Who said you could only go camping during the warmer months? With proper planning, you can enjoy camping in winter in the same way you would in summer. Camping during the winter is an enjoyable experience, and I can tell you from experience that nothing compares to the tranquility of the white scenery. It feels like time stops and you are surrounded by snow and ice, and every once in awhile, an animal will cross your path.
By now, every serious camper should have learned that a safe trip requires proper planning and preparation. While you can use your survival mindset to improvise and make do with what nature has to offer during the warmer months, winter is a game-changer.
People can easily succumb to hypothermia or get nasty frost bites even with adequate clothing. The main rule to keep in mind is to stay dry and warm. Hydration and food intake comes only after you set up your tent or build a shelter.
Before you start packing, I advise you to take a look at the essential best survival backpacks. You will find the proper backpack to put all your stuff in it. Depending on your stay in the wilderness, you may have to carry a lot of things in order to survive the cold of winter months.
Outlined below are 10 winter camping and survival tips you should know of.
Plan your travels accordingly:
Winter days are considerably shorter than in summer. Proper planning is therefore recommended, especially if you have to hike to the campsite. Now when the sun goes down and make sure you are not caught up wandering around during the nighttime.
You should have your routes mapped, and you should let someone know where you are going and how much time do you plan on spending there. You should always be able to get in touch with a loved one or rescuing parties if need be. This means that you should be able to build a signaling fire and you should have your mobile phone on you at all times.
Never go camping alone:
It wouldn’t be wise to go camping alone in winter. The weather can be quite unpredictable, which again makes it hard to get out of a sticky situation or emergency alone. Ask a friend or two to accompany you for the adventure.
That being said, make sure your friends know a thing or two about camping (especially winter camping) otherwise they will just be dead weight. Everyone should have proper gear and clothing for the weather you will be facing, but also enough food (with proper calorie intake) to last for the entire trip.
Mind the weather:
Check the weather forecast for days to come before leaving your worm. As mentioned earlier, you can’t be sure about the weather during this time of the year. The weather can change unexpectedly, and you need to learn how to shelter yourself from a storm. Your tent is designed to withstand certain weather conditions so make sure it is suited for winter camping and accompanying weather.
There are many ways to tell the weather, and there are signs you can read to figure out if a storm is coming or not. You can become your own weather forecaster by learning how our ancestors used to predict the weather.
Let a friend or family member know when to expect you back.
Leave keys to your house with them or something else. Besides having someone taking care of your belongings and pets, the most trustworthy people in your life should know about your whereabouts. As I said previously, let them know where you are going and be sure to mention how long you will be gone.
If no one knows where you are headed, there will be no one looking for your body in case something happens and you don’t make it back. This may sound awful but tragedies do occur in the wilderness, especially during bad weather.
Bring extra clothing and food:
Plans can change due to bad weather or other forms of delay. The extra food and clothes will come in handy if there are delays. If you are snowed in, you will have to ration your food and that won’t be ideal if you have to dig yourself out.
Every activity you do during wintertime takes a toll on your energy levels, and you will burn energy faster than you can refill it. This is why it is absolutely mandatory to carry in your backpack the foods recommended for winter camping. I wrote about such foods in this article.
Choose the right spot for the campsite:
Look out for dead trees, heavy limbs, and overhanging branches that could succumb to weight falling on your tent.
Consider building a snow wall around the tent to cushion you from the chilling winds.
If you don’t have a quality tent, you need to find other ways to protect yourself from the elements, especially the wind. Some tents require an added layer of protection to keep you safe, and during the winter season, nothing beats a snow wall around your tent, a half igloo if you want.
In extreme conditions, you can build a solid base around your tent using snow blocks and use it to sustain the snow that will cover the tent. This was a method used in the old days when synthetic materials designed to withstand harsh weather weren’t available, but if you lack a proper tent, it will help you survive the night.
Set up the tent such that the door is facing away from the wind.
Positioning your tent to face downhill is a general rule, and it should be used year-round. Also, you should look around and carefully analyze your surroundings for other dangers that may disturb your stay.
Tuck a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag before going to bed.
This should provide you with the much-needed warmth during cold nights. However, don’t use your drinkable water and melt snow for this purpose. When it’s really cold, I keep one bottle at my feet and one bottle near the torso. This helps me sleep better and I don’t wake up with a stiff back.
Create a checklist for the camping adventure before leaving the house, or even packing the bag.
Be sure to include sunglasses, an extra flashlight battery, and lip balm in the list. These will come in handy when out in the cold. I don’t think there’s the need to mention that you should also include a mountain survival first aid kit, this should be common sense by now.
If you are not sure what should go on the checklist, remember that during the wintertime (and actually, all other camping seasons), shelter, adequate clothing, water, and food are the main priorities.
Camping during the winter months is much more dangerous compared to the rest of the year. You need proper planning and preparation if you want to make it back home. I advise you to start small (one weekend) at first since you will have a lot to learn even from a short experience. Establish what went wrong and what you figured out from the first try and learn from your mistakes. Experience is acquired in the field and you need time before becoming a proper winter camper.
Suggested resources for survivalists: