Cold Weather Camping
When the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop to way below comfortable, camping is probably the last thing on your mind. The words “cold weather” and “camping” may not seem to go together in a sentence; however, this new outdoorsy trend is all the rage among campers who crave the outdoors, no matter the cold or the snow.
Most campers who venture outdoors in the cold are seeking out places to snowshoe, ice climb, or cross-country ski. If you’re simply interested in camping out during the offseason, there are plenty of perks if camping and hiking are the only things on the planner! There are fewer crowds, for starters, so that means more privacy, and also fewer bugs! If you’re looking for something new to try this winter, then maybe cold weather camping is the right fit for you.
There are plenty of important things to consider before camping in the snow. To stay completely safe and make sure you are able to keep warm without risk of cold injuries, here are some basic tips that will make your camp as comfortable as possible:
Look for a natural wind block–such as a group of trees– and a natural water source. Do not camp on a slope, near hazardous trees, such as trees that hold heavy snow and ice that could fall and injure campers, or in an area that could be an avalanche risk, like a mountainous area with loose snow. Finally, be sure that you camp in an area that has easy landmarks to remember and in an area that has plenty of sun exposure so you’re warmed up once the sun begins to rise.
Food & Drink
Eat simple, hot meals and take short food breaks for energy. This will keep your body warmer. Also, do not forget to drink water and stay hydrated, even if you don’t feel as thirsty in the cold. Hot tea, hot chocolate, and soup are other things that will keep you warm and also hydrated.
Having the right gear for your camping trip will keep you warm and safe as you enjoy winter activities. Take these tips into consideration if you plan to try cold weather camping:
- There are tents specifically made for winter camping, known as 4-season tents, that are the most durable.
- Your pack needs to be larger, as winter gear and layers are bulkier than those packed during the summer.
- Pack as lightly as possible, though, so that you don’t waste energy hiking from campsite to campsite.
- When camping, you’ll need a cold-weather sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a backpacking stove.
- Get around easier by packing snowshoes for areas with deeper snow.
- If you are carrying heavier equipment, bring a sled so you can pull it along!
- Don’t forget to bring avalanche safety equipment if you’ll be camping near hills or mountains that put you at risk of an avalanche.
This video covers more detailed information to help you prepare for your cold-weather excursions!
Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to pick your destination. There are so many worthy locations around the world, and your research will provide a wealth of information, but here are a few special places to get you started:
There are many stunning places to camp in Oregon during the winter, the first of note being Mt. Hood National Forest. Campers are surrounded by breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains towering over densely forested valleys. Here, campers can get their fill of skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. There are also several campground districts where you can stay among other campers, and where amenities such as running water will be available.
Acadia National Park is a standout campsite complete with plenty of winter activities. The shores surrounding Acadia make ice fishing a popular winter activity. The sights in winter are stunning, but you have to work for it as campers require a permit on their way in and also need to hike about a mile into the campground during winter months.
If you’re an ice climber, then check out the upper peninsula of Michigan for some great camping and climbing spots , most notably, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Visitors come to see the stunning sandstone cliffs and waterfalls along 40 miles of coast bordering Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks is a beautiful (and cold!) place to come camp, but be aware that most campgrounds are closed during the winter months; plan ahead so there are no surprises!
With a snowy landscape as far as the eye can see, and dotted with dense forest and rolling hills, camping in winter in Quebec is considered a challenge, and any camper must come prepared. If you’re not 100% confident camping on your own in this kind of terrain, there are several campgrounds specifically for winter campers available. Staying here, campers can enjoy cross-country skiing, thru-hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, and wildlife watching.
When traveling in Finland, camp in Nuuksio National Park. The campgrounds there offer everything you need to face the below-zero temps in the wintry tundra. Campers can enjoy hiking, sightseeing, nature walks, and birding, as well as something else that is very common, yet very extreme, in Finland: winter swimming. This traditional Finnish winter activity happens when the temperature dips below 10 degrees Celsius, and you “warm” up by wading in ice cold water. If that’s too extreme, staying in your warm clothes and your warm tent is completely acceptable, too!
In Hungary, campers get the best of both worlds with beautiful campsites for winter camping and hot springs a hiking distance away. The hot springs are continually moving, with hot water moving up toward the surface as cold water moves downward, thus creating a steam cap above the lake’s surface so the lake doesn’t cool down. Wading and floating in these hot springs is said to be medically beneficial. If you’ve had a nice few days of winter activities, and are looking to warm up and relax, this is a great place to camp out!
Have you ever been cold weather camping, or have you been thinking about trying it? Have you been to any beautiful places in the winter and would visit again to camp out? Let us know, and don’t forget to Pin!