Camping in winter offers wonderful experience and the fun you get from it is incomparable. Many outdoor enthusiasts love the pristine winter snow and chilly conditions. You don’t have to deal with bugs, insects and even the crowd that is hectic during summer in various camping destinations. Playing with snow is another major attraction of winter camping. But before you head out, make sure you are equipped with the following essential winter camping gears.
Get ready to upgrade your camping setup, as we take a closer at 10 of the best winter camping gear.
1) Winter Tents
There is a major difference between a summer and winter tent. To tackle gusty winds and snow, the tent should have poles with wide diameter to be more stable and resilient. It should also have some of the key features like multiple vents to reduce condensation and multiple loops which are needed to anchor guy lines during stormy and gusty conditions. It is better to buy tents that have external pole clips than the ones that come with sleeves, because it reduces the tent setup time considerably. If you are looking for a solo tent, then it is better to opt for a two-person tent, so that you have enough space for you and your gears.
2) Sleeping Bags
Finding the right sleeping bag is essential because a good night’s sleep is crucial when camping during winter. Winter sleeping bags should have the ability to seal in warm air. Make sure to check the temperature rating of the sleeping bag and that it is at least 10ºF lower than the expected night temperature range of your camping location. Sleeping bags should have vents that allow you to let off warm air if you get too warm inside. Winter rated sleeping bags with multiple synthetic insulation are available in the market. Check the warmth to weight ratio of the sleeping bag because that determines the quality of your bag.
Nowadays, there are water resistant winter sleeping bags available in the market and buying this will make you worry less about condensation. Winter sleeping bags have warm air insulating features such as draft collars, hoods, and zippers with draft tubes attached behind them. All these features make sure that the bag is warm enough for you to sleep at night regardless of the air temperature. Make sure that the bag is not too tight because that will make you uncomfortable.
3) Sleeping Pads and Liners
If you are to camp in extreme cold conditions, then pads and liners will prove essential. Bag liners add warmth and reduce wear by maintaining the bag clean and tidy. One bag liner can add almost 15ºF in the bag. Pads on the other hand provide insulation and comfort. Full length pads are the best ones and these pads will help eliminate the loss of body heat. Insulation level of pads is rated in terms of R-value, which is a measurement of the ability of the mattress to retain warmth. The higher the R-value, the warmer the sleeping pad. And pads that are rated 1 are least insulated and the quality keeps improving with the number.
4) Winter Boots
When you go summer camping, outdoor boots would be the straightforward choice, but that will not be the case when you are in the market looking for winter shoes. There are exclusive winter mountaineering boots that are tailor made to tackle extreme winter, cold and snowy conditions. They are insulated, waterproof and also have excellent compatible features for both skiing and snowboarding. Warmer winter boots are designed to stick on to wet surfaces to make your hike safe and comfortable. Your feet stay comfortable all the time and this will allow you to enjoy winter hiking adventure for a longer period of time.
Choosing the right winter boots is very important for a comfortable trek. Double boots are perfect for long distance, chilly and high altitudes hikes. Double boots have an outer weatherproof synthetic or plastic layer and an insulated inner layer. If your hike is going to be warmer and on a low altitude, then go for a single layer boot. If you are going to climb predominantly, then go for a stiff sole, and for hikes, opt for a lighter sole. For your information, double boots liners tend to dry off more easily than single layer boots.
If you are looking for a skiing compatible boot, then check the following. For flat touring, you may need a 2-buckle low cuff boots. For descents, it is recommended to go for a 4-buckle high cuff boots. Mid cuff 3-buckle boots are quite popular amongst winter and summer campers alike.
Those of you who have been thinking that summer backpacks are huge, well, think again. Winter backpacks require additional gear and it automatically becomes enormous, so make sure that you select an appropriate backpack to accommodate all the winter gears. Giant backpack is the only way to store all your essential winter gears. Many people commit the mistake of fitting in all the gears in a small backpack and struggle to repack at the camping site. If you are going on a lightweight direction, then you need to have a backpack which is at least 65-liter, and for those heavy-duty winter campers, be sure to get a backpack which is 85+ liter. Lash points are necessary if you are going to carry skiing shoes.
Wondering how to choose a backpack for your next outdoor adventure? Then read this blog: How to choose a backpack?
6) Snow Shoes
Winter shoes with floating bindings are suitable for thick snow conditions, whereas for a packed snow terrain, fixed bindings will do just fine. Gaiters that are waterproof and knee high should be preferred. Similarly, for open terrain deep snow trek, shoes with wider surface area should be chosen. Smaller snow shoes will make your trek comfortable through dense forest.
7) Ground Clothes
Ground clothes act as tent protectors by preventing water from seeping in at night. Tarps can be used as ground cloths, but there are tent footprints tailor made for the tent you buy. You can buy these separately from all major outdoor gear stores.
Enough source of lighting and batteries is crucial for night winter camping. Winter nights are longer than that of summer, so make sure that your flashlight and other lamp gears are fully charged or you have additional batteries to make them glow at all times. There is no harm in carrying additional batteries. Lithium batteries are good, but make sure that you carry appropriate rating compatible batteries suitable for the devices you have. If your device runs only on Alkaline batteries, then make sure to carry enough of them because these batteries drain out very easily.
9) Communication Equipment
Winter campers seldom carry this essential winter camping safety gear. Winters can become unpredictable, so always carry a communication device for your safety. Cellphone coverage will be non-existent in most winter camping locations, so two-way radios, satellite phones and messengers are the best communication devices to carry.
Winter campers generally tend to schedule their trip for a longer period of time than summer campers, so buying a sled is very important before your very first group winter camping adventure. A sled is very useful because it reduces the weight on your back and gives you the opportunity to carry additional winter gears. At the same time, sleds are not suitable for all climatic conditions. A sled is used predominately by group winter campers, and it is important to make sure that all the members of the group possess enough experience pulling the sled on a snowy condition.
Never head into the great outdoors unprepared. It's always a good idea to take your time to plan and prepare for all the challenges that Mother Nature might through at you. Whatever your preference, there’s no doubt these 10 winter camping essentials will help make your trip more exciting, safer, and memorable. And lastly always remember even just a few camping essentials can go a long way.