The Ultimate Guide to Snow Camping

the ultimate guide to snow camping

Many people think winter forces people to stay indoors. This simply isn’t true as many nature lovers head outdoors to go snow camping. Sure, camping with snow all over can be quite tricky and challenging, but one can enjoy this adventure with the right planning and preparation.

Inexperienced campers often say, why go camping in snow? Or let’s go camping during hot weather instead. These comments probably arise as the benefits of snow camping aren’t very obvious too many.

Camping in the snow means having more silence in campgrounds. Winter camping provides a different level of tranquility as there are no buzzing of insects, little sounds from trees or running water and human chatter. Plus, camping during this time of the year is better for those who don’t want to deal with bugs. One can even pack light for the trip given that the body does not need as much water during cool days unlike in warm weather where drinking lots of liquids is a must.

Unfortunately, there are dangers in winter camping especially if one doesn’t know how to camp in the snow. One can get colds after or experience hypothermia during the trip without the right gear. The risk of suffering from cold-related illnesses increases when camping in the rain, which is why seasoned campers recommend staying dry throughout the trip. Head on to your shelter the moment rain starts to avoid getting drenched.

campfire on snow

Speaking of staying dry, campers must keep in mind that water is a better conductor of temperature than air and campers run the risk of lowering their body temperatures easily with wet clothes. As such, putting the right clothes and packing extra dry clothes can go a long way in keeping the dangers of being outdoors during snowy days at bay.

Urinating in the middle of the night in snowy grounds is a daunting task. After all, night time is colder than day time and venturing out to find a place in a snowy area to pee is not only challenging but can be dangerous, too. Walking in snowy sites in the dark is not recommended. It’s a great idea having an empty bottle in the tent that can save you the hassle of getting out just to pee.

Preparation Before Camping Out

Camping regardless of the weather requires planning to ensure a safe yet fun time with nature. Failing to prepare for the camp out could mean a hassle-filled and even dangerous experience. You could end up with the wrong set of inadequate clothes or have an unsuitable campsite for your experience.

Winter trips require more planning ahead as walking in snowy terrain and the cold weather makes snow camping more difficult than summer sone. It is imperative to make a snow camping checklist that includes camping food and basic camping equipment. Here’s what you need to plan ahead of your trip.

Preparation Before Camping Out

Choosing a Location

No, you don’t simply search for the nearest campsite and head there. Take the time to research your options. Choose a campsite that’s appropriate for your camping level experience and abilities. For example, don’t choose a destination that would require you to walk uphill for hours if you haven’t been winter camping at all.

There are many factors to consider when choosing where to camp such as the following:

Nearest emergency services

You need to find out if there are emergency services nearby as well as the amount of time these services can reach you should there be an emergency.

Backcountry shelters

Check if there are other shelters in the area and their exact location.

Travel time

Know how to travel to the campsite by finding out the number of hours you need to drive, hike or walk. Would you be needing a vehicle with winter tires to get to the trail’s starting point? Are there roads to the area?


Research about the trails and terrain. Know whether the camp requires you to deal with steep long climbs or the area has an open easy country vibe. You need to match your camping experience with the destination. For example, you should not venture into slopes that are prone to avalanches if you and your companions do not have any formal avalanche training.

Preparing Necessary Camping Essentials

Preparation for camping

After choosing the destination, then it’s time to prepare your snow camping checklist. It is important to know how to dress for winter camping as well as obtaining the proper basic camping equipment. Here are some of the basics you need for your snow camping.

Cold Weather Clothing

A pleasurable trip is only possible by keeping yourself warm and dry. Choose clothes that wick moisture will insulate, and are both breathable and waterproof. Dressing in layers will allow you to keep warm throughout the camping duration. Make sure to have a light to mid-weight basic layer, insulating clothing as the middle layer and protective clothing for the outer layer.


Snow camping doesn’t necessarily mean getting a four-season tent. If you’re dealing with a mild winter, then a three-season shelter will do as long as you bring additional tarps for the bottom of the tent. On the other hand, if you might be facing winter storms, then getting a mountaineering or winter tent is a must. It is then imperative to know the weather forecast before gathering your camping needs.

Campsite Selection

Spend a good amount of time choosing the spot for your shelter. As a rule, your campsite should protect you from elements. This means avoiding the top of the hills that exposes you to strong winds, and the bottom of the hill where you will suffer from cold air troughs.

It is best to settle down at a flat site where you can compress the snow when pitching your tent. Keep in mind that packed or compressed snow provides better insulation than loose ones.

Setting up tent on snow

Setting Up Tent on Snow

Choosing a flat surface to set-up a tent is also a good way of securing the tent on the ground. Make sure to dig out the snow using your shovel and avoid setting up the tent from the cleared area for at least 30 minutes. Use snow stakes rather than regular ones when staking down your tent.

If you’re wondering how to keep warm in a tent despite freezing weather, then remember that the shelter and what you do with it matters. Your best option for strong winter camping is to use a winter camping tent rather than a three-season tent. You can protect yourself further by bringing waterproof tarps to insulate the tent’s floor. Make sure to get waterproof tarps as the main purpose of using one is to prevent water from getting in your tent when it rains. Do not worry as these camping tarps are still useful even if no rain comes. They still help in keeping the tent warm.

Winter does not necessarily mean a temporary halt from camping activities. Do not let the snow keep you away from enjoying and finding solace from nature. You can still go snow camping, which arguably helps you experience more quiet time and stillness than summer camping.

There’s nothing to fear in camping during wintertime. Just make sure to plan carefully by choosing a destination suited to your needs and abilities, and preparing the right basic camping necessities. Stay dry and warm and you will surely enjoy your snow camp activities.


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