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.
- A lot of 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.
Pitching in winter
The wind chill in winter can really lower the temperature. Pitch wisely and use natural windbreaks such as tall hedges, walls, or trees.
Selecting a campsite that allows fires is recommended.
If you construct a tarp shelter you’ll have somewhere dry and a lot warmer than just sitting out in the open. Construct 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 just 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 there’s no reason why winter camping can’t be just as enjoyable (or more enjoyable) than summer camping.
- Winter Season Sleeping Bags.
Get a mummy bag with a hood. Don’t breath into your sleeping bag as that will build up moisture, making it damp.
If you already have a 3 season bag (one rated for spring, summer, and autumn) you may be able to get away with just buying a sleeping bag liner.
- Mats and Self-inflating Mat.
Still bring your air bed, but place the karrimat underneath for better ground insulation. Self-inflating mats are an alternative, and some come with an additional insulation layer.
- Additional duvet and blankets.
(Plus, you may want to sleep in your clothes, or at least keep a good base layer on).
- Hand warmers.
Can be useful for your feet too!
- Hot water bottle.
If you can boil water easily enough, sticking a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag will make it a lot 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.
- Wellies are probably sensible. You may want some welly socks as well.
Snowboots may also be needed.
- Upgrade your tent, if necessary.
If you have a lightweight summer tent, then getting a tent with stronger polls for the wind and better hydrostatic head would be sensible.
You could also take a leaf out of Glamping tents and get a canvas tent. The canvas can provide better insulation and some can have a stove, keeping the tent nice and warm, somewhere to dry clothes, warm water for washing, and cook and heat food of course.
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.
- Extra batteries for torches and headlights.
Wind-up versions are more environmentally friendly, but as it will be darker for longer, you’ll be constantly winding them up.
- Insulated mugs. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
- Upgrade your camping 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 for best performance you’ll need a liquid fuel stove. White Gas or Coleman fuels are best.
- Dry bags.
Things can get wet, if not in your tent, getting things into it. Consider putting clothes, sleeping bags, and other essential gear in a dry bag.
- Bring a folding shovel – it might snow!
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