29 Winter Camping Tips You Need to Know (2023)

Much likehikingduring the winter months, winter camping can be a highly satisfying and enjoyable way to spend time inthe wilderness. Aside from the beauty of frosty white scenery and untouched landscapes, you usually get to enjoy the fresh, invigorating winter air all to yourself.

But when daylight hours are limited and the weather is more often than not throwing freezing wind and sideways snow in your face, it can be all too easy to make excuses for not getting out there. If you’re not prepared, or don’t know what you’re doing, winter camping can easily turn into an exercise of survival rather than enjoyment. So check out our winter camping tips to get you ready to embrace the frozen forests of your own wilderness winter wonderland.

Dress right for winter camping

Staying warm may seem like a simple task, but it’s not just all about wearing the right clothing. There are also some surprising and easy ways in which you can avoid getting cold that you may not have thought of. Read our tips on how to stay warm when camping to minimise the chance of feeling like you’ll never warm up again. When it comes to clothing, there are a few key things to remember:

1Wear layers

It may seem like overkill, but wearing multiple layers of extreme cold weather gear will keep you super cosy and enable you to adjust your temperature easily if you are moving around a lot.

2Avoid sweating too much

Although moving around is great to keep your body temperature up, if you exert yourself too much then excess sweat, once cooled, can increases the risk of hyperthermia. To help with this, wear merino base layers to wick away excess moisture from your skin, and make sure your jacket and pants have zippered vents that you can open up before you start to sweat.

3Wear eye protection

If you are in snowy conditions then wearing sunglasses or ski goggles is super important to minimise the risk of snow blindness. Even if there isn’t snow on the ground, it’s easy to forget eye protection in the winter when the sun is shining. So add them to your winter camping checklist.

4Stop the wind

The temperature on the thermometer counts for very little if the wind is blowing. And the harder it blows, the colder the wind chill factor. So make sure your outer layers are fully windproof with no gaps for the freezing breeze to creep in.

29 Winter Camping Tips You Need to Know (1)

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Use the right winter camping gear

Although some of your 3 season camping gear will be fine in cold conditions, some of it simply won’t function properly or won’t be warm enough. When it comes to the warmth of your sleeping gear, it will help to have a good idea of what sort of temperatures you are likely to be living in, and then you can work from there.

5Use a steep sided tent

Most 3 season tents will hold up fine in moderate winter conditions, but a good 4 season tent will be much stronger in high winds, and the steep sides of cold weather camping tents will deal with snow build up much better than a 3 season tent.

6Be warm from the ground up

A good sleeping bag just won’t be good enough if you can’t keep the cold out from below you. Your sleeping pad should have a high R-value of 5 or more, and if it’s super cold then placing a closed-cell foam pad underneath it will also help.

7Use a down sleeping bag

Down is the best insulator, so long as it stays dry. When checking the temperature rating of your winter sleeping bag, bear in mind that the ‘extreme rating’ is the lowest temperature at which an adult female will be kept alive. This is different to the ‘comfort rating’, and won’t necessarily protect against hypothermia and frostbite.

8Line your sleeping bag

Condensation within your sleeping bag can become a problem, especially if you sleep with your head inside your bag. Once the excess moisture from your body heat gets into your sleeping bag, there is a danger that it will freeze. To help prevent this, use a vapour barrier sleeping bag liner to prevent the moisture from reaching the insulation of your sleeping bag. Be sure to wear wicking layers to help minimise moisture build up on your body.

9Sit on your camping pillow

A well insulated camping pillow will help with comfort levels at night, but also makes sitting on the cold snow a much less cold and unpleasant experience. Be sure to put a ground sheet beneath it to stop the pillow from getting wet.

10Use lithium batteries

Extended time in the cold will decrease the lifespan of your batteries. And with so many hours of darkness, losing the light of your headlamp can be really inconvenient. Lithium batteries deal with low temperatures much better than alkaline batteries. But it’s always sensible to bring spares.

29 Winter Camping Tips You Need to Know (2)

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Cooking, eating and drinking when winter camping

Camp cooking can be a little different in freezing temperatures. Stoves and their fuel perform differently and you’ll need to increase your calorie intake. So make sure you have some great backpacking food at the ready.

11Eat lots

High calorie, high fat foods are essential for helping to keep you warm and for replacing the extra calories you will burn in the cold conditions. Eat regularly and go to bed with a full belly.

12Don’t worry about fresh food turning bad

You can enjoy fresh meat and cheese all day long if you like! The cold temperatures will keep perishable food fresh for as long as it would in your refrigerator at home.

13Bring a second stove

Even if you have the most reliable camping stove in the world, freezing temperatures can easily cause stoves to malfunction or perform poorly. Bring a backup, just in case.

14Choose the right fuel

Fuel will burn much more quickly in the cold, so account for that when packing. But you will also need to consider what type of fuel you bring. Liquid fuel (white gas) burns well at sub-zero temperatures, where canister gas will fail.

15Boil water to purify it

To ensure that the water you collect is safe to drink, you will need to boil it. Water filters often fail in cold conditions and chemical purification takes much longer to work in the cold.

16Bury your water

Once you’ve boiled your water or melted your snow, prevent it from freezing again by burying it in the snow. Or if it’s in constant use, then turn the bottle upside down as it will freeze from the top down.

17Don’t eat snow

It takes a whole load of energy to turn freezing snow into liquid that will adequately hydrate you. So use that energy to collect and melt the snow instead.

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Personal hygiene when winter camping

Camping hygiene can become a little more tricky in the cold. Wear merino socks and thermals to help reduce body odours, and adopt the mighty baby wipe! But your toilet facilities are the most problematic.

18Pee in a bottle / use an FUD

If you actually manage to get warm at night, then the last thing you want to do is get out of your tent to pee. Have a VERY well labelled bottle at the ready for when nature calls at night. For the ladies, an FUD (female urinary device) will make this possible.

19Dig a cathole in the snow

Make sure it is away from water, not on a slope and away from the trail. Water contamination may not seem like an issue when the ground is covered in snow, but consider what will be left as soon as it melts! For more information on this take our Leave Not Trace Principles Quiz.

20Bag your TP

Again, burying your toilet paper in the snow may seem like you’ve solved the problem, but the snow will melt at some point, so bag your paper. Or wrap it up in clean paper and burn it if you have a fire.

21Wear sunscreen

In theory, there will be very little skin exposed to the elements, however that doesn’t mean the sun won’t burn your nose and cheeks if they’re not protected. You won’t need loads so pack a small tube to share with your group.

22Cover exposed skin with vaseline

It’s not just the sun that will attack your skin. The cold and wind will do everything it can to cause damage to any exposed skin, so cover it with a thin layer of vaseline for some extra protection.

29 Winter Camping Tips You Need to Know (3)

Around the campsite

Setting up a good campsite not only makes your time out in the cold much more comfortable, but it also gives you things to do that mean you’re not just sitting around getting cold.

(Video) 15 Best Winter Camping Tips and Tricks

23Get a fire going

If at all possible, get a good fire going. Not only will it provide warmth, but it will boost morale like nothing else, and keeping it going will provide a good focus for the day. You can also save on stove fuel by melting snow on it for drinking.

24Pack down the snow before pitching the tent

Doing this ensures that there are no thin spots of snow that will melt with your body heat, creating holes and dips that will be uncomfortable to sleep on.

25Dig a pit under the tent vestibule

This will provide a good space for you to sit and take your boots and outdoor gear off before you get into your tent. It also provides a good spot to store gear that you don’t want in your tent.

26Vent your tent

No matter how cold it is, it is essential that you open up a couple of vents in your tent. This will hugely help reduce condensation build up that can then freeze on the inside of your tent.

27Sleep with your boots

If you have boot liners, then take them out of the boots and put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag. If you just have regular hiking boots then put them in a waterproof bag and do the same.

28Keep your batteries and devices warm

If you have a little pocket inside your sleeping bag, then put them in there overnight, and store them in your breast jacket pocket during the day. Keeping batteries and devices warm will help extend their lifespan.

29Dig out a camp kitchen

If you intend on spending a few days in one place then create a more comfortable space to cook in by digging trenches and seats in the snow.

The key to enjoying winter camping comfortably is to stay warm, whatever you are doing. So if you only implement one of these tips on your next (or first) winter camping trip, then whatever you do, stay warm!

(Video) How to Stay Warm and Safe While Camping in the Cold - Cold Weather Camping Tips

FAQs

What should I wear for 30 degree weather camping? ›

To camp In 30-degree weather comfortably you need to bring a ~5 degree Fahrenheit sleeping bag, and a high-quality sleeping pad. To wear, you should have a base-layer with at least 2 additional layers of clothing with the outer-most layer being a windbreaker, as well as thick wool socks.

What are the four main gear choices you need to consider for winter camping? ›

Use gear that's right for winter camping: You'll need a sturdy tent, a warm sleeping bag, two sleeping pads and a stove suitable for cold temperatures.

How cold is too cold for winter camping? ›

How cold is too cold for camping in a tent? 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to -4 degrees Celsius) is generally considered too cold for camping in a tent, especially for those less experienced or not equipped with the right gear.

How do you prepare for winter camping? ›

20 Winter Camping Tips to Keep You Warm Year Round
  1. Set up camp while it's still light. ...
  2. Don't wait until you're cold to take action. ...
  3. Insulate from the ground up. ...
  4. Take extra blankets. ...
  5. Layers. ...
  6. Keep your shoes inside. ...
  7. Maintain ventilation. ...
  8. Stay dry.

How cold is too cold to sleep? ›

Blood vessels become constricted, breathing becomes shallow and it puts extra pressure on our cardiovascular system to get our body temperatures regulated again, she adds. If your bedroom temperature is lower than 60° F, it's too cold.

How cold is too cold to sleep in your car? ›

Think of your car like you would a tent. If you have a 15°F sleeping bag, your lower limit for sleeping in a car in winter should be around 15°F.

How do you keep a tent warm without electricity? ›

The best methods of heating a tent without electricity are:
  1. Use a winter rated sleeping pad.
  2. Use a winter rated sleeping bag.
  3. Wear plenty of layers.
  4. Use a wood or tent stove.
  5. Choose the right tent.
  6. Use hot water bottles.
  7. Choose the right camping location.
  8. Bring candle lanterns.

Is sleeping in a car warmer than a tent? ›

Car, hands down. The R-value of the stuff below you is higher than that of any camping pad, and even with the windows cracked and heat-loss through the glass, it remains noticeably warmer than outside.

How much warmer does a tent keep you? ›

Quick answer: Three-season tents are usually only about 5 degrees F warmer inside than outside. Winter tents are better designed to trap heat and are typically 10-15 degrees warmer inside. Insulated or expedition tents can be over 25F warmer inside.

Can you get sick from camping in the cold? ›

You can't get sick from being cold in general, whether you are outside or inside,” Fecher says. “Can you get sick from being cold? Yes, but not in terms of a cold or the flu. This comes from frostbite and/or even hypothermia.

What is the number 1 rule of wild camping? ›

The general rule is – leave the area in exactly the same condition as it was discovered. Be considerate and camp high: Whenever wild camping it's important to stay away from settlements and respect the privacy of others.

What is the 56 camping day rule? ›

The change in regulations to allow farmers to establish “pop-up” campsites for up to 56 days was introduced in July 2020, to help the rural economy recover from the Covid pandemic. Previously, they were able to operate for only 28 days a year without applying for planning permission.

Is sleeping naked better for your health? ›

There's no proven benefit or harm to sleeping naked,” says Dr. Drerup. “Just do what feels right and then rest easy with your decision.”

Do you sleep better with socks on? ›

Research suggests that wearing socks to bed can help people not only fall asleep faster, but sleep longer and wake up fewer times throughout the night. One study found that young men wearing socks fell asleep 7.5 minutes faster, slept 32 minutes longer, and woke up 7.5 times less often than those not wearing socks.

Are humans meant to sleep more in winter? ›

More sleep is natural in the wintertime, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The normal range is an extra 1.75 to 2.5 hours per night. The key thing is to limit your sleep to between 7-10 hours per night (for healthy adults).

Can a candle keep you warm in a car? ›

Empty coffee can, pillar candle, matches and lighter

If your family becomes stranded, lighting the candle will provide light and some warmth. The metal can keeps the flame protected and will also conduct heat from the flame that can be used to keep hands warm.

How do homeless people keep cars warm? ›

Stockpile blankets and sleeping bags.

These will be essential when you are sleeping outside, but can also keep you warm in a car or in a more protected shelter. Wrap yourself with blankets and then get into the sleeping bag for maximum warmth.

Is it bad to not let your car warm up in the winter? ›

(WEAU) - Extremely cold temperatures can take a toll on your vehicle, especially if it's been sitting outside. Experts recommend you let it warm up before driving it. They say this helps get the fluids properly flowing. Auto professionals also say it's a good idea to invest in a frost plug heater.

How do you heat a tent all night? ›

10 Simple Ways to Heat a Tent
  1. Insulate Your Tent. If you're currently in the market for a new tent, you can buy one that's already fully insulated. ...
  2. Use Makeshift Hot Water Bottles. ...
  3. Use Specialty Tent Heaters. ...
  4. Use Hot Stones. ...
  5. Pitch On a Dead Campfire. ...
  6. Connect Sleeping Bags. ...
  7. Use An Electric Blanket. ...
  8. Wear Cold Weather Clothing.
15 Mar 2021

How do I heat my tent at night? ›

Below are some helpful tips.
  1. Consider ventilating your grow tent from a lung room: a crawlspace, attic or other room in your home that does not get as cold as the outside environment.
  2. Dim your intake/exhaust fans with a fan speed controller. ...
  3. De-glass your hoods. ...
  4. Create an air diffuser. ...
  5. Add more light.

What is the safest way to heat a tent? ›

7 Safe Tent Heating Ideas That Work
  1. How to heat a tent without electricity.
  2. Heat your tent with hot water.
  3. Use heated stones to keep the tent warm.
  4. Insulate your tent.
  5. Set up your tent on top of a campfire.
  6. Electric heaters for tents.
  7. Electric blankets to keep you warm.
  8. Underfloor heating carpets to use with your tent.
17 Oct 2018

Will a candle keep a tent warm? ›

Particularly for winter camping, a candle lantern puts out quite a bit of light, and if the wind is not blowing hard, can raise the inside temperature of a tent by ten to 15 degrees. A good buy in a single-candle lantern is the REI Aluminum Candle Lantern ($18).

Can I leave heater on in tent overnight? ›

Camping heaters can be powered by a fuel source or can be connected to electric hook-up. You can safely operate most electric heaters in tents during the night if you follow our advice here. Gas heaters should only be used in well-ventilated areas and not inside tents.

How do you keep your tent warm in 30 degree weather? ›

You can use foam pads, newspaper, or other materials as long as they will stay dry and trap heat. An emergency blanket can do the trick if you don't have any thick materials. Best of all, it's lightweight and easy to carry in and out of your campsite.

What are the don'ts in camping? ›

Don'ts
  • Don't set up your tent in the dark.
  • Don't leave your campfire unattended.
  • Don't forget your first aid kit.
  • Don't let your kids run around other campsites.
  • Don't ignore campground rules.
  • Don't leave your garbage out at night.
  • Don't bring firewood in from another location.
19 Jul 2011

What should you not bring camping? ›

7 Things You Honestly Should NOT Bring Camping
  • Excessive Electronics. Most people go camping to escape and unplug. ...
  • Perfumes or Potent Smells. Anything with a strong smell can be dangerous to bring camping. ...
  • Glass or Other Breakable Items. ...
  • Valuables. ...
  • Too Many Clothes. ...
  • Fashion Accessories. ...
  • Wrong Types of Food.
18 Apr 2022

What are the seven principles of camping? ›

7 PRINCIPLES OF LEAVE NO TRACE
  • Plan Ahead and Prepare.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly.
  • Leave What You Find.
  • Minimise Campfire Impacts.
  • Respect Wildlife.
  • Be Considerate of Your Hosts and Other Visitors.

Should you crack a window when sleeping in your car? ›

Furthermore, sleeping with the windows up can cause excess moisture from your breath. This will cause your body to feel colder, which isn't ideal in the winter. As a result, you may want to crack the window a half-inch or an inch to aid in circulation and actually stay warmer.

Is it warmer to sleep with clothes on or off in a sleeping bag? ›

Is it warmer to wear clothes in a sleeping bag? Yes, wearing long underwear and clothes keeps you warmer inside a sleeping bag. Your clothes are another layer of insulation that keeps your natural heat close to your boy and prevents it from escaping.

What is the point of putting tent on top of car? ›

During the camp season, your roof top tent can always be on top of your car, and most models let you keep your sleeping bags stowed neatly inside. Leave the worry about where you'll sleep behind — your basecamp is always with you. A Roofnest allows you to get out and explore more often and more easily.

What color tent is best for heat? ›

Do darker tents get warmer in the sun? Yes, is the short answer as dark colors such as black, brown, dark green, blue and purple colors are great at absorbing heat and poor at reflecting light.

What type of tent is warmest? ›

Double layer/insulated tents

These two layers create insulation, so these tents are best for extreme weather conditions. Some double-walled tents also have extra features, such as a vestibule for gear storage or a snow-skirt for protection from the elements.

Is sleeping in the cold unhealthy? ›

In general, the cold will not affect your sleep cycle, but it may make it more difficult to fall asleep and impact other aspects of your health. If you're too cold during sleep, your body may alter its cardiac autonomic response.

Why do I get diarrhea camping? ›

Wilderness-acquired diarrhea is a variety of traveler's diarrhea in which backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts are affected. Potential sources are contaminated food or water, or "hand-to-mouth", directly from another person who is infected.

How do you keep food from freezing in winter camping? ›

Surround with Hot Water Bottles

Just like keeping your food and beverage cold in the summer by replenishing the ice, you need to do the same by refreshing your heat source. Encircle your foods with hot insulated water bottles. This will also help keep your water source from freezing, as well as your food.

What is the 2 2 2 rule for camping? ›

The RVing 2/2/2 rule is a safe and effective way to plan your travel. It means drive no more than 200 miles a day, stop every 2 hours, and stay 2 nights in each place. Some RVers also put an appendix on the rule encouraging drivers to arrive at an overnight destination by 2:00 p.m.

What is the 333 rule for camping? ›

By adhering to this simple rule of thumb, you can make traveling easier for your whole family. What is this? First, limit your travel to no more than 300 miles in one day. Second, arrive no later than 3 p.m. Finally, stay at your destination for at least three days.

What is the 28 day camping rule? ›

At present, farmers and landowners can operate a campsite on their land for 28 days every year without applying for planning permission.

How many toilets should a campsite have? ›

Toilets and basins

Toilets should be adequately spaced. For sites with up to 120 pitches, there should be 2 toilet facilities for women, 1 toilet facility and 1 urinal for men, per 30 pitches. Depending on your local council regulations, you may be required to provide these facilities per 20 or even 10 pitches.

Is wild camping a criminal Offence? ›

If you camp and do not have that permission then you are trespassing – a civil offence in most cases.

Can I use my land as a campsite? ›

Site licence: caravan site licence / camping licence

A licence is required from your local authority if: The land is to be used for tented camping (including trailer tents) on more than 42 consecutive days at a time or more than 60 days in 12 consecutive months.

What are the top 3 best benefits of camping? ›

Seven health benefits of camping
  • Peace and Quiet. Unplug and enjoy the simplicity of nature. ...
  • More Exercise. Camping requires more physical exercise to gather, prepare and store food, get around a campsite and manage your shelter effectively. ...
  • Reduced Stress. ...
  • Better relationships. ...
  • Improved memory. ...
  • Better sleep. ...
  • Vitamin D boost.
15 Jan 2020

Can you sleep in a tent in 30 degree weather? ›

The quick answer is this: Nighttime temperatures in the high 30s/low 40s Fahrenheit is too cold to go tent camping for inexperienced campers with cheap gear. Nighttime temperatures of about 50°F to 65°F are most comfortable for camping.

How many layers do I need for 30 degree weather? ›

The general consensus is that 3 layers are a good place to start when you're planning on hiking at 30 degrees. Typically, these layers will consist of a base layer, a layer meant to provide insulation and an outer layer to protect you against the elements. Keep in mind that this is just the starting point.

What degree sleeping bag do I need for 30 degree weather? ›

What Temperature Rating to Choose - When deciding how warm of a sleeping bag is needed, a good "rule of thumb" is to take the bags advertised temperature rating and then add 10-15 degrees to it. Thus, a bag rated to 20° degrees will keep you warm in temperatures of 30-35° degrees.

Is it warmer inside a tent than outside? ›

Vents, windows and doors can be completely closed to keep wind from blowing heat away. Expect it to be 5-10 degrees F warmer inside a 4-season tent versus the outside temperature. Expedition tents and insulated tents can be 15+ degrees F warmer inside than outside temperatures.

How do homeless people stay warm in a tent? ›

Staying Warm
  1. Putting cardboard under you to create a layer of insulation between you and the cold ground.
  2. Get a mylar blanket. Put it between two blankets and it will help the blankets hold in much more heat. ...
  3. Fingers and toes will get frostbitten quickly! Buy some hand warmers from a camping store.

How do you ventilate a tent in cold weather? ›

Ventilate

You'll want to open all vents, doors and windows. Some tents even let you roll up part of the rainfly for ventilation. If the condensation is really bad in a single-wall tent, then you may even want to open up mesh entrances for better ventilation.

Can you run an electric heater in a tent? ›

However, if you follow proper safety precautions, you can safely use electric or fuel-powered heat sources inside a tent on a winter camping adventure. Modern and safe tent heaters have automatic shut-off features for tipping over and low oxygen to help ensure your safety if you fall asleep.

Can too many layers make you colder? ›

Well, if you wear too much, you'll get too hot, you'll sweat and walk around with cold, damp clothes all day. Especially if you're moving around a lot. Nevertheless, layers are a good thing because they trap air in between them, which acts as an insulator for heat.

What is the best clothing to wear in cold weather? ›

Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton. Insulation Layer: An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down, or fleece work best. Outer Layer: The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow.

What are the 3 layers you need to maintain warmth? ›

What is the 3-layer principle?
  • Layer 1: Base Layer - Transportation. ...
  • Layer 2: Mid Layer - Insulation. ...
  • Layer 3: Outer Layer - Protection. ...
  • High intensity activities will generate body heat and sweat, so it's necessary to wear clothing that is breathable, moisture-wicking, and has good temperature regulation properties.
9 Jan 2019

Is it warmer in a sleeping bag with less clothes on? ›

No. It's a myth that sleeping naked in a sleeping bag is warmer than wearing long underwear.

Are tighter sleeping bags warmer? ›

1. Mummy—The most popular shape, the mummy bag has a snug fit that tapers toward the feet, making it the warmest option. This shape allows the least amount of air between you and the insulating wall of the bag, meaning there is less air to heat.

How warm are military sleeping bags? ›

Top military sleeping bag

What you'll love: With a temperature rating of -10 degrees Fahrenheit, this military sleeping has the mummy shape to limit any air pockets. It's exterior material is made from durable nylon.

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