating of -9 C or lower should be a must. For extra warmth supplement your sleeping bag with a liner and carry a sleeping pad for more comfort.
To carry all that gear you will require a sturdy backpack. Winter camping calls for a bigger backpack due to the bulky nature of the things you will be carrying. For campers carrying skis or snowboards ensure to have proper securing points in the backpack, this will keep your hands free during the hike. A 65-70 litre backpack will accommodate all your supplies and equipment easily.
It’s likely you will require either of these for your winter camping trip. For people who ski or snowboard, tackling deep snow will not be an issue. For non-skiers and boarders, snowshoes is the safest option. Snowshoes take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it your hike through the snow will become effortless.
A must-have for all your camping trips. A sharp camping knife will come handy when you need to collect tinder for your campfire or while opening a bottle or a can. A small sized knife with its sheath can be easily clipped onto your trousers for easy accessibility.
You portable stove will become the most useful piece of equipment on your winter camping trip. Use it to melt water for drinking and heating food. You will realise the importance of the stove early in the morning when you make yourself that hot cup of coffee. Use a small and lightweight liquid fuel stove that can fit easily inside your backpack.
A winter camping trip has all the things that adventure lovers need, the great outdoors, challenging weather conditions and a chance to see nature up close. Just keep the above mentioned things in mind along with other essentials like food supplies, water and maps to make the most of your camping time.