10 Winter Camping Items You Shouldn’t Travel Without 

If you are thinking about going on a cold-weather camping trip, preparation is key. Winter weather can be unpredictable, and you will need some additional cozy comforts to make your adventure as fun and rewarding as possible.

Although it’s becoming more popular, winter is still an under-rated time of year to go camping. If you’re ready to brave the cold, winter camping can offer unique experiences that you might not be able enjoy in the summer.

Set up camp in beautiful winter wonderlands, try exciting snow sports, and spend days exploring snow-capped mountains without worrying about bugs or crowds.  

Before you go, make sure you have all of these essential winter camping items, and also check out our guide on winter camping tips.

Winter Camping Gear Must-Haves

1. Four-Season Tent

Image by Daan Weijers

Cold-weather camping can be a great way to spend time in the great outdoors, but it will require a shelter that is designed for protection against the elements. Your tent is the most important piece of gear for a winter camping trip, as it will be your safe place on dark, cold nights.  

A four-season tent is absolutely essential for sleeping outdoors in chilly conditions. These tents are sturdy and well-insulated, with a strong frame for withstanding high winds.

Remember to check if the tent has a footprint for protection against ground moisture and a waterproof rainfly to shield you and your fellow campers from rain or snow. 

Check out our suggestions for the best four-season tents

2. Warm Sleeping Bag

Image by Lucas Canino

A sleeping bag is essential for keeping you warm at night, and you will want to pick one with a winter temperature rating. 

Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag that features down or synthetic insulation. This type of insulation is effective at retaining warmth, and it is also lightweight and easy to pack for a camping trip. 

Sleeping bags come in several styles, including mummy bags, which are often recommended for winter camping. Their narrow design helps to maintain a warm temperature inside the bag. Always choose a bag that is suited for the lowest temperatures you expect to encounter.

Learn more about sleeping bag temperature ratings

3. Insulated Sleeping Pad

Image by Chatewul Kim

A thick, insulated sleeping pad helps to prevent heat loss while you are sleeping outside in cold weather. 

A sleeping pad is an essential piece of winter camping gear, which adds extra insulation by adding an additional layer between you and the frozen ground. It also provides an extra cushion for your comfort and can help you sleep better during the night. 

Shop for sleeping pads and blankets

4. Warm Clothing and Layers 

Image by Pablo Guerrero

Dressing in layers is essential for regulating body temperature in cold weather. 

You should wear a moisture-wicking base layer, followed by insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer layer to stay warm and dry.

It is wise to invest in a good pair of winter hiking pants and a warm hiking jacket so you can stay warm whenever you head out for hikes or adventures. Choose clothing made from synthetic materials that are quick to dry. Wet clothing is not ideal when camping out in the cold.

Learn more about how to layer clothing for winter

Image by Freestocks

Your footwear will depend on the activities you plan on getting up to while you’re winter camping. 

For most activities, it is wise to opt for winter hiking boots that are insulated and waterproof to keep your feet warm and dry. Your boots should have good traction, so you can avoid slipping on snow and ice. Wear them with a pair of warm winter socks for maximum warmth and comfort. 

If you are planning to go mountaineering, you might require microspikes or crampons to navigate through tricky passages of ice and snow. 

Have you ever thought about trying snowshoeing? This fun sport is another great way to explore the snow. 

6. Warm Hat and Gloves

Image by Ren QingTao

Don’t leave for your camping trip without packing a cozy hat and a warm pair of gloves. These items are great for retaining body heat and staying warm.

Heat escapes rapidly from your head. An insulated hat, made from merino wool or fleece, is a good option for trapping in heat around your head. Consider a hat with some waterproofing features to protect against any cold moisture in the air. Here are the warmest winter hats we could find

It’s equally important to have a pair of warm winter gloves to keep your fingers warm. Choose gloves that offer a snug and cozy fit, which allows your fingers to move freely.

Mittens are another good option for cold weather, but bear in mind that you will not have the same dexterity in your fingers for using camping equipment or setting up a tent. 

7. Portable Stove and Fuel

Image by Justin Wolf

While you are camping, you will need to prepare some hot meals and beverages. It’s important to fuel your body properly, drink plenty of water, and eat more calories than normal to keep your energy up whilst you’re braving cold conditions. Choose a camping stove that is designed for winter conditions. 

A reliable stove is an essential device for making warm and delicious meals. Remember to try out some recipes at home before you go, such as simple soups or stews. Learn how to set up, light, and use your camping stove in advance. 

Bring sufficient fuel to heat the stove and enough food and water to last the duration of your trip. Keep your cooking area clean and tidy away mess into a trash bag at the end of every day.

Shop for camping stoves

8. Snow Shovel

Image by Miguel A. Amutio

In situations where you might experience a large amount of unexpected snowfall, a portable snow shovel can be very handy. A useful item to pack into the back of the car, a snow shovel can be used for clearing your campsite or creating a level area for your tent.

Choose a compact and lightweight shovel that is easy to carry. You may not want to take it with you all the time, but if you have enough storage space, it’s an important tool for managing snow buildup around your camping or cooking area. 

It can be used a safety tool in case of emergencies, too. 

9. Flashlight or Headlamp 

Image by Amir Shamsipur

Winter days are short, and it gets dark earlier than the rest of the year. You will require a reliable light source for setting up camp, cooking, and finding your way around in the dark. Bring a headlamp or a flashlight to help guide the way. 

Remember that batteries tend to drain faster in colder conditions, so if your device depends on battery power, bring some extras. Also, bring a power bank to charge up your other technological devices so you can stay connected to the outside world during your camping trip. 

10. First-Aid Kit 

Image by Marthurin NAPOLY/matnapo

Pack a winter-specific emergency kit that includes items like a first-aid supplies, medications, fire-starting materials, a multi-tool, and an emergency blanket. Being prepared for unexpected situations is essential when camping in colder climates.

Shop for more useful first-aid kit items. 

Ready to Head out?

When you are winter camping, it is always wise to remember the following rules:

  • Check weather conditions in advance of your trip, and know when it’s “too cold” to go.
  • Inform someone of your itinerary and expected return date.
  • Practice “Leave No Trace” principles and minimize your impact on the environment.

Read up on how to stay warm inside a tent if you’re tent camping.

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