Winter Camping Hacks | How to Keep Warm Camping and 7 Other Tips

These winter camping hacks will become an essential part of your cold weather camping strategy. Because, if we’re being honest, staying warm when you’re winter camping can be a challenge. 

It can also be a blast when you know how to keep warm camping. So, read the tips below to find out how easy it can be, along with several other important tips for camping in wintertime.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn cold-weather camping tips including:

5 Top Benefits for Camping In Cold 

Camping when the weather is warm is one thing, but have you considered camping in the wintertime? 

Consider these good reasons for cold-weather camping.

  1. The campsites and trails will be less crowded.
  2. Animals walk more freely through the forest as a result, so you may have more nature encounters. 
  3. When the snow falls silently over scenic places, it can be especially magical (not to mention a great photo opportunity!)
  4. With the lower temperatures, there are less bugs to, er…bug you.
  5. Without any summer haze in the atmosphere, crisp nights will offer amazing stargazing opportunities. 

Doesn’t it sound amazing? 

Before you go, you’ll have to do a little extra planning for a cold-weather camping trip. That’s because while you’re camping in winter, you won’t have the luxury of warm, insulated rooms to keep yourself comfortable.

Don’t worry though, if you follow these tips, it will be worth it.

7 Best Camping in Winter Tips

To make the most of your camping trip in chilly weather, here are seven winter camping hacks and cold-weather camping tips.

1. Choose the Right Tent

Although bigger might usually be better, a smaller tent in the colder months will do wonders for staying comfortable. This is because the cold air will circulate more in a large open space like a big tent. 

So, if you are planning to camp with your significant other, then it’s best to avoid taking a 7-sleeper tent. Instead, opt for the 2-sleeper. In this tiny tent, you’ll have better success keeping warm and feeling cozy – especially once you’re cuddled up to one another! 

On the other hand, try to avoid sleeping against the side of the tent since it tends to get wet from condensation.

Additionally, it is a good idea to invest in a high-quality tent that is completely waterproof. Don’t skimp here. You want to avoid any midnight leaks that will leave you feeling damp and miserable the following morning. Make sure you get a waterproof tent that can withstand heavy downpours. 

Even with a good 4-season, small tent, if you’re camping in the coldest weather, you can safely do a few more things to keep it warm inside the tent:

How to Insulate a Tent for Winter Camping

  • Use the tent tarp to block the wind
  • Build a wind-break with snow
  • Cover the tent with a thermal blanket
  • Line the interior with warm fabric
  • Insulate beneath the tent with a waterproof fabric or tent footprint
  • Put foam padding and/or rugs on the tent floor

You’ll also want to choose a good winter camping sleeping bag.

2. Keep Dry | Winter Camping Hacks

There’s only one thing worse than being too cold on a camping trip and that is being too cold and wet. The right clothes and footwear are essential.

Therefore, wear waterproof clothing whenever it starts to rain, including your boots which should be kept as dry as possible at all times. 

Remember that when you are in an environment with colder air and less sunlight, as when you’re winter camping, you’ll find it much more difficult to air dry damp clothes or equipment. 

3. Food Is Fuel

Whether you’re camping in the middle of a forest or just stargazing in your back garden, gathering around an outdoor fire pit is the ideal way to keep you warm. It’s also a really important part of preparing food while you’re winter camping.

You want to ensure that you are getting at least three hot meals per day to fuel all of the exciting activities on your itinerary.

Make an event of cooking up a nutritious, hot meal and you’ll go to bed feeling all comfortable and satiated. A full belly is a happy belly.

And if you were hoping to get the best night’s sleep possible, then a nice cup of hot cocoa or a glass of whiskey should do the trick!

Related Article: Read about the best hiking snacks here.

4. Layer Up

Even though it might be chilly out there, packing loads of snuggly jumpers is just not workable when all you have is a backpack to store them in. 

The solution is to make sure you choose plenty of thin layers to take with you instead. These will provide you with all the warmth you’ll need, since air gets trapped between each item of clothing for better insulation. 

Better still, when you get too hot hiking to your next campsite, you can easily remove layers and put them away in your backpack. In this way, you have a form of adjustable climate control.

5. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated might not be as easy as it sounds when temperatures are low. You may not realize it, but when you don’t hydrate enough in higher altitudes as in winter hiking, you can get  dehydrated more quickly than ordinary.

So, you’ll need to carry a water bottle with you at all times. Problem is, though, the water can freeze when you’re winter camping! That means before your trip, you’ll want to get an insulated bottle to prevent your water supply from freezing. 

6. Protect Your Gadgets

Electronic devices and extreme temperatures do not go well together.  Your gadgets can lose power much faster, completely shut down, or even become permanently damaged in cold weather. 

Therefore, if you’re going to take electronics on your camping trip, then you must protect them – especially if you rely on them for navigation or communicating with family at home. What’s worth than readying to capture a perfect moment in nature and your camera is dead? Ugh.

A great tip for keeping them nice and toasty at night is to store them in your sleeping bag with you. That way, they will benefit from your body heat. 

You can bundle all of your devices in a dry bag so they don’t go missing in the bottom of your sleeping bag or backpack. Keeping them together this way also keeps them within easy reach should you need them. 

Even if you conserve power and keep them warm, over time you are going to need to recharge your electronics. If your car is nearby and you have the appropriate adapters, you can recharge your devices every once in a while. Solar powered chargers are a practical option, especially if you’re off the grid and far from your vehicle and other power sources.

7. Elevate Yourself Off The Ground

Even when you have filled your belly, dried yourself off, and bundled loads of layers on, you can still end up having a very chilly night’s sleep if you don’t elevate your sleeping back. You want it off the ground. 

That’s because most of the cold that you’ll feel rises up from the Earth. Therefore, elevating yourself off the ground using a camping bed and a foam mattress will give you much better insulation. The result will be a more comfortable sleep while camping in winter. 

Final Thoughts on Best Winter Camping Hacks

While some may hesitate at the idea of winter camping, there is no reason to be put off by it now that you know how to stay warm camping in the winter. You can make it fun, safe, and fuss-free using these seven simple tips for cold weather. 

In fact, once you try it, you may just wonder why you haven’t gone sooner.  

If you’re still not convinced winter camping is your thing, then you can back it up a season and go camping in fall. Or, give glamping a try instead for a more luxury outdoor experience.


Photo credits: tent in snow -Nathan Karsgaard, boots – Emma Dau, deer – Aaron Huber (Unsplash)

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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