Cold weather camping can be incredibly fun, but without the right gear it can quickly turn into a frigid nightmare. No need to cancel your snow camping adventure, all you need is the right cold weather camping gear, such as a properly insulated tent and sleeping bag. Did you know they make tents complete with wood-burning stoves and chimneys? Read on to learn more about that, as well as important gear you need to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime camping exploration… regardless how low the thermostat dips.
1. A Cold Weather Tent
Every additional inch of snow or drop in temperature makes camping outside more dangerous, and your lightweight summer tent is not going to cut it in the cold. The most important thing you can invest in for cold weather camping is a warm shelter, aka a heavily insulated tent. Your tent is home base while you’re out there and can literally make the difference between staying warm and freezing to death, so choose wisely.
There are different options to pick from, starting with more basic models and moving to more advanced models. All are made with the same purpose: to keep you warm. Some models are large enough to include a wood-burning stove with chimney. You probably don’t want to lug something this cumbersome if you are backpacking to your campsite, but there are lightweight packable winter tents too, albeit they don’t include chimneys and wood-burning stoves.
What are the Best Cold Weather Tents? Some of the best cold weather tents that come highly recommended include:
2. A Very Warm Sleeping Bag + Liner + Pad
Invest in a sleeping bag approved for use in at least 10°F cooler than you expect the absolute coldest temperature to reach. Winter-ready sleeping bags are heavily insulated. Goose down is the most popular form of insulation, and while traditionally it can’t get wet without losing its insulating qualities, there are new moisture-resistant down sleeping bags available.
Cold weather sleeping bags come with draft tubes located behind zippers and draft collars situated above the shoulders. Plus, they come with hoods to help trap in heat during the night.
Using a sleeping bag liner makes it 8° to 15° F warmer in your sleeping bag. Plus, it helps reduce wear and tear on your bag and keeps it cleaner.
Don’t forget a sleeping pad for extra insulation and comfort. 2 full-length pads are ideal for cold weather camping, keeping you farther away from the ice-cold ground. Sleeping pads are rated 1.0 to 8.0 R-value. The higher the R-value, the more insulating qualities and the warmer you’ll stay.
3. Cold Weather Camping Clothes
Layers are essential for cold weather camping, that way you can pack on the clothing in the morning and then slowly shed (or add) layers as needed throughout the day. Some of the most important clothing items to pack include:
- A windproof hat; heat escapes through your head so wear a comfy cold weather hat to help trap heat. As the classic mountaineering saying goes, “If your feet are cold, put on a hat.”
- Gloves and mittens keep your hands warm and dry. Take more than one pair so you have a replacement when/if the first pair gets wet.
- Thick socks keep your feet warm, but don’t forget to pack plenty of extras in case they get wet.
- Boots are essential to dry feet while helping you navigate everything from slick icy terrain to thick snow. In some cases, hiking boots can do the trick but investing in a pair of insulated and waterproof winter or mountaineering boots could change your life.
- Waterproof/breathable gaiters are your best friend in deep thick snow because they keep moisture and snow out of your boots.
- Glasses and goggles shield your eyes from the sun and wind. There are different tints available based on weather conditions.
4. The Rooftop Cargo Bag
You have even more gear to pack for cold weather camping vs. summer camping, which means you’re going to need additional storage space. No need to invest in a larger vehicle, the durable Rooftop Cargo Bag serves as the ideal option. It fits on top of your vehicle and offers an additional 15 cubic feet of storage space. Plus, since it’s waterproof, it’ll protect your gear from just about anything you encounter in the great outdoors.
5. Other Essentials for Cold Weather Camping
- Sun protection—just because you’re expecting cold weather doesn’t mean there’s no risk of sunburn.
- Sleds or snow gear
- Extra food + water
- Repair kit with tools
- Fire making tools (it’s more difficult to make fire when the ground and available fire-making materials are moist)
- Flashlight + extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Chemical heating pads to quickly warm up your hands and feet