Cold weather camping is an exciting way to test your skills, to enjoy a new side of nature, or part of outdoor activities like hunting and ice fishing. Although it is an exhilarating time, it can also be very dangerous if you are careless. Follow this cold weather camping checklist and make sure your ready for anything mother nature throws your way.
Choose a suitable place
When planning any camping trip, choosing a suitable site is always the first step. When planning for a cold weather camping trip make sure to account for any issues that may come up. Learn the area and make notes of any important features you may need in an emergency such as shelters, roads, ranger stations, etc. It does not hurt to choose a place with beautiful cold weather scenery and wildlife as well!
Pack essential equipment
Choosing the proper equipment can make or break any camping trip. Cold weather camping has special needs though. Make sure to bring plenty of extra clothes in case your main ones get wet. Rain and snow gear is also important as water and the cold do not mix. Extra sleeping bags and blankets can help prevent hypothermia in an emergency and a few chemical heat pouches can come in handy. Make sure your sleeping bags are rated for the expected temperatures as well. Summer bags are not made to hold in heat in extreme cold environments. Something to boil water in to make a hot cup of coffee or tea can help get rid of that morning chill and make sure to pack essentials like a first aid kit as well.
Make sure your meals are hearty
Winter weather and the cold mean your body has to work extra hard to stay warm. This can mean your body burns energy, ie calories, much faster in the cold. Make sure to pack plenty of food and do not skimp on the calories. Hot food is better than cold food on a dreary winter day as well. Use chemical warmers that just need water for easy clean-up or bring pots and pans to cook over the fire. Make sure to bring extra food as well in case of emergencies. If you find yourself in a survival situation, food is often scarce in cold months so be ready.
Check the weather
A blizzard of ice storm can quickly turn a fun family camping trip into a survival situation. Avoid the risk and plan around any weather issues that can ruin your trip. This is especially important on mountains and other dangerous areas where avalanches and other scenarios can quickly get out of control. Always plan for the unexpected.
Prepare your vehicle
Make sure your vehicle is ready for the challenges of the winter months. Anything can happen at any time but when the temperature drops mistakes are life threatening. Get your car inspected at a local repair center before heading out if it has been awhile. Make sure to check your spare and that you have the right tires for any kind of weather. A small tool kit can come in handy in an emergency as well. You can find these at many retail stores in convenient carrying kits.
Winter weather calls for special clothing requirements. Bring several different types of clothing and dress in easy to remove layers. Sweating can quickly lead to hypothermia which is very serious and potentially deadly. Remove layers as your body temp begins to rise to regulate your comfort level. Wool coats and gloves are especially useful if foul weather comes in. Wool retains a large percentage of heat retention properties even when wet. Make sure to bring proper footwear to keep your feet warm and dry and rain gear is a must as well. As mentioned before, always bring extra clothes as well.
Bring plenty of fire supplies
Make sure to keep a large supply of firewood handy. Bring axes, hatchets, chain saws, or whatever you prefer to gather plenty of wood but beware of bringing wood from home. This can bring destructive parasites into a new area that can destroy entire forests. Gather at least twice as much as you think you will need and try to keep it as dry as possible. Extra fire starting supplies and dry tinder are always nice to have on hand as well. Fire logs can help start a fire even in damp conditions and bring extra lighters as backups.
Cold weather camping is fun and adventurous but potentially dangerous if you are not prepared. Make sure to follow this checklist and plan accordingly and your winter trip will be one to remember. And do not forget your camera, the outdoors in the winter are amazingly beautiful!