Warm shelter is crucial for cold-weather camping. Choose a tent that is rated for four seasons. Four-season tents are built with thick materials for warmth and have few mesh ventilation windows, to reduce the entrance of cold air. If you will be camping in the snow or rain, it is important to choose a tent that has a rounded or pitched roof that will not collect heavy snow or rainwater that would cave in the tent roof. The rounded shape of a dome tent works well in the snow and rain. The tent should also have a waterproof rain fly to keep the elements out. Choose a tent that is large enough to house campers as well as the supplies needed for cold-weather camping. Bring snow tent stakes, which are stronger than regular tent stakes, for camping in the snow. For snow camping, you will also need a shovel to clear out and pack down snow at the tent site.
Bring a sleeping bag that has a weather rating for temperatures below the temperatures you will be camping in. A mummy sleeping bag with a hood is the best choice, because it is tight fitting and holds in body heat. Place your sleeping bag inside a bivy sack or put a cloth liner inside your bag for extra warmth. Bring foam sleeping pads to go under each sleeping bag. For very cold weather, bring two foam sleeping pads per tent. The sleeping pads block the cold ground temperature from your body. Bring chemical heat packs and place them inside the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm. Once activated, the chemical heat packs stay warm for up to 12 hours.
Dress in layers for warmth. Start with a full set of thermal underwear for an under layer, followed by warm pants and a warm fleece sweater. Over your clothing, wear a warm jacket with a waterproof windbreaker over it. Wear a warm hat, warm waterproof gloves and thick socks. Your boots should be waterproof. Choose clothing that is made out of fleece, polypropylene, wool or other synthetic materials. These materials are more resistant to water than cotton and stay warmer when wet. Bring plenty of extra clothes to change into, in the event that your clothes get wet.
Your body needs quality nourishment to provide it with the calories and nutrients to stay warm. Choose dehydrated and freeze-dried foods that will not freeze or spoil. Dried meats, nuts, crackers and dried fruits are all excellent and nourishing foods for cold-weather camping. Dehydrated and freeze dried foods can be eaten as is or reconstituted. To reconstitute, simmer in water over a campfire. Bring drinks to heat over the campfire to warm you up in the cold weather. Apple cider, bouillon cubes for broth and tea heat up nicely and make soothing drinks.
Bring a waterproof backpack that is large enough to hold all of your items. Do not forget waterproof, strike-anywhere matches, a campfire pot, cups and eating utensils. Walking poles are useful for snowy weather, to help you navigate through slippery areas. Bring a basic first aid kit for unexpected injuries. Sunscreen is an important but commonly overlooked item that you should have on your camping trip. Even in cold weather, a sunburn is still possible.