The weather has turned (especially in the southern states), but you aren’t quite ready or willing to give up your camping season to the elements, right? I fully understand. The cooler weather can create such a strong sense of belonging with your surrounding environment. Camping in winter forces your senses to heighten and allows you to explore the outdoors without the usual summer crowds.
But camping in winter is no walk on the beach: it’s important to plan carefully for the season as an under-prepared winter camping trip can turn dangerous very quickly. Even in Australia, it's not uncommon at higher altitudes to wake to a beautiful, snowy vista outside your tent.
And while it is beautiful, it's also very, very cold.
So, what do we need to equip ourselves with before setting out on a winter camping expedition? Well, we've made planning your trip and choosing the right gear easy by creating the complete winter camping checklist.
Right click and save this image to print it at home at check off items as you go.
5 simple tips for camping in winter
You've got the checklist, now we've got a few hot tips to help you use that camping gear and stay warm and cosy on your winter camping trip.
1. Choosing the right shelter & bedding
When it comes to choosing a tent for winter camping expeditions, don’t skimp on quality. You should look for a dome or tunnel-shaped four or five-season tent because they keep the heat in better and snow / rain will easily run off the top. I love Black Diamond tents and have used them for years in many different environments.
Choose a 4-5 season sleeping bag for optimal insulation. I prefer down filled bags for their superior warmth and low pack weight. A mummy-shaped bag will keep you warmer than a rectangle bag, but they don't provide as much room for taller, broad-shouldered campers. I love my Macpac down filled sleeping bag for base camping and hiking in cooler weather.
In really cold weather, I steer away from the larger, air-filled mattresses. A smaller, self-inflating mattress (with a thin blue compressed foam one underneath) works well with me, but others might opt for a thicker version such as the Roman self-inflating mattress with the inbuilt pillow.
And if you're travelling light, a swag is always a great way to sleep in the great outdoors. If using a swag, I recommend setting up a tarp to keep the rain and snow out in a downpour or heavy snow storm. A tarp is one of the most useful and versatile items you can take on any camping trip. Camping in the rain doesn't have to suck, just make sure you come prepared for the conditions to change.
2. Camp cooking in cold weather
At low temperatures, butane gas canisters can freeze up making them useless, so I prefer to use a larger, liquid-fuel camp stove because they tend to be more reliable and easier to light.
It's vital that you keep your calorie and fluid intake high in cold conditions. When you get cold, your body burns calories to keep your core temperature at a healthy level, so don't forget to eat plenty of hot healthy meals and drink plenty of H20. Why not give spicy jerk chicken & couscous a try, or start the day with a bowl of super high-energy white chia porridge?
3. Dressing for winter camping
Layering is key to keeping warm on any outdoor expedition, but even more-so in winter. A three layer system should help you stay warm and dry unless you are camping at extremely high altitudes where a four layer system is necessary.
Waterproof breathable gear is essential in winter. Our guide to waterproof breathable clothing has all the info you need to make the right choice when buying jackets and pants online.
4. Keeping things dry
Think about how you are going to keep things dry during your trip. Keep items like toilet paper in a ziplock bag; keep matches in a plastic airtight container, and don't forget to always keep a spare set of warm dry clothes in a drybag so that you can get warm quickly if you happen to get soaked to the bone. And always keep some duct tape on hand: the applications are endless (think holes in tents).
5. We love solar, but...
Solar powered devices are great, but there might not be as much sun around this time of year. A safer bet is to stick to regular battery powered torches and devices — just don't forget to take a good stash of spare batteries with you.
There you have it: our winter camping checklist and some great tips on how to choose and use your camping gear in cold weather. Now you know what gear you need, get out there and make your winter camping trip one to remember — for all the right reasons.