Winter Camping and Backpacking Tips
Some snow is not going to stop us from enjoying a good camping or backpacking weekend! But with winter, it’s important to take precautions and be smart about your choices of outdoor fun. It’s accurate to say there is more risk, so good preparation becomes more of a necessity, and less of a luxury. We have winter camping and backpacking tips that will help make your trip a success.
Follow our advice to avoid frostbite and have the best time out in the snow!
- Check weather forecast and be prepared to make changes in your plans. Pack extra clothing and food to cover for the unexpected.
- Call the local forest service if you are going into the back country. They will be able to give you advice on back country road conditions and avalanche danger if applicable.
- Plan on taking a four wheel drive vehicle if you will be on back country roads. Having a winch along is also a good idea.
- Use winter gear. A three season tent can work if the weather is just right, but a four season tent will give you a higher margin for error.
- You may be able to get away with a bag that isn’t as warm as it should be, but be prepared to wear your ski jacket to bed!
- Take an insulation sleeping pad! A significant amount of heat is lost in a sleeping bag because your body compresses the insulation you are laying on. A great choice for light weight insulated sleeping pads are some of the Exped pads we carry.
- Dress with layers: Layers in clothing help prevent hypothermia and frostbite. It’s important to always wear at least three layers; layer one should be a wicking fabric to move moisture away from your skin; layer two should be an insulating fabric that will insulate even if it gets wet (like wool); and layer three should be your snow jacket.
- Go out of your way to stay dry. Dry clothes are warm clothes…or in a pinch at least warmer clothes.
- Avoid drinking alcohol to warm you up as this will keep you from realizing when you’re actually getting cold. Cigarette smoking cann also affect negatively on blood circulation.
- Before setting up camp, stomp down the snow and use forest debris to insulate the footprint of your tent.
- Take extra matches and fire starting material in a zip lock bag (cotton balls and vaseline work well as a fire starter).
- Hand warmers help warm your feet, keep your sleeping bag warm, and even warm your hands!