Camping in the winter provides special challenges that go above and beyond camping at other times of the year. This is because the cold is responsible for killing and seriously injuring far more people compared to heat. While heatstroke is a definite concern in the summer months, far more people succumb to the cold which makes winter camping considerably more dangerous.
You should not camp in extremely cold conditions when temperatures are well below 0 degrees F for extended periods. However, camping under cold conditions at night with warmer temperatures during the day is not only possible but can be enjoyable if you take along the right gear.
Your winter tent should be insulated, especially the floor area, and come with guylines that secure the tent in one spot. Even if you are not expecting a strong wind, having your tent secure will help keep you warm and safe. Although all winter tents should have some ventilation, it should not allow any strong breeze to penetrate the sides.
Long Tent Stakes
Remember that the ground may be considerably harder during the winter months. You will need strong, long tent stakes to secure your tent. Consider taking along some snow stakes if you expect to camp with snow on the ground. This will help keep your tent secure even on thick snow.
Insulated Sleeping Bags & Pads
It goes without saying that your sleeping bag should be insulated. This will protect you from the cold temperatures and keep you snug and warm. However, you will need some insulated pads to place your sleeping bag on to protect it from the cold coming from the ground. Even if the floor of your tent is insulated, the more layers you put between you and the floor, the better.
There is not enough that can be said about the value of a headlamp. Be sure to carry an extra battery or two. The headlamp can help you find things quickly after the sun goes down. You will be quite grateful to have a headlamp when you need to find valuable items in the dark.
Matches, a lighter, kindling, and some lighting fluid can be invaluable when you need to start a fire. A proper fire will keep you warm and cozy well into the night. Just be sure to put it out before going to bed.
Having fire-starting materials will be quite handy if your shoes or clothing gets wet. Water transfers cold far more efficiently compared to the air. If your clothing becomes wet and the water reaches your skin, you will need to have a heat source quickly to evaporate the water. Otherwise, you may risk getting frostbite or worse.
Water Bottles, Food, and Cooking Gear
A portable stove makes for a great heat source along with cooking food. To keep your water bottles from freezing, put them inside your sleeping bag along with you. Be sure to carry around high-protein snacks that have slow carbohydrates, so your body has the right fuel to stay warm.
And that is the basics of what you need for camping in winter.