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Everything you need to know about winter camping

So, winter camping. You’ve seen dream-worthy photos (wow!), you’ve heard people rant and rave about it (amazing!) and now you want to know what all the fuss is about, but… you haven’t been brave enough to take the plunge. Isn’t it too cold to sleep outside in January? Won’t I freeze to death? Of course not! Not if you are well-equipped. The dos & don’ts and what to pack: we have put together everything you need to know about how to make winter camping your new favourite thing!

The essentials

Going winter camping without the right gear is not only frustrating, it’s downright dangerous. Before throwing yourself headfirst into a winter adventure, make sure that all of your equipment is up to snuff. Test out your gear in your backyard or pitch your tent somewhere where you can quickly warm up inside if hypothermia starts to creep in.

All-season tent

You may already have a really great tent, but if it isn’t an all-season tent, it won’t be doing you any favours on your winter camping escapade. To embark on a winter camping adventure, you will need a tent that can withstand heavy winds and snow, poles with sharp-pointed ends that can anchor into the ice, a secure fly cover and enough room for a large entryway.

A proper sleeping bag and sleeping pad

The same goes for your sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Don’t even think about nestling into layers of clothing or blankets to stay warm. You run the risk of overheating during the night and sweating through your clothes (which will freeze more quickly) or being too cold and unable to sleep. To truly enjoy your experience, shell out the cash for a sleeping bag and sleeping pad that are specifically designed for temperatures below -20 C. Trust us, it’s worth it. When it comes to winter camping gear, you’re not only paying for higher-quality items, but most brands also offer a lifetime warranty on their products.

How can you top off your winter camping experience? Bring a small lantern to create a cozy atmosphere, eliminate moisture and provide extra heat.

Tips for staying warm

Layers, layers, layers

Layering is the key to making sure that you don’t freeze when you are out and about. If you plan on getting your blood pumping, your best bet is to layer a combination of merino wool sweaters and leggings (breathable and quick-drying) underneath a hardshell jacket (water-resistant, breathable and windproof). If you can feel the cold through your clothes during your first few minutes outside, don’t panic, your body will warm up once you start moving. It’s better to be shivering a little bit initially than to drench your clothes in sweat and freeze later on. When you decide to call it a day, it’s a good idea to change sweaters and throw on a goose-down vest underneath your hardshell jacket to provide immediate comfort.

Make a fire

Pro tip: as soon as you arrive at your campsite, don’t wait until it gets dark to start a fire. Starting a fire should be at the top of your checklist. We recommend getting one going as soon as you arrive. Once your fire is crackling away, you can come and go as you please and warm up whenever you need. Then, all you have to do is add a few logs to keep it burning until nightfall.

The sooner you light a fire, the sooner you can boil water and cook food. But don’t wait too long. Eating warm food and sipping on hot drinks will slowly elevate your body temperature. You want to take those precious extra degrees with you as you head into your tent for the night. Eat, drink and do your business before going to sleep so that you won’t have to get up in the middle to the night. Enjoy a bit of stargazing and then zip into your tent, hop into your sleeping bag and relax.

If you still think that you are going to be too cold, fill a hot water bottle with warm water and put it underneath your clothes before going to sleep. Once you’ve pitched your tent, why not hang a few lanterns and light some candles to help suck any excess moisture out of your fly cover? Mood lighting guaranteed!

Get moving with these winter activities

Winter camping wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a winter activity either before or after a good night’s sleep. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating or tobogganing are all surefire ways to warm up, all while having a bit of fun. If you decide to set up camp off the beaten track, your skis or snowshoes will come in handy when getting you where you need to go!

It is important to make sure that all of your gear is in good condition and that you have everything you need to repair it if you decide to go on a multi-day adventure.

Still feeling a bit unsure? Speak with one of our in-store specialists!