Tips and Tricks for Camping in the Snow
One of the major debates in winter camping is whether a car or a tent should be used. There is evidence supporting each being a great option, so long as you are prepared.
Here are some of the most important things to plan for when camping in the winter, whether you choose to use either tent or car.
Keep your sleeping area dry.
Before setting up your tent, we suggest packing down the snow that will be below your tent. This will provide insulation for the floor of your tent, as packed snow is a great insulator. You will also want to use a tarp to protect the bottom section of your tent from getting wet due to snow melting.
While placing your tent, make sure you do not set up under a tree. Snow build-up on trees can potentially fall on your shelter, causing damage.
While sleeping in either tent or car, there is possibility for condensation to build up as your breath creates moisture in the air. You will want to take a slightly bigger tent for winter camping to reduce condensation from seeping onto your insulated gear. For example, if you usually use a 2-person tent, try a 3-person tent instead.
If you are in a car, you will need to open your front windows a touch to allow for air flow to prevent condensation. Then we recommend you insulate your windows. A quick option is to use sun blocking panels that have foam and foil to cover the windows. Many sources recommend Reflectix as a quick and easy insulator for your car windows.
Heat your sleeping area.
If you are wanting to heat your sleeping area, there are a few possibilities! If you want to try a portable heater, you will need to make certain there is sufficient air flow in your sleeping area. Make sure you have some sort of ventilation while using electric heaters (i.e., cracking windows in your car). You can easily attach portable heaters via the cigarette lighter in your car or by using a portable generator.
Another great way to keep yourself warm throughout the night is by using a hot water bottle. You can quickly boil water to pour in a water bottle before bed. Place it in your sleeping bag before sliding in to keep it cozy!
Save your car battery.
Another important thing to remember when winter camping is keeping your vehicle lights off while your car isn’t in use. There are great lighting options to use that will help you save your battery. We suggest using head lamps, lanterns, or this great option from Klymit, the Everglow Light Tube. Use USB power sources or portable generators to keep things charged up.
Make sure your vehicle’s battery doesn’t die while you are camping and prepare for the worst if it does. We always suggest unplugging your battery if you plan on spending a lot of time with your doors open. If you can, bring a jumper cable kit just in case
If all else fails…
The last piece of advice for winter camping is to have a backup plan! If all else fails, make sure you have a way to finish your camping trip in a safe way. Try testing your initial plan before heading out to the snowy mountains. Testing things out beforehand can give you an idea of what challenges you may face in the wilderness.
If you are unsure of the success of your trip, plan camping closer to home. Always tell someone you trust about your camping plans, especially if you will be going out of service.
Camping in winter is rewarding if it is planned carefully. Wherever you decide to go, make sure you are well prepared for those winter wonderlands out there!