Winter Camping

Winter Camping

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Nov 2011; updated May 2023.

Winter camping can be fun, and you may already have most of the gear.

Camping in winter need not be as bad as some might imagine. You just need to take a few additional steps.

Advantages of winter camping

  • You’ll find many places empty with a choice of pitch.
  • Many insects like midges and wasps won’t be around.
  • It can make that sense of adventure a little more intense.
  • Winter can be beautiful too.

Winter camping the easy way

So if the thought of getting your camping gear out in the cold and wet doesn’t appeal, you can always try Glamping.

Many Yurts come with wood-burning stoves so you can stay nice and warm. Just turn up and use it.

Pitching in winter

The wind chill in winter can lower the temperature. Pitch wisely and use natural windbreaks such as tall hedges, walls, or trees.

Selecting a campsite that allows fires is recommended.

Construct a tarp shelter you’ll have somewhere dry and a lot warmer than just sitting out in the open.

Build it around your tent entrance, and it will be dry when you come into your tent, so you don’t bring the wet in. You can hang wet clothes up to dry under the tarp shelter and leave muddy boots outside - though you might want to bring them in if it is going to freeze. Leaving a water bottle of warm water inside your boots, insulated with socks or a stuff sack, can prevent the boots from freezing.

Bring the right gear

People sleep in tents on polar expeditions. How? They bring the right gear. However, if you’re already summer camping, you probably have most of the equipment and need to boost a few areas.

The important thing is that everyone stays warm and dry, not cold, hungry and wet. If you bring the right gear for that, winter camping can’t be just as enjoyable (or more enjoyable) than summer camping.

Sleeping Bags

Get a 4-Season mummy bag with a hood. Don’t breathe into your sleeping bag, as that will build up moisture, dampening it.

Insulated Sleeping Mats

Some Self-inflating mats come with an additional insulation layer. Check their reported R-Value for how well they insulate.

Hand Warmers

Hand warmers can be useful for your feet, too!

Hot Water Bottles

If you can boil water easily enough, sticking a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag will make it much more inviting. Remember that sleeping bags keep you warm by insulating your body heat, so getting heat in the bag first means you’ll have a warm bed.

Tent Heaters

If you are connected to electricity, then bring a tent heater.


Your body burns more calories when cold, so you’ll need plenty of food, and don’t worry about the diet too much.

A nice warm stew with dumplings cooked in a Dutch Oven should keep you going. You could also make some Bannock over the fire to go with it (use wholemeal flour as that will release energy for longer). A low-carb snack before bed is a good idea.

Winter Gas Stove

You’ll need to avoid the usual butane-powered canister stoves. Some canisters, such as MSR Iso Pro or Jetboils Jet power, have a higher mix of Propane than Butane, but you’ll need a liquid fuel stove for best performance. White Gas or Coleman fuels are best.

Dry Bags

Things can get wet. Consider putting clothes, sleeping bags, and other essentials in a dry bag.

Folding Shovel

Bring a folding shovel – it might snow!

See Also