Warm Up With These Winter Camping Tips!

Whether you are ringing in the New Year with friends surrounded by fabulous scenery, travelling on a budget, or planning a multi-day backcountry adventure, camping during winter can be just as comfortable and enjoyable as any other season! Instead of packing up your camping gear for the season, pack up a few essential items and get ready for some awesome adventures. Below, we have a list of essential items to bring on your winter camping trip this year, as well as a few tips and tricks for winter camping.

1. Waterproof Footwear

“Cold feet” is an understatement when you have damp boots! During the cold months, it is especially important to make sure your feet stay dry. We recommend waterproof hiking boots with good traction for snowy trails, and insulated gumboots for walking around the campsite. 

2. Sleeping Pad

Whether you are driving to your destination or hiking or cross-country skiing in, bring the thickest inflatable foam pad possible. It will provide cushioning, but more critically, a sleeping pad insulates you from the cold ground. Also ensure that you have a warm sleeping bag with a rating of at least -10 C. 

3. Tarps or Pop-Up Tents

A tarp under your tent and on top are a good addition to waterproof your tent and help insulate your tent to warm you up even more.  Tarps or pop-up tents can also be used over a picnic table to set up a kitchen area to cook and eat, or just for a place to hang out other than your tent to stay dry during rainy (or snowy) periods.

4. Headlamp or Lantern

The sudden onset of very dark evenings can be a hard adjustment during the winter months, especially while camping. Erecting your tent in the dark can definitely put a damper on a day of outdoor adventure, especially when it is cold outside. Headlamps are one of the most important tools for winter camping, and they will also come in handy for starting a fire and nighttime bathroom breaks! For area lighting, many prefer the convenience and safety of LED lanterns as opposed to conventional liquid fuel models.

5. Insulated Outerwear

A puffy down jacket or vest is essential to stay warm during winter camping trips. Be prepared with extra layers and you will be much more comfortable. Always be sure to bring waterproof jackets for your camping excursions, preferably with a zip-out fleece lining to use as layers. 

6. Thermal Underwear

A good base layer is just as important as warm outerwear. We recommend merino wool, which is unique in that it not only warms you up when it is cold out, but it also cools you down when the temperature rises or during those long winter hikes. Always bring extra base layer options in case you get wet or sweaty. 

7. Gloves and Toques

Fleece gloves, insulated mittens and thick toques are a very important addition to your winter camping wardrobe. Be sure to bring extra pairs in case they get wet! Hand and foot warmers are also a great, inexpensive option to keep your hands and feet toasty during chilly winter days.

8. Wool Socks

Kicking back becomes a little more complicated on chilly mornings or evenings. A heavy pair of wool socks will keep your feet toasty and comfortable. Slipping them on after you wake up makes your exit from that warm sleeping bag much easier. Another great option are down camping booties, which are sold at most outdoor recreation stores.

9. Camp Chairs

Bring a camp chair, blankets, or extra foam pads to avoid sitting directly on the snow. This will help you stay warmer and drier which will lead to a more comfortable winter camping experience. We recommend bringing extra fleece blankets to wrap around you while sitting at the fire or to bring into the tent to stay warm and cozy.

10. Small Shovel

It is helpful to have a small shovel to clear the snow for your tent site. Dig an area in the snow to protect your tent from the wind, or pack snow down under your tent to make an even sleeping surface. A shovel is also handy to clear snow off picnic tables, chairs and vehicles. 

11. Heat Source 

The winter months across Canada bring plenty of rain and snow, so there is a good chance the wood source for fires will be wet and difficult to start a fire with. Always be prepared with alternative heat sources to keep you warm including kindling to light that fire!

12. Maps

Whether you want to map out your adventures from the comfort of your tent with our Mapbooks or prefer the ease of planning on-the-go with our BRMB Web Map & Smartphone App, we have you covered! Packing along a version of our Mapbooks and/or Backroad GPS Maps can be the difference between a warm night in your tent or a cold night on the mountain. Utilize a map, guide your journey and even track your waypoints. With both hardcopy and digital options, it has never been easier to plan out your next adventure on the go!