Winter Camping- Tips and Resources

The Presidential Peaks along the Bondcliff trail, Kancamagus, NH.

The Presidential Peaks along the Bondcliff trail, Kancamagus, NH.

As any camping fanatic would, I have an obsession with winter camping. The crisp air, amazing vistas and the harsh environment have always inspired me to take my mountaineering to the next level and made me feel stronger in my abilities.

For me, winter camping and winter mountaineering go hand in hand. The idea of sleeping at the feet of great mountains covered in snow, then climbing up to the top of them and over during the day has always brought joy to my heart.

I grew up outside of New York City, a city boy who from a young age, loved the wilderness. I frequented the White Mountains of New Hampshire; nestled in the Kancamagus Wilderness, near Loon Ski resort, a network of beautiful, challenging trails up into the clouds…upstate New York, the Adirondack’s, Peekskill’s and finally, transition to current day: Colorado.  Moving up the food chain towards bigger, badder mountains has always been a focus of mine!

Illumination!

Illumination!

Sidebar: No matter where you are, if you’re above 40 latitude, you can probably go winter camping!

Here are some important things to remember when exploring the backcountry during the winter months. Don’t be fooled, the added elements of winter camping bring increased danger, consequences, and remoteness to the scenario.

Safety:

Winter camping safety is paramount! You will be exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods, and must know how to regulate your temperature in camp and on the trail. You can find everything you need to know about safety and smart tips for the winter camping in the NOLS Winter Camping hand book available at NOLS.com

Available at www.nols.com

Available at www.nols.com

Awareness:

Winter is a time when competition for resources is the greatest. Some animals hibernate for the winter to conserve energy, while others roam looking for food. Be sure to know what type of wild life is prominent where you are camping, and how to store your food to prevent run-ins with wildlife. Never store food on your person when sleeping.

Preparedness:

Bring proper clothing, extra, and warmer than you think you need. Snow covered ground can conceal potholes, creeks and streams which can still be flowing underneath and cause hazards for hikers. Always carry extra socks and have fuel to start a fire in the snow to dry your belongings. Bring a candle for inside the tent, it will produce heat, attract the bugs away from you, and has the longest battery life of any light!

*Also be sure to have: an Ice axe for self arrest, a shovel, rain coat, rain pants, extra leggings, 0 degree sleeping bag, ground tarp, thick foam pad (works better than air on the cold snow) and plenty of fuel for your stove!

An explosion of winter camping gear.

An explosion of winter camping gear.

Style:

Something I like to have on every camping trip. Winter is the time to bring more than you might think you’ll need. Hiking in/with snow shoes, or cross country skis makes the distance easier and more fun! It can also be very tiring, and will sap you of your energy fast, so be sure to bring food that will bolster up your strength! I like to go gourmet, and bring bacon, cream cheese, yogurt, and other things that can be kept in packed snow for freshness. Fresh greens and packaged meat will also give you style points, as well as energy in loads. Consider bringing a sled to tow supplies into a base camp and do day hikes from there!

Winter camping by moonlight

Winter camping by moonlight

While all this may seem daunting, remember that winter camping has amazing benefits! You get to see vivid animal tracks in the snow, you get extremely cold water, ice to pack meat, beer or whatever you decide to bring, and above all, the crisp, clear silence of the great outdoors at their most peaceful time. Winter.

So when your thinking of things to do this season, keep in mind that while the resort life may be great, sometimes its nice to slip into the woods for a few days and remember how to live simply and humbly.

Comments

  1. Great post :)
    I went winter camping (though just drive-up with hiking through the day) for the first time this winter, and it was really amazing. I want to get more into it now that I’ve seen that it can be done fairly easily.

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