Winter isn’t quite over yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to go camping. It’s the time to whip out the parka and hand warmers. If you’re going to hit the trail this winter, remember to keep these tips in mind for a safe, fun experience.
Don’t Eat the Snow
This seems a tad silly to have to say, but if you’re new to camping you might not be aware that chowing down on cold snow is a big no-no. That’s because consuming something that cold can help cool your body down too quickly, resulting in a shock to your system. Instead, if you just can’t resist the urge or find yourself in need of refreshment, place the snow in a pot over the fire and turn it into warm water first.
Watch Your Fire
A lot of people switch to portable heaters during the winter because they view creating a fire in the snow too much of a hassle. It can be done, however, and if you’re going to go that route be sure to keep an eye on your flames. There will likely be enough dry wood and leaves around to unexpectedly catch fire, and you don’t want your campsite to go up in flames.
Don’t Hike in Low Visibility
A blustery snowstorm is difficult to camp in, and even more difficult to navigate during a hike. If the white stuff is falling down heavily enough to impede your view, then be sure to stay put until it clears. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in a white out and just as hard for emergency crews to find you in an emergency. Don’t be afraid to wait it out in your tent if need be.
Have the Right Gear
This should go without saying, but the gear you need to have on hand while camping during the winter is fairly different from what you might normally take into the woods. Be sure to dress in layers, bundle up safely at night and keep some hand warmers nearby. Trekking poles are also a great way to help you trudge through the mounds of white stuff around the campsite.
Change Your Clothes Often
One of the biggest challenges with camping in the snow is keeping yourself dry. Moisture can lead to plenty of issues out on the trail, including frostbite and hypothermia. Your first line of defense is wearing the appropriate gear and being sure to keep it as dry as possible. Be sure to hang your clothes nightly (inside your tent!) and never sleep in the same thing you hiked in that day. A lot of people have their own pair of camping pajamas, which is totally acceptable. If you have a heater that’s safe to have inside the tent with you that can help with drying your clothes and gear overnight.
One of the most common mistakes new campers make is assuming that they should have more on hand during the winter in case of emergency. If you’re packing properly, you should actually have less. Camping in the snow, getting to your campsite in particular, is rough on the body because of the added resistance on the ground. Don’t overdo it when filling your backpack. Dry your clothes during the night rather changing daily and you’ll be able to get by with less in your bag.