Camping or backpacking in the winter season is greatly appealing to anyone, especially those who enjoy the snow and serenity of a pristine cold wonderland. There are no crowds, no bugs – just the peacefulness and beauty of the snow and winter. Even though the thought of staying outdoors in the cold may be scary for some, winter camping is a truly memorable experience, provided that you plan It right. With a little preparation, you might be surprised by how comfortable your trip can turn out.

Why Go Winter Camping?

Even though the majority of campers may prefer summer camping over winter, the latter does bring its advantages, some of which include:

Pre-planning Tips for Winter Camping

Winter outings offer different struggles as compared to summer camping. You must prepare yourself for more serious weather and shorter daylight hours by packing additional gear and extra skills. Before leaving home, have a plan.

  1. Avoid going alone. Despite how much you may be looking at winter camping as a chance to get away from people, you should always bring along a few friends who have expertise in various winter skills such as snow travel, snow shelters, route finding, etc.
  2. Research the campsite area thoroughly and study maps in detail. How long will it take to reach there and set up the camp? In case something goes amiss, what emergency services (rescue and search, medical, etc.) are nearby.
  3. Talk to people who have been to the same campsite that you are planning to visit, and ask them to give you some pointers. You can also visit the campsite’s website and look for any reviews that may be of benefit to you.
  4. Check the weather prediction and see if the conditions are favorable.
  5. Make sure that the trail and local road conditions are safe and favorable to drive.
  6. Identify and steer clear of avalanche regions. Check the local avalanche forecast and postpone the trip is the danger is high. Remember that avalanche forests may be general and not precise for certain areas. If you are on or near any hill greater than 20 degrees, then your group should indulge in proper avalanche training beforehand.
  7. Leave behind a trip plan. This will help inform others of your whereabouts throughout your trip, and other details regarding when you will be there when you return, your vehicle information, names and contact information of your group members.
  8. Ensure that everyone in your camping group has the same expectations, plans, goals, and turnaround times.
  9. Carry some handy cash for unexpected emergencies or charges.
  10. Always expect the unexpected, and be prepared for it. Keep extra clothing and food just in case the weather changes, you get lost, or your trip brings along any surprises.

Winter Camping Checklist

In the absence of the right tools, the right clothing, and the right skills, your winter camping trip can turn into a hellish nightmare in just a matter of seconds. To help you steer clear of those hurdles, we have compiled here a list of essentials that will make your adventure much more adventurous and enjoyable.


Without a doubt, insulation is the most important piece of winter camping if you are to enjoy it. Humans do not naturally do well in cold climates, which is why staying warm is key to survival and having a good time. Before hitting the trail, make sure to pack the following:

Fire Equipment

It is very difficult to stay warm outside when you are winter camping in the absence of a fire. Heck, it is hard to do so even in the summer, especially if your campsite is at an elevated spot. For this reason, you should always carry backups in case one source of fire goes out. Pack the following items:

Batteries & Lighting

Winter nights are very long, so make sure your flashlight and headlamp batteries are fully charged or brand new before an excursion. Lithium batteries do well under the cold weather, but they can subjugate some devices like headlamps. Make sure to check your product’s user guidebook for compatibility. Alkaline batteries are less expensive and should work nicely on practically any device. However, they do drain at a much faster rate.

Keep in mind that cold temperatures drain battery life faster, so store your batteries and battery-run devices in your sleeping bag to keep them warm.


The shelter is one of the must-haves for any camping trip. Both tents and hammocks get the job done nicely, but if you are looking for portability and a more comfortable setting, then we recommend a hammock. Hammock camping is all around a lot more comfortable, easier to carry and set up, and can be rigged above ground. If you are planning to take a hammock for winter camping, make sure you have a fully enclosed hammock so you won’t get exposed to the cold wind air and can stay better insulated sleeping in it at night.

Repair Kit & Tools

With winter camping, you never know when something might break or go wrong. For this reason, it is always important to have a repair kit and some tools on your side to patch up gear or jury-rig another tool. The following items should be packed:

First Aid Kit

Safety comes first, especially when you are out in the wild, completely exposed to the harsh environment. Being exposed to the natural elements and staying far away from the hospital induces a higher risk of injuries and complications, which is why keeping a first-aid kit by your side at all times is extremely important.

Communication Devices

You will most likely have no cellphone connection when winter camping in the backcountry. However, two-way radios can allow you to stay in touch with your group members who travel at different speeds than you. These radios, however, are restricted to line-of-vision coverage. Satellite phones and messengers provide an option to communicate with your family members at home.


Winter camping is a time when you do not want to be lugging tons of heavy water. A good solution to this problem is to invest in a good filtration system and merely replenish your water bottles in a nearby river or stream to your campsite. If your campground has a fair amount of snow on the ground, then bring some snow to a rolling boil and hold it there for a minute to purify it.


It is always a good idea to allocate extra funds for food, in case you need it. Winter camping burns a lot more calories, which is why having adequate food backup is important.

You should have some backups by your side, in addition to your phone. This includes maps and compasses etc.

Keeping the tips mentioned above in mind will help you prepare for a winter camping trip of a lifetime. Visit this page for a complete downloadable winter camping checklist.