Winter Camping Tips

Winter is a great time for camping. In winter, lakes and rivers get frozen, and trees get bare. When it snows, nature wears a beautiful look. For most people, camping in the snow is an amazing experience.

But, having the right gear is the key to a fulfilling camping trip in winter. Whether you are car camping or snowshoeing, you have to know what to take with you. In this post, we will provide some important winter camping tips.

Check the weather forecast

If you have a plan to make a winter camping trip, you must check the weather forecast ahead of time. You will be able to avoid a lot of problems if you know what type of weather you can expect when you are on the spot.

winter camping tips

Should you expect a storm? Will there be any sudden change in the weather? Make sure you are well-prepared, because having a camping trip in winter may not be a happy experience for you if there is a blizzard in your planned destination.

Choose the campsite wisely

It is not easy to find a good winter campsite. As a rule of thumb, you should choose a place that provides shelter from elements. Make sure you settle at a place which is not exposed to gushing wind.

Do not camp on the top or bottom of a hill. You will enjoy your campsite more if you camp on a flat site. Also, remember that loose snow does not insulate heat as effectively as packed snow. Keep the tent well-staked down.

Wear a fireproof shell

You will need to make fires for a host of reasons. When you are making a campfire, make sure that your clothing does not catch fire. Fire-resistant cloths are available on the market, and you can purchase them.

Do not wear down jackets, because they are awful. Do not consider it a waste of time to wear a fireproof shell, because it can save your time in a difficult situation.

Pack essential equipment

To make your winter camping comfortable, make sure you take the right equipment. Know the expected temperature of your destination, and use a sleeping bag designed for the temperature. If it is extremely cold, you can use a down air mattress or an extra foam pad. Of course, the most important part is your winterized tent.

For melting snow, you will need an extra stove. So, if you are snow camping, make sure you bring one along. Do not forget to pack some extra fuel for the stove as well. Check out our winter camping essentials for more info.

what to wear camping

Before going to bed, warm your sleeping bag

To warm your cold sleeping bag with your body heat, you will need some time. To get cozy at night, consider pre-warming your bag. Here is a great way to pre-warm your sleeping bag. Keep some hot water in a watertight container and keep the container sealed.

Do not use a leaky bottle because it can be disastrous. If you keep the container in your sleeping bag for just 15-20 minutes, the sleeping bag will get warm. Because of the heat, you will find it easy to get into the sleeping bag.

Bring enough firewood

It will not be easy to find firewood on the camping site in winter. Even if you find some, the wood will be too wet to burn. But you need plenty of firewood when you are camping in winter. Campfire will help you keep warm at night, and you will enjoy cooking outside.

So, make sure you bring a lot of firewood on the camping site. Running out of firewood will be a really bad experience for you.  Do not forget to bring matches and keep them in a moisture-proof container.

Pack some books

Nights in winter are long, and you may feel bored when you are camping. When you are in your sleeping bag, you can read something. Yes, you are going to camp to enjoy the silence, but that silence may sometimes upset you.

You may also bring a computer and watch a movie. A great book or a great movie can make your winter nights more enjoyable.

Use those stakes

You may need to stake out your tent if there is snow. You can easily make deadmen out of fallen trees, sticks, stuff sacks, snowshoes, ice axes, poles or something else. You will face some problems if your tent is poorly staked out.

If there is no forecast of frozen conditions, you can skip them. But you can easily find tent stakes made of steel, titanium or aluminum.

Choose the right sleeping pad  

Co-op Flash Insulated

Make sure you sleep on a good sleeping pad. If you sleep on a cold surface, your body loses heat, which is bad for health. You have to make sure your sleeping pad is thick enough. Your pad should have an r-value of at least four.

And underneath the pad, use a closed-cell foam pad. You can stuff extra clothing if your pad is not thick enough. You can consider wearing your jacket when you are getting into your sleeping bag.

Sleep with your boots

When choosing boots for your winter camping, make sure you choose boots with removable liners. You can keep the liners warm if you put them in your sleeping bag.

When it comes to single-layer boots, use a waterproof stuff sack to store them. If your boots are frozen, you may have morning hypothermia. If you sleep with your boots on, you will not have this problem.

Cowboy coffee

What is the best part of a camping trip in winter? Fireside gossiping at nights may be. But, of course, a cold morning is not as enjoyable. For many people, a cup of hot coffee is the motivation behind getting out of the sleeping bag.

For “cowboy coffee”, you just need hot water and some grounds. The process of making this coffee is very easy. Have a cup of coffee and you will feel good about everything. You can learn how to make cowboy coffee here.

make campfire coffee

Strategic urination

When you are camping in winter, it can be a matter of concern. There is something important to learn about urination in cold weather. Drink a lot of water, but when you need to respond to the call of nature, respond quickly. If you do not urinate within a short time, your body will use a lot of energy trying to heat the urine inside your body.

So, consider keeping an extra bottle. Use it when you need to pee at dead of night. Mark the bottle so that you do not confuse the bottle with other bottles. You will not need to go into the cold if you have an extra bottle. Camping guides do not usually include it in their winter camping tips. But when you are camping on a cold winter night, an extra bottle can really help you.

Stay dry

When it comes to winter camping, you must do something to stay dry. Water is a better heat conductor than air. That is why wet cloths can quickly lower the temperature of your body. Sometimes, even if you just work up a sweat, it can cool you down.

When you are on a winter camping trip, you should try to limit perspiration. Make sure your feet are not wet. When you trudge through the snow, gaiters and waterproof boots are a must. You should take enough clothes because running out of clothes will be a really bad experience for you.

Another great way to keep dry while just hanging out at camp is to sit in a hammock rather than on the ground. Keeping yourself out of the snow will go a long way and help keep you dry.

Boil the snow

You do not need to bring your water filter. Chemical filters may not work well when you are in cold weather. And if you try to use a mechanical filter, it may crack. Boiling your water is the best thing you can do in this situation.

Ultimate camping checklist downloadable PDF

You will have to melt snow, so consider boiling your water. Remember, fresh snow is not sterile. Snowflakes contain bacteria and viruses. Boil the snow and the water will be drinkable.

Do not burrow deep into your bag

Once you have got into your sleeping bag, you should breathe through a blowhole. And if you breathe inside your sleeping bag, it will get trapped inside. You are more likely to face this problem if you are using a down sleeping bag.

Once your sleeping bag gets wet, it will take a lot of time to dry. And that will not be good for your adventure. You can shake your bag to achieve maximum fluffiness. Do what it takes to prevent condensation.

Fight condensation

In winter, you will have fight condensation if you camp for more than a week. You can use a VBL for your sleeping bag. Your sleeping bag has an upper layer and a lower layer. Within the upper layer, warm air comes in contact with freezing air.

Over time, you will notice that your sleeping bag has become frozen. A vapor-barrier-liner can also help you fight condensation. Yes, you will find it a bit less comfortable to sleep in your sleeping bag, but over time, you will also get used to it.

Making a fire

To make a fire, you will need some essential things such as wood, fire starter, an extra lighter, and paper. During the winter, the weather will get extremely cold, so you have to bring wood before the weather gets very cold. While some parks sell wood, others do not.

That is why you have to know about the rules of the place you choose.  There may be a long distance between your campsite and the trailhead. In such a case, a sled can greatly help you drag in your supplies.

Camping on high-wind nights

Tent placed behind wind break for calmer evening

If you are camping on a high-wind night, sleeping in shifts is a great idea. But every few hours, you will need someone to check the tent’s rigging. If you do not tighten the line within a short time, you will find it very hard to control the damage to the structure.

If the surface area is not gusty, wind and cold air will not push against the rigging. If there is wind in the terrain, you should choose a tent that has a high wind rating.

Take some high-calorie midnight snack

If you wake up at midnight, get some high-calorie midnight snack. It will fuel your engine. To function in cold weather, you need high-calorie food. Choose foods rich in fats, sugars, and carbohydrates. You should eat closer to bedtime if your food is rich in fat.

If you are looking for some good winter camping tips, this is one of the best tips for you.  The human body can metabolize protein more quickly. It takes a pretty long time to metabolize protein. So, calorie-dense foods such as cheese, chocolate, and nuts are good for your body if you are camping in winter.

Wipe out morning frost from your tent

You will notice condensed water vapor on the inner walls of your tent. Your gear will be soaked when the ice melts. Keep your gear covered. Before the frost melts, sweep it with a tent brush.

If conditions permit, dry out your gear every day. You may not stay in your tent during the day. In that case, make sure you invert your tent and spread it to remove moisture.


What is the best way to heat a tent?
Use a sleeping bag rated for zero degree weather. Sleep on a sleeping pad. Use a mylar thermal blanket across the top of the inside of your tent. Use a Coleman Catalytic Heater before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning.

How do you keep food from freezing in winter camping?
To keep your water from freezing overnight store the thermos inside your sleeping bag or place it outside in a snow bank upside down so if it does begin to freeze the ice will be at the bottom of the container. The snow should insulate it enough to keep it from freezing solid however.

Is there a safe way to heat a tent?
Placing a small heater inside the tent is the most obvious way to get it warm. Electric heaters are the safest option but they do require electric hookups which are often only available at private campgrounds.

How cold is too cold for tent camping?
There is no real set number. It simply depends on the gear being used and the skill of the camper. Higher skilled campers can camp with little difficult in feet of snow and temperatures well below freezing.

Is it safe to use a propane heater in a tent?
Propane heaters can produce CO and are not the safest choice for heating a tent. Additionally, they produce a flame which is another bad tent choice.

Is it safe to use an electric heater in a tent?
While not recommended, many people have safely used heaters in the tent. Perhaps one of the best options is the oil-heated type of steel heaters. They have no exposed flame and just rely on warming oil to provide radiant heat.

Can you use a kerosene heater in a tent?
A kerosene heater will produce CO or Carbon Monoxide, a deadly gas. In the event that the unit was operating incorrectly and there was inadequate ventilation, suffocation could occur.

Is it warmer to sleep with clothes on or off in a sleeping bag?
Sleeping with clothes on will result in a warmer night due to the additional layers of insulation provided by your clothing.