Winter camping often evokes images of snow caves and icy forests. That is sometimes, but not always, the case. Winter camping also embraces the frigid winters of the desert (cold, but mostly dry) and the grasslands (bitterly wind-swept). The main concern in all winter environments is being prepared for the cold. That is what separates a winter camping kit from camping kits for other times of the year.
The first clothing rule of winter camping is avoid cotton, if at all possible. Cotton loses its insulating properties when it gets wet. It also is slow to dry. Pack long-johns made of silk, nylon, polypropylene or wool. You also will need two or three pair of socks and sock liners, made from the same materials. Next, pack two pair of pants and shirts and a sweater, preferably all made of wool. The last item is your outer shell. If you're camping in the desert, you may need waterproof gear, but everywhere else it's essential. Gore-Tex is a popular material for shell pants and your coat, jacket or parka. Must-have accessories include mittens (not gloves), a warm wool or fleece hat and snow goggles.
Even in a snowy forest, sunscreen is essential. Snow reflects the sun's rays very well, increasing your chances of getting a sunburn. You'll need a fire--and waterproof matches to start it. One of the quickest ways to get warm and have clean drinking water is to melt fresh snow. You also will need at least two cooking pots, one for hot beverages and the other for your food. Also, it gets dark quickly in the winter, so you'll need flashlights. And bring spare batteries and spare light bulbs.
If you're camping in a snowy area, you will need snowshoes and/or cross-country skis. You'll need a good pad to insulate the ground, and a sleeping bag that is rated for the worst winter weather you can possibly encounter. Finally, remember that winter camping demands a lot of calories just to stay warm. Backpackers choose foods with a high calorie-to-weight ratio, such as nuts or pasta. You should too.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.