Whether you’ve gone winter camping before or not, there are certain things you should watch out for. I would only recommend winter camping to people who have money to buy the proper equipment and are experienced summer campers. Winter camping is a lot different and much more dangerous than your average summer camp trip. Be sure to consider these winter camping tips before you head up the mountain.
Top Winter Camping Tips
Tip #1: Be A Thorough Planner
Winter camping isn’t like summer camping where you can decide to load up and head out last minute because your weekend plans got canceled. There must be a lot of deliberate planning for a real camping trip in the snow. Don’t feel like you have to go up in the dead of winter either, the best time to winter camp is usually around February, March, or April. As long as you go up high enough there will be plenty of snow and the conditions will be a little warmer.
Tip #2: Be Prepared For Anything
If you do the kind of winter camping that we’ve done in the past, you’ll be perched on top of a mountain knee deep (or more) in snow. A blizzard could (and has) roll in at a moments notice and snow you in, making it impossible to leave for quite some time. Winter camping is not a time to pack light – you need to be prepared for anything.
Pack a lot of extra food, clothing, blankets, propane and pretty much everything on your list. If you get stranded up on the mountain, you’ll want to have everything you need to survive easily. Preparing properly can turn a near disaster into merely an extension of your camping trip.
Tip #3: Go Tent Camping
A real winter camping trip isn’t complete without a big canvas tent – No RV’s allowed! Why? You’d never get an RV into the places we go winter camping. We use trucks to wear down a path to our campsite through the deep snow. Bring an RV and you’ll be stuck on the roads off the mountain.
Setting up a big canvas tent will give you plenty of room to live in, plus keep you sheltered from the howling wind and snow that will pummel you during the trip. Bring a big propane stove to heat the tent up and you’ll be nice and cozy. Don’t forget straw to lay out on the cold ground to make the floor of your tent.
Tip #4: Set Up A Drying Station
Since you’ll be playing all day in the snow, you’re going to get wet…really wet. You better have some kind of setup where you can hang gloves, boots, snow pants and coats above the heater to dry them out. A clothesline across the top of the tent (where the heat gathers) is a great place to hang wet clothes.
Tip #5: Bring On The Bedding
There are a couple different options for bedding depending on your preference. You can sleep right on the ground if you want (you laid out the straw, right?) If you’re going to go this route lay out a big tarp, then put your sleeping pads and sleeping bags on top so they stay dry. Cover with extra blankets so you’re plenty insulated. Unless you want to burn propane all night, the tent is going to get pretty chilly at night.
Your other option is to sleep on a camping cot. This will keep you off the ground and away from mice and other critters that take kindly to your warm shelter. You’ll also have air under you, so you better bring a thick pad to put on the cot so you’re insulated on both sides.
Tip #6: Don’t Forget The Snow Gear
Winter camping is a great time to test out all that snow gear that you’ve got sitting around. Since you’ll be surrounded in the stuff you might as well get some use out of it! Bring sleds, snow shoes, skis, snowboards, saucers, whatever you have that could be fun in the snow.
Since all your snow clothes are going to get wet, it’s a good idea to bring at least 2 of everything – snow boots, gloves, snow pants, coat, etc. The last thing you’ll want to do on a cold winter morning is put on wet gear to go play in.
Tip #7: Get Educated
As mentioned before, winter camping is a lot different than summer camping. Not only do you have the usual injuries that you could face, but other dangers like hypothermia and frostbite are present. Don’t go winter camping without knowing what the signs are and how to prevent and treat the dangers that you may come across.
Winter Camping Is A Blast!
Winter camping can be a lot of fun as long as you prepare properly. Do your due diligence then go for it! Be sure to keep in mind all these winter camping tips so you don’t miss anything important. As long as you stay safe and well fed, you’re sure to have a blast!
Photo by Chewonki Semester School from Flickr.com