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5 Essential Winter Camping Tips

Winter is officially here. Use these tips to stay warm and have fun on your next winter camping adventure.

By: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics + Save to a List

The cold weather and wet or snowy conditions should not stop anyone from enjoying the great outdoors.  Here at Leave No Trace our Traveling Trainers camp over 250 nights a year and the winter does not stop them, so do not let it stop you.  Here are five easy steps to staying warm!

Tip 1. Check the weather! This is something that we always encourage no matter what the season, but it is especially important when the temperatures can drop dramatically. Once you know before you go you can plan your clothes accordingly.  Always remember to dress like an onion, layers are your friend! Layers will keep you warm and create the ability for you to add or subtract layers to keep your body comfortable while enjoying the outdoors.  Think about using Smartwool layers to reduce moisture.

Tip 2. Snow is a great durable surface, once it is thick enough (we recommend 6 inches) it becomes a surface ready for most outdoor activities.  So whether you like to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or just play in the snow make sure you are wearing the right type of shoes for your activity.  Waterproof layers are a must when playing in the snow, keep your feet happy and you will be comfortable for hours.  You can also put foot warmers inside your shoes to keep your feet toasty.

Tip 3. Keeping warm at night can be a challenge. Follow steps one and two, wear layers to bed and have proper footwear (wool socks). A warm sleeping bag is great and adding a sleeping bag liner really helps. For those really cold nights use a hot water bottle to stay warm for hours.  All you need to do is boil some water before bed, pour the hot water in your plastic water bottle (like a nalgene) and place that water bottle in a sock so that you do not burn yourself and cuddle that bottle for hours of warmth.  It is also important to think about what you are sleeping on. The layer that insulates you from the cold ground is key to keeping warm. Think about adding a blanket or choosing a thicker pad in the winter.  If you are in a trailer and are able to plug in a heating blanket this makes a great layer of insulation between you and the ground.

Tip 4. Eat chocolate. No seriously keep yourself properly fed for your outdoor activities and so that your body has fuel to keep yourself warm.  Sugars get processed faster and are able to heat your body faster than other food, so feel free to eat that chocolate!

Tip 5. Use the bathroom before you go to bed. That makes less "stuff" for your body to keep warm at night and also keeps you from getting out of your warm sleeping bag in the middle of the night to do your business. If you are camping in an area where catholes are necessary think about pre-digging a cathole before bed to minimize time outside if you need to go in the middle of the night.

Travel Well,

Amanda and Greg - Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Team East Central

Leave No Trace’s Amanda Neiman and Greg Smith are part of the 2016 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Fjallraven, ENO, Deuter, Thule, Taxa Outdoors and SmartWool.

Cover Photo: Scott Kranz

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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