How to Keep Warm When You’re Winter Camping

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How to Keep Warm When You’re Winter Camping

Not quite ready to put away your camping gear for the season? Don’t let the cold weather deter you, get out there and enjoy winter from the frontlines. When you wake up in the mountains, peer out of your tent and see the world before you glistening with a light layer of snow, you’ll be glad you stuck it out instead of staying inside.

First timers, are you wondering how to get started? Well, we’ve gathered some intel from REI, BuzzFeed, Scouting Magazine, and other reputable publications to show you how to survive your next winter camping trip.

Build a Fire

Nathan Leavitt and his brother go fly fishing for the first time and shoot this photo while they’re waiting for their hands to warm up. (PC:

The first step is to build a fire. Do this before you set up camp. The residual ambient heat will help keep your energy level up so you’re still motivated to pitch a tent, prepare a meal, and venture out to find more firewood later.

The Three W’s

Top layers for cold midwinter conditions . (PC: Free the Hills.)

Every cold-weather camper needs to dress for the occasion. You’ll need a wicking layer (long underwear), a “warm” layer (fleece) and a “wind” layer (waterproof shell).

Pack the Snow

Students pack down snow as part of a semester school field trip. (PC: Conserve School Blog)

Before set­ting up your tent, pack down your camp­site. If you have skis or snow­shoes, that means tramp­ing around hard until all the snow is packed. If you’re just using your own boots, this will take some time. Either way, if you don’t do this, you run the risk of step­ping into a soft bit of snow in your tent and tear­ing the floor.

Don’t Get Cold Feet

Warm up your feet with a water bottle at night. (PC: REI Staff)

Put boiling water in your water bottle and sleep with it at your feet.

Clothes for Tomorrow

Preheat your clothes for tomorrow and keep yourself warm while sleeping, at the same time. (PC: REI Staff)

Wear all of your clothes when sleeping. and if there’s room in your sleeping bag, bring your clothes for the next day with you.That way, you can change without having to leave the warmth of your cozy sleeping bag and tomorrow’s outfit will be nice and toasty by the time you’re ready to wake up and put them on.

Drink Lots of Fluids

A skier drinking water during winter. (PC: Valerie Latona)

Stay hydrated. Your body has its own way of keeping you warm, by activating those involuntary muscle spams triggered by freezing temperatures, aka, the shivers. It can be exhausting when you spend a day shaking from the cold and your muscles might be sore when the time comes to get some shut eye. Drink lots of water to help keep your body temperature regulated so you can stay motivated through the trip.

Extended Battery Life

Save your batteries by protecting them from freezing temperatures. (PC: The Kim Komando Show)

Keep your flashlight batteries in your sleeping bag to extend their life.

Choose the Right Campsite

Woman inside tent set in winter forest. (PC: Family Tent)

Summer campers might prefer the shadiest and most secluded spot. In winter, however, the morning sun can be a welcome companion. Take note of where the sun will first appear at sunrise, and angle your tent to take advantage of the early rays while shielding the door from the wind.

Midnight Snack

Chili cheese fries over a campfire. (PC: BuzzFeed)

The ladies at Off the Grid Outdoor Adventures chomp on a snack before bed. Try munching on something high in protein which will keep your digestive system working longer than simple sugars.

When in Doubt, Build an Igloo

Inside view of a snow trench built from skis and ski sticks. (PC: Korpijaakko)

In the most extreme situation you might find that building an igloo is advantageous. Don’t know how to build a temporary home composed solely of snow? Here’s an awesome how-to guide for building your own snow shelter.

Not into infographics? Check out this instructional video from the 1940s to see how you can build an igloo using only a knife and some snow.