What you Should to Know Before Embarking on Your Winter Backpacking Trip

Whether you prefer winter backpacking or cross-country skiing, you want to be well prepared. Have the right gear to keep you warm and help you withstand sub-zero temperatures in winter. Are you planning your winter camping trip? Here are some of the tips to help you have a great experience. 

Whether you prefer winter backpacking or cross-country skiing

Select a Winter Backpacking Trail

Selecting the proper trail is crucial for skiers looking to have an excellent winter backpacking trip. If you are going winter camping for the first time, a short winter hiking trail will be ideal. Aim at having the best experience while avoiding any risks.

The campsite you choose should at least feature a sunny location or allow you to watch the sun as it rises. Make sure your preferred trail has a camp location close to open water for cooking and drinking. In such a case, you will not have to use melting snow or even ice. Finding a campsite with many downed wood would be ideal because campfires are critical during chilly winter nights.

If you plan to go winter hiking, try to avoid areas with swamps, stream crossings, or regions that are prone to flooding. Further, you want to avoid walking on frozen lakes because falling can spoil your trip.  

Have an Emergency Exit Plan

Have a emergency response number

Emergencies often occur in the wilderness, and you need to be prepared to facilitate effective and fast evacuations. As you analyze your trail maps and outline your itinerary, identify the fastest routes to the highway or even road near your path. Have an emergency response number list for the region where you will be winter backpacking. It is worth mentioning that 911 will not always work, especially in the wilderness regions.

Collect a list of reliable emergency contact numbers from the forest ranger center in your area and keep it safely inside your first aid kit. When an emergency strikes, you will only need to pick your list fast and call for help. 

Plan Your Trip Itinerary and Obtain Permits

Obtain the right map of the area within your preferred trail before you can start planning your route. Include your preferred campsites and daily mileage. You will need to present this information when obtaining permits. You can also use it to establish the number of calories you will need when you start your food planning process. 

Obtain a permit from the forest ranger station of the region you will be visiting if need be. You will need the following details to process your permit: 

  • The start and end date of your winter backpacking trip
  • Your emergency exit arrangement
  • Your campsite location for each night

Learn and Practice how to How to Assemble a Camp during Winter

To build a camp during winter, you should be conversant with some campsite preparation steps. Prepare to arrive at your preferred campsite before sunset. You will have an easy time setting camp in broad daylight. Here are the steps you need to follow.

  • Pick the Suitable Winter Campsite
  • Select a location away from the wind
  • Be on the lookout for frozen and dead branches that may fall on your tent from above.
  • Where possible, choose a location where there is non-frozen running water.
  • Mark some landmarks to help you identify your campsite in the snow
  • Build your camp where the sun will shine through and offer that necessary morning warmth

Building Your Tent

Building Your Tent

To keep yourself warm, try layering up in dry camp clothing. Do not forget dry mittens and socks, and a warm hat. Always pack an extra pair of warm clothing to be on the safe side. 

  • Make sure your campsite area is broader than your tent.
  • Use specially designed tent stakes for snow when building your tent.
  • Where there is no natural wind wall, be sure to build an artificial one
  • Keep sharp-edged tools such as ice axes and crampons out of the tent. 
  • Fasten your camp to avoid losing your belongings beneath the snow
  • Put everything away after use. You want to know where all your belongings are. 
  • Keep your snowshoes, skis, hiking boots, and trekking poles in an upright position in the snow. 

Set Up Your Winter Kitchen

Building a dream kitchen during a winter camping trip can be exciting. Use a shovel to remove the snow and shape it to create a cooking area, tables, seats, and a storage area. Incorporate your creativity to make it as detailed as possible.

Adhere to the Leave No Trace Camping Requirements

Backpackers should observe Leave No Trace camping policies. Let us look at some of these considerations regarding winter camping.

  • Try to remain on deep snow cover as much as possible.
  • Wrap toilet paper and human waste in a plastic bag. Dig an 8-inch deep hole in the ground at low elevations. Bury the waste, and place a rock on top. The rock prevents animals from digging it up.
  • Build your camp approximately 200 feet away from a water source, trail, and other campers. 
  • Respect the wildlife and view them from a far off distance. Remember, many wild animals are vulnerable during winter.
  • Avoid breaking or cutting off the limbs of the dead, live, or even downed trees. 

Food and Drink Tips to Help You during a Winter Camping Trip

Your body utilizes lots of energy when you are hiking in snowy-cold landscapes. To keep your body warm and energetic during and after your winter activities, you should hydrate and eat well. These water and food tips will come in handy. 

·       Consume Simple but Hot Meals during Your Winter Backpacking Trip

Consume Simple but Hot Meals during Your Winter Backpacking Trip

A hot meal can be quite satisfying during your winter camping trip. However, ensure your meals are simple to avoid cleaning many utensils during snowy conditions. Your meals should be easy to cook but rich in calories. All in one pot meals are ideal for backpackers during their winter backpacking trip. Consider freeze-dried breakfast meals and entrees and familiarize yourself with simple meal planning practices. 

·       Set aside Time for Lunch Breaks

During lunch, opt for quick grab energy-rich sandwiches or snacks. Ensure they are rich in fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Avoid prolonged breaks during lunch and instead, chew on your snacks on the go. 

·       Adopt Proper Food Storage Practices

Remember, wild animals such as bears are usually in a state of deep sleep during the winter season. However, some creatures will attempt to attack your food if you do not keep it in a safe place. Store your food securely inside your backpack or food storage container and use a rope to suspend it from a tree. Remember, some regions might have food storage regulations. You want to figure these out before embarking on your winter backpacking trip.  

·       Hydrate Often

Many people avoid drinking water during winter, which leaves them feeling thirsty and toasty, as is the case during hot summer days. To be well hydrated, campers and backpackers should sip on the water often across the day. Consider preparing hot drinks at the campsite such as hot chocolate, herbal tea, or hot soup to hydrate and warm up your body. 

·       Utilize Bottles

Utilize Bottles

Instead of carrying their hydration containers during winter, many campers opt for Nalgene water bottles. Reservoirs come with tubes that can be affected by frostbite, denying them something to drink. To maintain your water supply during your camping trip in winter, ensure your water bottle cover is insulated. 

Winter Camping Gear you need to Enhance Your Camping Experience

While winter gear forms a crucial part of your winter backpacking trip, it is heavier than what you need for a summer camping trip. Expect to carry up to 40 pounds of gear for your winter day hikes. Here are some of the things you should consider when buying the additional winter gear you need for your backcountry winter experience.

·       Backpack

A large backpack is ideal for placing all the extra gear you require for a winter trailhead excursion. If you are going out for a snowshoeing weekend adventure, a 65-liter ultralight backpack will be ideal. Ensure it features lash points for ice axes and snowshoes. Line up your pack with a non-perfumed garbage disposal bag or even a dry bag that will maintain dryness inside the bag. 

·       Tent

A good quality tent should keep you warm during the winter season. Consider a freestanding dome-shaped 4-season tent. Setting up this design will be simple in the snow, and it will allow snow to shed off with ease. 4 season tents feature additional setup guylines for added stability during strong winds. They also come with a large vestibule that facilitates the storage of items and cooking processes. 

·       Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag

A good night’s sleep is critical for your happiness and health, whether you are camping during the winter or summer seasons. You do not want to be freezing in your tent throughout the night in the wilderness.

To avoid sleep challenges during your winter backpacking trip choose the right sleeping bag for your anticipated conditions. Ensure your base layer clothing is dry before jumping inside your sleeping bag.

If your feet tend to get unusually cold, consider wearing warm socks as well. The suitable sleeping bag should be approximately 10 degrees colder than the expected low temperatures. If you are afraid of suffering frostbite, then carry a sleeping bag liner and extra warm clothing.

Many of the winter-appropriate bags available today are hooded. You can also purchase down hoods if your sleeping bag comes without a hood. You can also choose a quilt instead. 

·       Sleeping Pad

A sleeping pad provides hikers with sufficient cushioning and insulation. Here are some tips to help you choose the right sleeping pad for your winter camping trip. 

Have Two Sleeping Pads

If you are camping at sub-zero degrees, consider using two sleeping pads. Ensure they are full-length to ensure you do not lose body heat on snow-cold surfaces. A closed-cell foam pad is ideal for use next to the ground, while a self-inflating sleeping pad comes in handy on the top. The foam pad will keep you warm if the self-inflating pad is punctured. 

Consider the R-Value

Sleeping pads come with an R-value rating, the insulation measurement that ranges between 1.0 and 8.0. A sleeping bag that comes with a higher R-value offers better insulation. All-season and winter designed sleeping pads come with an R-value of approximately 4.0 or even higher. 

·       Navigation

While you may want to carry a digital GPS navigation device, it is worth mentioning that cold temperatures drain batteries fast. Lithium batteries, however, are ideal in cold weather. Instead of relying on your phone for navigation during your winter hikes, opt for a paper map. Carry a compass and familiarize yourself with how it operates. Pack a personal location gadget that facilitates fast location identification and rescue in the event of an emergency. 

·       Cooking System

Cooking System

Having the right cooking stove is crucial during winter conditions. Remember, some fuels and stoves perform better at high elevations in cold temperatures than others. White gas stoves would be ideal for your winter backpacking trip.

Apart from burning clean and hot, they perform better in sub-zero temperatures. They are heavier and feature slower boil times. Priming is ideal when using these stoves. Heat times during winter are often longer, and to be on the safe side, you need to carry extra fuel. Canister stoves and butane systems are poor performers during winter. Avoid them where possible. 

Little but Crucial Items

Forgetting small things when packing for a trip is easy. Here is a list to help you include everything you need for your winter backpacking trip in your package. 

  • Headlamp
  • Additional headlamp batteries
  • Lip balm to help relieve chapped lips
  • Sunscreen is necessary even when you are hiking in winter
  • Ice traction gadgets such as spikes and crampons
  • sunglasses
  • Tall gaiters to prevent snow from settling on the top part of your winter boots
  • A fire starting kit as well as a backup kit
  • Credit card
  • Some cash
  • Cross-country skis and snowshoes
  • An emergency blanket
  • Disposable shower caps

Sufficient Calories

Eating is crucial during a winter backpacking trip as it helps keep you warm during your winter hikes. When you eat food, your body will generate heat during the digestion process. Remember, your metabolism levels will be high during winter as your body attempts to keep you warm.

Increased metabolism translates to calorie burning, which is why you should eat more. However, consuming calories only will not keep you sufficiently warm. You should also drink enough water to keep you hydrated because hydration facilitates proper food digestion. Prepare your high-calorie meals in advance and eat regularly.

Butter is a critical component that you should integrate into all your meals, including your coffee and hot chocolate. Many hikers prefer to eat their lunch on the go, and they also snack often. Carry foods that you can consume easily without removing your gloves, such as nuts, nutrition bars, and trail mixes. Do not carry meals that solidify or freeze like peanut butter and fresh fruit. 

How to Prevent Injuries during a Winter Backpacking Trip

Hypothermia and frostbite are some of the main concerns when it comes to winter camping. You can prevent these winter conditions by taking care of yourself and your hiking team in the following ways. 

·       Remain Warm 

Remain Warm

You can maintain a favorable temperature by dressing appropriately. Doing so is much easier than attempting to get warm after a bout of cold. 

·       Be Alert

If you notice that your toes or fingers are getting cold, stop what you are doing, examine them, and look for ways to warm them up. Sandwiching your cold fingers between your armpits is an excellent method of warming them up. Apart from wearing warm and dry socks, consider placing your cold toes against your partner’s belly. Where possible, use toe or hand warmer packets. 

·       Monitor Your Fellow Winter Hikers

Talk to your colleagues and find out how they feel. If you notice unusual symptoms such as pale spots or a feeling of clumsiness along the trail, take immediate action. Cover any exposed skin and make them wear an additional layer of warm and dry clothing.

Finally

While the winter season can be dull, camping trips are adventurous and fun. However, you need to take the necessary precautions and dress appropriately to keep warm and avoid injuries. These winter backpacking tips should help you get started with ease. Visit our blog now for more details on winter camping. 

What you Should Consider when Choosing a Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather

If you are a camping enthusiast, then a sleeping bag for cold weather will come in handy. With the number of campers increasing by the day, there has been an influx of camping essentials in the market. Are you struggling to find the right cold-weather sleeping bag? Here is what you should consider before making a purchase. 

you are a camping enthusiast

Temperature Ratings

Temperature ratings indicate the coldest condition that you can be comfortable in the sleeping bag. These ratings are crucial, especially if you are going for your first winter camping trip. For instance, assuming the comfort level of your sleeping bag is 20 degrees. You will be able to sleep well at 20 or more degrees.

Apart from wearing warm clothing, use an excellent quality sleeping pad beneath. Remember, temperature ratings vary depending on your camping location. The sleeping bag you choose should come with EN standard certification and an EN13537 mark. These markings mean that the sleeping bag has gone through a thermal manikin test. This test is more authentic than an independent test done by the manufacturer. There are four standard temperature ratings to ensure you are comfortably warm. These are:

·       Upper Limit

Under this rating, a male should be able to sleep comfortably without sweating. They can even keep their arms outside the sleeping bag, and open both the zipper and hood.  

·       Lower Limit

Under this rating, a male should be able to sleep in a curled position for 8 hours uninterrupted.

·       Comfort

Under the comfort rating, a female should be able to sleep in a relaxed position comfortably. 

·       Extreme

This rating defines the minimum temperature that a female can sleep for up to 6 hours without risking hypothermia.

It is worth mentioning that sleeping bags that feature an EN standard tag are more costly. Further, no level of testing can be wholly perfect for you because different people feel cold differently. Consider layering your clothes and only take off the layers one after the other if you feel too hot. You can also pile up the layers if the temperatures drop and zip up your sleeping bag. 

Insulation Material

Sleeping bags are made of different types of insulation material, and each comes with pros and cons. Some of the commonly used insulation materials include:

·       Synthetic

Synthetic

Synthetic insulation, made from polyester, is a cost-friendly way of keeping you warm. Sleeping bags for cold weather made with synthetic insulation operate well even during damp weather. They are also hypoallergenic and durable. However, transporting synthetic-insulated sleeping bags can be difficult because they are bulky and hard to pack down inside their storage sack.  

·       Goose-Down

While goose down sleeping bags can be pricey, many campers prefer them because they are durable and warmer than synthetic sleeping bags. You can compress them to form a small pack. However, they lose their insulating capability once they get wet. 

·       Water-Resistant Down

Water-resistant down sleeping bags are treated to shield the feathers from moisture. These sleeping bags are some of the most expensive options available. However, they are portable and remain warm even when they become damp. 

·       Zippers

The sleeping bag you choose should be easy to unzip because you will be entering and exiting it often. Opt for sleeping bags that come with long length zippers that open on both sides. These offer more flexibility and ventilation.

Some cold weather sleeping bags come with short zipper lengths that make them ultralight. However, sleeping in them could make you feel constricted and uncomfortable. Avoid metal zippers because they can be unreliable, delicate, and heavy.

Plastic and nylon zippers are ideal when it comes to their length, quality, and ability to adapt to varying weather conditions. Slider zippers, on the other hand, come with non-locking and double pulls features. You can open them both from the external and internal parts and this makes the sleeping bag easily accessible.

·       Zipperless Sleeping Bags for Cold Weather

Today, some of the lightest sleeping bags are zipperless, which makes them easy to open and close. Apart from adding weight to your sleeping bag, zippers become worn out over time. If you opt for a zipperless sleeping bag, ensure it features a draft tube.  

The Fit

The Fit

Your sleeping bag’s shape and size determines how effective it will be. The right sleeping bag should be form-fitting. If it is too big, then it will not insulate you appropriately. Again, you do not want a small sleeping bag.

Apart from making you feel uncomfortable, it will be a snag for the perfect warmth. Sleeping bags come in various shapes, with the most common being rectangular and mummy. A rectangular sleeping bag is ideal for regular weather patterns. Mummy bags, on the other hand, shield you from the heat during overly cold temperatures.

Many sleeping bags for cold weather come in the mummy shape. Rectangular bags offer more room to move around, but mummy bags give you better insulation. The enhanced insulation prevents heat loss through the head.

Many mummy sleeping bags for cold weather also feature drawstrings around the hood. Be on the lookout for other features like neck mufflers or draft collars and face mufflers. These features help protect your head and neck from the cold. 

Spacious Interior

Spacious Interior

While a figure-hugging sleeping bag is warmer, it reduces air space over your body. Spacious cold weather sleeping bags, on the other hand, allow you to move around and sleep more comfortably. However, you will need sufficient body heat to fill your space up. Here are some measurement factors you should understand when choosing a sleeping bag. 

·       Length

Choose the shortest length that fits your frame well and keeps your feet comfortable without being pressed when you wear your hood. Ensure your cold-weather sleeping bag has some room at the bottom area. You can use it (the extra room) as a storage space for your hiking clothes or shoes. 

·       Hip Measurement

Many male sleeping bags measure approximately 58 inches around the hip, while female ones can measure up to 60 inches. Try on different sleeping bag sizes to identify the best that meets your needs. 

·       Shoulder Girth 

Many sleeping bags come with a shoulder-length that varies between 60 and 64 inches. Cramped sleeping bags come with a 58-inch shoulder length. Female sleeping bags, on the other hand, come with a confined shoulder length that varies between 56 to 60 inches. Remember, 0ne inch makes a big difference in terms of snug level. The ideal way of determining the right size is to try various sleeping bag sizes. 

Getting the Best out of Your Sleeping Bag

After purchasing your sleeping bag, you want to do everything possible to get the best out of it. Avoid placing your sleeping bag on the ground. Always use a sleeping pad to protect your cold-weather sleeping bag, and keep it warm. You can warm your sleeping bag during the day by placing it under direct sun. You can also keep it close to the campfire in the evening.

If you are going camping during extreme winter conditions, use a hot water bottle. Doing so helps you get enough warmth and sleep comfortably. Take excellent care of your sleeping bag if you plan to use it for many years.

 Keep it uncompressed in a dry place to protect the filling from getting bundled up and crushing. Clean your sleeping bag and dry it thoroughly after every use, especially if it gets dirty or wet during your camping trip. 

What are some of the Best Sleeping Bags for Cold Weather? 

Here are some of the high-quality sleeping bags you can choose.

·       REI Co-op Igneo 17

REI Co-op Igneo 17

The Co-op Igneo 17 from REI is an ultralight, mummy-shaped, and water repellent power down sleeping bag that comes with a breathable fabric. These features make it ideal for wet weather conditions. It is perfect for 3-season use, and it gives you superior warmth and loft. It also features a Ripstop nylon shell.

Co-op Igneo 17 comes with a somewhat angular contoured hood and an excellent and warm headspace. This sleeping bag for cold weather also features a total-length draft tube that keeps you warm. 

·       NEMO Disco

Nemo Disco is one of the most comfortable mummy-shaped sleeping bags. It comes with extra room along the knees and shoulders to allow side sleepers more comfort and mobility. Nemo Disco has an integrated zippered stuff sack and pillow sleeve. It also has a blanket fold that shields your face and neck from cold drafts. This cold weather sleeping bag features two zippered gills along the body.

During warm weather, users do not have to unzip the main zipper. All they should do is unzip the gills to help control the temperature inside the sleeping bag. Nemo Disco is available in 30F and 15F temperature ratings, and you will enjoy a lifetime warranty. This sleeping bag comes with a hydrophobic 800-fill power goose down insulation to help you sleep comfortably even at 0°F (-18°C). 

·       Teton Sports Mummy Zero Degree Sleeping Bag

Teton Sports Mummy Zero Degree Sleeping Bag

This mummy-shaped sleeping bag is ideal when it comes to locking in heat in cold regions. It comes with an insulated foot box that keeps your feet warm and comfortable while sleeping. The Teton sports mummy zero degrees sleeping bag features a three-piece hood to keep your face, neck, and head warm. If you tend to feel very cold, then this Teton sleeping bag should be on your bucket list. 

·       Kelty Cosmic 0 Degree Sleeping Bag

If you are looking for a cost-friendly sleeping bag, the Kelty Cosmic 0 degree option would be ideal. This sleeping bag is water-resistant and designed to keep you comfortably toasty. Just as the North Face Inferno option, you can purchase this sleeping bag from Amazon. While some backpackers find the Kelty Cosmic 0 degree sleeping bag heavy, you can carry it around with ease. It is ideal for you if you love backcountry car camping. 

·       Kammok Thylacine Sleeping Bag

Kammok Thylacine Sleeping Bag

Kammok Thylacine sleeping bag is one of the best cold weather camping sleeping bags. It is zero degrees rated, and you can adjust your desired warmth level. All you need to do is pull the custom-fitted straps that cinch the sleeping bag close to your body. Doing so helps prevent movement of cold air inside the bag. 

·       Marmot Trestles 0 Sleeping Bag

The Marmot Trestles 0 Sleeping Bag is a budget-friendly backpacking option that is ideal for use in overly cold spots. It comes with a two-way full-length zip on one side. It also features an additional zip on the opposite side, allowing you to fold its top part whenever it gets too hot. This sleeping bag has easy to feel draw cords. You can easily cinch down the sleeping bag and zip it up even in the dark. 

·       Mountain Hardwear Phantom

Mountain Hardwear Phantom

While the Mountain Hardwear phantom bag is all rounded, it is more expensive compared to the Western Mountaineering option. It features four chambers in the hood to keep you comfortably warm during the night. It also has a draft collar that prevents warm air from escaping from various parts of the bag. It is ultralight and portable.

This cold weather sleeping bag is made using recycled 10D components, which enhance its durability. The Mountain Hardwear Phantom sleeping bag comes with vertical baffles, which make it easy to compress. It also comes with a compression sack that campers can use to store the bag appropriately without causing damages. 

You can have a Blissful Winter Camping Night with the Right Sleeping Bag

Do you love camping? Having the right sleeping bag for cold weather is crucial if you are looking for the best experience in the woods. With many sleeping bag options available today, choosing one that best meets your needs can be difficult. However, you can leverage this article to help you make an informed decision.  Book your winter camping trip now and enjoy some of the best activities in Switzerland.

The Ultimate Cold Weather Camping Checklist for Safety and Comfort

Going on a winter camping trip is a great alternative to getting cooped up indoors. It offers great opportunities for fun and adventure — even for entire families. And if you prefer the peace and quiet of solitude, it provides the perfect getaway from the chaos of modern life.

However, since you will be in the backcountry in extremely cold weather, and possibly treacherous terrain, you will need the right winter camping gear in order to ensure that you are both safe and comfortable. Here is a camping checklist that will come in handy in helping to keep you safe and warm. 

Cold Weather Clothing and Other Accessories for Warmth

Cold Weather Clothing and Other Accessories

The main aim of your clothing, or any other accessories that you put on, should be to keep your body from losing heat. They should also be good enough to keep you from getting wet. Any clothing or accessory that has insulation and that wicks your sweat away will also go a long way towards ensuring that you are both warm and comfortable. With this in mind, here is what you should have with you when going on a backcountry camping trip.

For Your Face

For Your Face

Extreme winters typically feature strong winds and cold. These elements can not only be irritating to your eyes, but also bad for your skin. Exposing your face will also accelerate the rate at which you lose body heat.

Therefore, as a winter camper, you will find a balaclava to be essential to staying warm. When you combine it with a beanie, a ski mask, and a pair of goggles, keeping your face safe from harsh winter conditions won’t be a challenge for you.

When choosing a balaclava, neck gaiter, beanie, or any other covering, you should always make sure that it is comfortable and that it is made of breathable material. Since it will be directly in contact with your skin, moisture-wicking ability is also something that you should consider.

As far as the glasses or goggles are concerned, what you should be looking for is the visible light transmission rating. For winter camping, glasses and goggles that have a visible light transmission that is below 19% are ideal. However, if it is cloudy, you may have to use ones that have visible light transmissions of up to 40%.

For Your Hands

For Your Hands

As far as your hands are concerned, gloves and mittens will offer the main protection against frostbite and other negative effects of cold weather. Having an extra pair of waterproof and heavily insulated gloves or mittens will help to shield your hands and fingers. And if you get cold, having a packet of toe hand warmers will come in handy in restoring your heat.

For Your Feet

Pairing your winter boots with thick wool socks or synthetic socks is a great way to guarantee comfort and warmth. If you have to move around in the snow, using good gaiters will come in handy in protecting your boots from snow invasion. It will also contribute to keeping your feet warm.

For the Rest of Your Body

For the Rest of Your Body

Generally, you will need clothing that traps heat, keeps you from losing that heat, and also protects you from rain, snow, and other elements. You will achieve this by layering your clothing.

The base layer

This is the layer that comes in contact with your skin. It is supposed to be comfortable and hugging. It should also have a wicking ability that allows it to drain sweat away from your skin in order to keep you dry and comfortable. As a result, when layering, you should stay away from cotton clothing since cotton is very poor at wicking sweat away. It will keep you wet, and this can cause you to lose heat faster. Clothing made of propylene is a common choice that is affordable.

The middle layer

The middle layer is what insulates your body from the outside world. A merino wool sweater, fleece, or down jacket are all great insulating layer options.

The outer layer

An important factor to consider when choosing the outer layer is whether it is water-resistant. This layer should be able to effectively protect you from rain, snow, and wind. For this layer, opting for a hardshell jacket that has adequate weatherproofing won’t disappoint.

Winter Camping Checklist for Shelter

A 4-Season Winter Tent

A 4-Season Winter Tent

A good winter tent should be able to withstand high winter winds, protect you from the cold, and bear the weight of falling snow. 4-season tents are well-equipped to handle typical harsh winter conditions and are thus the best choice as far as winter tents go.

When choosing the size of your tent, it is always advisable that you choose one that is spacious enough to fit all your gear. A tent with a spacious vestibule is also ideal as it will offer extra storage space. However, do not go for a tent that is too large as it may lead to a lot of cold spots in your tent, and this can make getting warm difficult. A larger-than-needed tent will also make transportation more challenging than it needs to be.

Snow Stakes

Unlike camping during summer, winter camping requires the use of special stakes during the tent setup process. This is mainly because of the strong winds that are common during winter. Snow stakes are stakes that are specially designed for use in snow and are generally strong enough to provide tents the support they need to withstand high winds and heavy snow.

Camping Checklist for Tools

Packing down the snow at your camping site is the first step in creating a good foundation. Doing so helps to keep the ground from melting easily. The good news is that you don’t need much in order to get stable ground that is less likely to melt. For this step, all you need is to stomp the snow at the site with your snowshoes. Hiking boots and skis can also get the job done.

Carrying a snow shovel will make the packing work easier. Also, if you need to create more storage space in your vestibule, you can use the shovel to dig into the snow in order to create sufficient storage for your gear.

Winter Camping Checklist for Comfortable Sleeping

Sleeping Pad

One of the fastest ways to lose body heat is to come in contact with the frozen ground. A sleeping pad has enough insulation to act as a buffer between your body and the ground and hence it limits the odds of extreme body heat loss. Furthermore, it also creates a more-comfortable platform for you to sleep on. Therefore, a sleeping pad is a must-have accessory if you want to not only feel warm but also comfortable.

However, it is important to keep in mind that not every sleeping pad can handle harsh winter conditions. To be on the safe side, you should always go for pads that have an R-Value that is more than 4. The higher the R-value of the pad, the better the protection that it will offer against the freezing ground. Also, while a single sleeping pad is usually enough to provide the necessary insulation, you can get even more protection when you combine a self-inflating pad with a closed-cell foam pad.

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag

With a sleeping pad setting out a comfortable and weather-proof foundation against the cold ground, you will then need something to trap your body heat and keep you comfortable and insulated against the environment. Cold weather sleeping bags typically come with plenty of synthetic insulation or goose down, and this gives them an enhanced ability to keep you warm when sleeping. They also have draft collars and zippers that allow them to provide superior heat-trapping capabilities.

Therefore, if you want to sleep comfortably, make sure that you carry a good sleeping bag. Also, make sure that it has the ideal rating to deal with harsh winter conditions.

Sleeping Bag Liner

Some winter campers use sleeping bag liners to protect their sleeping bags from getting dirty or from getting worn out. However, these camping accessories can come in handy in helping to boost the sleeping bag’s ability to keep a camper warm. As a result, having them on hand can help in situations where your sleeping bag isn’t providing as much warmth as expected.

Winter Camping Gear for Backcountry Snow Travel

Winter Camping Gear for Backcountry Snow Travel

Moving on Snow

Good waterproof hiking boots are usually enough to allow you to get around in cases where there are shallow levels of snow. However, if the snow levels start to build up, you will need snowshoes. Other gear that may make it easier for you to move around include a snowboard and skis. An ice axe, crampons, and trekking poles will also make your work easier. The only thing that you should keep in mind is that if you choose to ski or snowboard, you will have to wear the appropriate gear in order to move safely and comfortably.

In most cases, if you are going on a hike, a water-proof backpack with adequate insulation will be enough to carry all that you need. However, if you are going trekking on a long journey and you need to carry more things, a sled will be useful as you won’t have to carry it on your back.

Navigation

If you are going to go snowshoeing or mountaineering in the backcountry, you need to have the tools that can help you to find your way back to your winter camping site. Since there are chances you may find yourself away from your camp after the sun sets, having a lightweight headlamp will come in handy helping you to find your way. And to avoid getting stranded in the dark, carrying a few extra batteries for the lamp is always a good idea.

 A map, a reliable compass, a watch, and a good GPS system will also come in handy in helping you find your way around. Another thing that can help is a guidebook that describes landmarks and the general area that you are exploring. As for the maps, guidebooks, and any other items that can get wet, you can protect them with a waterproof sleeve or an airtight plastic bag.

Sun protection

Just because it is winter does not mean that you don’t need protection from the sun. This is so especially when you consider the fact that snow reflects the sun. Therefore, when going on a cold-weather camping trip, it is always a good idea to arm yourself with enough sun protection.

As a result, you should carry a sun hat, a healthy supply of sunscreen, and sunglasses. If you can get your hands on SFP-rated lip balm, your lips will thank you.

Food and Water

Winter campers typically need to cook their meals to ensure that their bodies get the right amount of nutrients needed to keep warm. For most of them, heating up snow is an easy and reliable way to get access to drinking water. And having a stove that can reliably heat up their meals and which is compact and lightweight enough for backpacking, is something that they prioritize.

Camping Gear for Cooking and Boiling Water

Stove

What you need in a stove is something that is effective, compact, and can work in cold weather conditions. You will basically have two options to choose from. You can choose canister stoves or liquid-fuel stoves.

You can choose canister stoves or liquid-fuel stoves

While liquid fuel stoves offer better performance in freezing winter conditions, they are a generally slower and heavier alternative. Therefore, a canister stove is usually recommended because of its compactness, faster boiling speed, and weight.

Furthermore, even though it tends to be problematic due to cold weather depressurization, this is a shortcoming that you can overcome by placing it in your sleeping bag when you are sleeping, or even keeping it in your jacket pocket. Wrapping the canister during use will also reduce the depressurization problem. And since there are canister stoves with built-in pressure regulators, you can still get great cold weather performance from these stoves.

Make sure that you carry an extra stove, just in case the main one fails to work. Packing extra fuel — more than you think you will need — whether it is white gas, kerosene, canisters, or gasoline, is always a great idea.

Cooking platform

When you use your stove on the snow, the snow will start to melt off. This will create an uneven cooking platform. In such a case, a cooking platform will come in handy. You can get one from a camping store, or you can create one by simply using a foam square that is insulated with aluminum foil. A piece of plywood will also do.

Additional items

Other additional items that you will need in order to prepare your food include fire starters or waterproof matchsticks, water filters, a mug, a cup, a spork, and a pot. You shouldn’t also forget to carry a dishcloth for washing your dishes, soap, and a plate.

Food

During winter, your body works extra hard to keep you warm. As a result, packing a generous amount of nutrition-dense healthy foods is necessary for staying warm and energized. Having a few snacks with you will also come in handy in giving your body a quick boost of energy when you don’t have an appetite or when you are simply not in the mood to prepare food. Hot beverages like cocoa and soups are also come in handy. Generally, you should always go for food that is easy and convenient to prepare.

Packing an Extra Water Bottle and Other Camping Tips

You should always pack an extra water bottle because there are different ways that you can use one. For example, instead of waking up in the middle of the night to do jumping jacks, you can simply use a water bottle to keep you warm. All you need to do is to fill up a plastic bottle with hot water, and then throw it inside the sleeping bag at night. If it gets too hot, you can wrap it. Having an insulated sleeve specifically for your water bottle will also help to reduce the rate at which it loses heat.

Also, if it is too cold outside and you don’t have a pee bottle with you, the water bottle can be a great alternative. In such a case, you are a woman, having a pee funnel could come in handy.

Another tip that you will find useful during your campout is to keep any clothing that you intend to use the next day in your sleeping bag, or at least next to you. When you do so, you will keep them from getting too cold because of your body heat. You can also make your boots more comfortable to wear the next day by throwing their liners inside your sleeping bag for extra warmth.

Since accidents can happen when backpacking, you should always carry a well-stocked first aid kit. This, in addition to wearing safety gear like helmets when engaging in winter outdoor activities, could save your life in case something goes wrong.

Just because you are going away into the wild doesn’t mean that you should forget to pack personal hygiene essentials. Toothpaste, a toothbrush, a trash bag, hand sanitizers, towels, toilet paper, and sealable plastic bags are just but a few of the personal hygiene items that you should never forget to carry.

Les Elfes International camps