5 Essential Items For Camping In The Cold

By: Mackenzie Walters |

Camping is a fun and exciting outdoor activity as many people would say, but when it comes to packing everything you need, having to make a checklist isn’t as appealing as the camping itself. Another not so appealing part of camping is being cold. If you spend all your time worrying about this, you won’t be able to enjoy the trip and truly capture what you experienced.  Below are five categories of things you will need to pack for camping in the cold.



1. Warm Clothes

Four people stand at the base of a mountain with all of their gear.

Going camping in a basic long sleeve shirt is not going to cut it when cool turns to cold. You will need something more extensive that involves layering up. For the first layer, you will want to pack something form fitting that is going to keep your body heat in. Keeping your body heat it in is crucial, but you are going to need more than one layer. Your middle layer should be something with insulation and isn’t too difficult to take off or put on throughout the day. You then are going to want a heavy coat that will keep your heat in, while also protecting you from getting wet.

Bottoms are going to have similar expectations. You are going to want something that traps your body heat and protects you from getting wet. Thermal underwear are a good choice for the bottom layer. Fleece pants are great for keeping in the heat, but they do not protect you from moisture. Insulated snowboard pants or something of the like is perfect for that outer layer protecting you from getting wet.

Wool has the ability to absorb perspiration into its fiber,  so it maintains a layer of dry air next to the skin. This means that wool assists in holding your body heat. You will want to consider this in your choice of hats, gloves, and socks. Cotton allows heat to escape and if wet, will make you colder than before. It does not have that same amount of ‘dry air’ to keep you dry and warm.

Choosing boots are an important part of camping in the cold as well. You don’t want a boot that is going to weigh you down when trying to trudge through the snow. You want something that will keep your feet warm and still allow you to utilize your energy toward more important things. Characteristics of good boots include warmth, waterproof, and traction.


2. Reliable Shelter

If you are going to rely on a tent, your thin, basic summer tent won’t be enough. You are going to need a tent that is made for cold weather. Some features of a cold weather tent include a thick waterproof shell, a wood burning stove chimney, wind resistance, and a vestibule. Sleeping bags are also going to play a huge role in keeping your body heat in. Any cold weather sleeping bag will do fine. You should consider using two sleeping padsYou can also keep warm by placing rugs or other materials on the floor of your tent.


3. Proper Food & Drink

A woman sits by her tent with a hot drink in her hand.

Packing food in the winter isn’t as simple as some may think. Anything containing water will freeze over, so it may be a good idea to meal prep before the trip. Eating all of the right nutrients is important when your body is enduring freezing temperatures and walking through the heavy snow all day. Breakfast foods may include oatmeal, a granola bar, and a hot drink. The oatmeal will give you the energy you need to start the day while the hot drink such as coffee, hot chocolate, or tea will keep you warm in the cold hours of the morning. Sandwiches make for an easy lunch. You will want to pre-slice your deli meats and cheese to avoid having them freeze into one chunk. This will also make your prep time at camp much faster.  Eating snacks like jerky, cheese, crackers and trail mix throughout the day will keep you energized. Dinner ideas may include chicken fajitas, stews, chili, and burritos. These are also meals you will want to prepare before the trip. It will lessen water content and weight.


4. Travel Gear

A person is hiking the side of a mountain with skis on their back.

If you are going to be camping in an area that receives a great amount of snow, you will want to consider how you will be traveling.

Snowshoes, skis, and a snowboard all make for easy traveling. If you are going to be in an area with less snow, putting crampons on your boots will be enough to keep traction.


5. Safety Equipment

Hypothermia is not something you want to play around with, so it is important to stay warm. You should not wait until you are absolutely freezing to try and get warm. This is where it becomes dangerous. An emergency warming blanket should be ready to use at all times. If you are camping at a place with a lot of snow or high elevation, you will want to consider equipment for extreme scenarios such as an avalanche or limited oxygen.



Remember, you want to stay warm at all times. Wearing multiple layers and using the appropriate gear mentioned above will allow you to achieve this. The last thing anyone wants while camping is worrying about how they can keep their body heat in to stay warm. If you are wrapped up in blankets in your tent the whole time, you won’t really be camping. Follow this guide and being warm will be the last thing to worry about!