Camping isn’t just for the summer, when the sun’s out and evening temperatures make cooking, relaxing, and sleeping outdoors a breeze. With the right gear and know-how, you can camp comfortably year-round! By going in the winter, you’ll avoid the crowds and bugs, and get a ton of those cozy hygge feelings we all love when we spend time outdoors.
Anyone can become a pro at winter camping - to get you started, we pulled together 10 of our top tips for beating the cold.
For your first winter camping adventure, pick a campground or destination that’s not too far from home and town in case you need to bail (or warm up in a restaurant!). Bonus points if where you’re going allows fires and has easy access to firewood in the winter. Many provincial parks offer winter rates for camping, but without the services you expect in the summer. Also remember that the days are short, so you want to give yourself plenty of time to get to camp before the late afternoon, so you’re not setting up in the dark.
Our bodies use a lot more energy to stay warm and move in the cold. We also generate heat when we digest food, so it’s a good idea to eat often. Go for hot, easy, nutritious breakfasts and dinners, and quick snacks like Rumble Supershake to keep moving. Avoid any meals or snacks that require too much preparation.
Get the right gear
A 3-season tent is good enough for most wintery conditions, unless you’re expecting stormy and windy weather. Just make sure your tent has enough room to store your shoes and gear. Pack a sleeping bag that’s rated for temperatures cooler than what you’re expecting, or bring a sleeping bag liner to keep warm. To keep yourself insulated from the cold ground, put a simple foam sleeping pad under your self-inflating pad. Don’t forget tarps for our rainy west coast!
Bring the right clothes
Dress in layers, avoiding cotton in favour of synthetics or wool for maximum warmth and protection in damp weather. Also bring along a solid waterproof jacket and pants, gloves, socks, and warm hat.
Pick your tenting spot wisely
Set-up camp in a spot with the most exposure to morning sun, and protection from the wind. If you’re camping in snow, compact the snow first and use snow stakes to keep your tent secure.
To prevent hypothermia and frostbite, it’s smartest to stay warm, instead of trying to warm-up. Use hand and toe warmers when needed, and try heating a bottle of water to warm the bottom of your sleeping bag at night. Fill the floor space in your tent to insulate against the cold ground. When it’s time for bed, get a little exercise first to warm-up.
Bring back-up chargers for your phone and other electronic devices, since their batteries will lose power faster in the cold.
Enjoy the season
Hike, surf, explore and relax wherever you choose to camp! There’s a reflective and moody beauty to the stormy skies and golden light of winter. Spending a weekend outdoors, no matter the weather, can reinvigorate you during the seasonal ‘blahs’ that come with shortened days. Stay warm, stay cozy, and #feedthegood!