Wintertime Camping for Beginners

Wintertime camping is an activity for the intrepid and the brave. It takes a tremendous love of the outdoors and nature to want to venture outside in ice, snow, or below-freezing temperatures just to go exploring and maybe light a campfire. For those willing to take such risks, however, the payoffs can be momentous: crisp evenings drinking cocoa while snowflakes fall all around and the northern lights illuminate the sky, or a full day of snowshoeing in the backcountry. If you have a yearning to experience this kind of adventure, it is important to prepare correctly before you venture out in the cold. A few preparations can make wintertime camping immensely enjoyable, even for beginners.

One of the most important aspects of wintertime camping is to choose the correct gear, both for wearing and for camping. When dressing for cold-weather camping, it is strongly recommended to wear layers: a base layer of long underwear, an insulated middle layer, and an outer layer (such as a puffer coat) for protection against the elements. Wool and synthetic fibers are the best choices for layers, as they wick moisture away from the body while still maintaining their insulating properties if they get damp. Equally important to what you wear is the gear you use for camping: if you are car camping, then you can lay down a platform, mattress, and heated pad in the back of the car to create a comfortable bed. If you are camping in a tent, you will want to choose an all-weather tent made for cold temperatures, as well as a cold-weather sleeping bag. Remember to start the campfire well before sundown, too!

When going wintertime camping, it is important to be aware of your location. Choose a campsite that is accessible during the winter, meaning that it is open, has spots available, and can be reached in your vehicle via plowed roads. It is essential to be aware of the weather forecast around your chosen campsite, as temperatures can fluctuate wildly between dusk and dawn. Storms can move in quickly and take campers by surprise, leaving you stranded in a snow pile. The higher the elevation of your campsite, the colder it will be, and the greater the chance of weather variability. Being prepared for any changes in weather is key to a successful camping trip.

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