If you are going camping in winter, there is no room for gear mistakes. Having the right gear is of the highest importance if you are going for winter camping and here we bring help with making the right winter camping checklist. Let’s get started here with the best winter camping excursion.
- Sleep system
- Camp kitchen
- Food and water
- Snow gear
- Navigation tools
- First aid
- Winter clothing
- Emergency kit
- Tools and accessories
- Extras and personal items
Winter is the harshest season of the time to go in the backcountry and only the right equipment can keep you safe and happy. And here, the gear that you need is different from summer or any other time and definitely should have the right idea of what do you need. To make sure you will not miss anything important behind, start packing with a winter camping checklist here.
Unlike 3 season backpacking, you here need more consideration on backpack and storage as you have more gear for winter camping. Choose a backpack with a solid frame and more capacity. With that, you can pack all your winter camping essentials comfortably with no complaints about heavy loads.
It is fine to be on the weight-saving side at winter camping too but priority should go to durability, capacity, and waterproof qualities. Think about a 50L or even larger backpack and have stuff sacks to organize other gear properly.
A reliable 4-season tent is going to be the shelter during your winter camping and that should be composed of a tent body, tent poles/ trekking poles, guylines, snow stakes, and a rainfly.
The 4-season tent you are going to take for winter camping should be of the right balance of weight, weather shield, and strength. Here, regular tent stakes will have more chance to pull out once they are placed and should secure the hold by burying them sideways. Otherwise, it is good to replace with snow stakes for better support overall.
Note: Remember to have an extra rope, extra stakes, and a tent repair kit
To ensure you are comfortable at night and stay warm enough, you should be prepared for the right sleep system. There are winter-specific sleeping gears designed to keep you warm and comfortable on very cold nights.
Make sure your winter sleep system include:
- Winter sleeping bag or quilt
- Insulated sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag liners
- Foam sleeping pad
- Pillow or stuff sack
When it comes to picking sleeping bags and sleeping pads for winter camping, you can find lightweight, warm, and extremely comfortable options with a wide variety of selections today. And by adding a closed-cell foam pad to your winter camping checklist, you can expect more warmth under the air pad and can use it to sit when you are on a break
While not all camping stoves are compatible with winter weather conditions, think about a solid option that can work well in any weather. The one you are choosing should be fast, reliable, and easy to handle with gloves on. Make sure you check for the best simmer control to perform all well in cold weather camping.
When you are planning to set up your camping stove in snow, you will need a stove platform. While I used to have a DIY option you can even use the back of your shovel.
For ease of use, try an all-in-one cooking system both to make food and boil water. And depending on the number of campers, take camping mugs/ cups, spoons, and any other as you feel essential.
Food and water
While you are winter camping, calories will burn double as usually, it does. To stay fueled you will need plenty of snacks and tasty, hot meals. Take freeze-dried meals that you can make easily and pack as much as energy bars, plenty of snacks, and more meals you will always love to have. Make sure you pack extra meals than you planned as you may sometimes have to stay more days in winter camping than you explained.
Together with food, it is important to choose a convenient food storage method. And there, bear canisters and Ursacks are very effective and find easy to use.
Water is of utmost importance when it comes to winter camping as refilling water can be a trouble. And here in winter camping, the only way to get water is melting snow. So there, bring as much as water to drink and have them properly insulated. If you are wishing to use melting snow, bring the essentials to boil them up to a usable level.
Never go winter camping without snow gear. The gear you will need going to depend on your winter camping plans. But adding the following will be beneficial to do all well.
- Trekking poles with snow baskets
- Snowshoes or backcountry skis
- Snow shovel for safety
- Sled to carry gear (this is optional gear)
For snowy trips, winter boots are essential and can work compatible with your snowshoes to keep your feet comfortably dry and warm. But all above, make the right decision on snowshoes to match right with your terrain and conditions out there.
And for snow-scaping needs, make sure you have a snow shovel that is lightweight. Having an extendable handle will be an advantage and with a flat top edge, it would be easier for you to even kick through fully packed snow.
Navigation is of utmost importance when you are going winter camping and remember not to risk yourself at any point. Winter is the harshest time of the year to camp and navigation is a challenge with varying conditions. There, be prepared with the map of your area, GPS, or even with a reliable camping app so as not to get lost.
The followings are our recommendations for navigation equipment:
- A complete map of the area with a waterproof map case
- Compass with clinometer feature
- Guidebook for all route descriptions
- Satellite messenger/ beacon
- Smart app with offline map viewing support
Just like in any other backcountry trip in any weather, a reliable first-aid kit is a right place for you to start planning your winter camping. There are different types of camping first aid kits you can buy with essentials packed or you can buy them separately to make a personalized first aid kit for you.
Make sure you have the following in your kit,
- Band-aids of different sizes
- Antibiotic lotion
- Gauze pads
- Latex gloves
- Tweezers and scissors
- Tape/ Ace wrap
- Safety pins
If you are having any complications when exposed to cold weather, be prepared with particular medications along with the essentials above.
To stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter excursion, you must pick the right cold-weather-appropriate clothing. Be prepared for extreme cold conditions and also storms.
- Waterproof winter jacket
- Hardshell jacket for extra cold protection
- Warm, weather-resistant pants
- Baselayers (recommended Merino wool), pack extra
- Midlayer (synthetic options)
- Baselayer top and bottom
- Hiking pants
- Warm socks (pack extras)
- Waterproof gloves and fleece gloves
- Fleece hat to protect head and ears
- Sun hat to use when hiking (optional)
- Underwear (pack extras)
- Sunglasses or goggles (to protect your eyes from sunburns)
Did you know; snowshoes either make your winter trip make or break your trip. Footwear is important in the same way as winter clothing to stay comfortable and warm. Make sure you pick a quality pair of snowshoes to fit well with your terrain and types of activities.
- Lightweight backcountry skis
- Waterproof hiking shoes
- Winter hiking boots
- Snow gaiters (optional)
- Down booties (optional gear)
Winter weather is harsh and may come in any emergencies. And here I list down some equipment you should have in an emergency kit to survive well in cold weather camping. You can make it up to a personalized kit by adding any further items.
- A whistle
- Sleeping pad patch necessaries
- Duct or Tenacious Tape for repairing needs
- Needle and thread
- Firestarter and emergency tinder
- Backup water treatment pills (Chlorine Dioxide)
- A backup lighter
Tools and accessories
Different from other 3-season camping, in winter you have to take the right tools and accessories that you might feel like you need at the site. These can be varied on personal preferences and make sure not to miss anything essential behind.
- Camping pocket knife or multi-tool
- Ice axe
- Mobile phone with waterproof case
- Camera with a waterproof case or Ziploc (take an extra battery)
- Power bank and charging cords
- Headlamp with fully charged batteries
- Lantern or any light system for the area
- Torch and extra batteries
- Some cash, credit card, ID, and insurance card
- Some Ziploc bags
- Notebook, pencil, or pen
- Campsite pass and trail pass if required
Extras and personal items
No matter where you are going to camp, there is always a list of personal items and extras you should have packed. Add the essentials to your winter camping checklist too. However, before the excursion, get the needed haircuts, shave clip nails, and be ready.
- Hand sanitizer
- Lip balm with SPF
- Toilet paper rolls and body wipes together with a zip bag
- Menstrual and urinary products
- Sanitation trowel or wag bag
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Prescription drugs, vitamins, etc.
- Body lotion to prevent skin from getting dry
- Comb, hair ties and etc
- Quick-drying towels (regular and a hand towel)
- Insect repellent
These are the essentials you should consider adding up to your winter camping checklist. But depending on the duration, weather conditions, distance from contact, activities planned, etc., do tailor the checklist.