If you’re a camping enthusiast, there’s no need to quit going on adventures just because of the cold weather. In fact, you may enjoy the solitude of your campsite more away from peak camping times and be able to explore deeper peace of mind. If you plan on continuing to camp throughout the winter months, make you’re prepared, informed, and warm.
The cardinal rule of camping at any time but during winter in particular is never to go alone. In case of a medical emergency, a planning error, or some other unforeseen incident, it’s important to have someone with you. It’s a bit of a tough sell to convince someone to join you on a winter hike, but there’s some fun angles and rhetorical gymnastics that may persuade some people. Sell the riskiness to your friends who crave adventure. Sell the “it’ll make a great story” aspect to your creative friends. Sell the “cool winter camping technology” bit to your gearhead buddies or techies. No matter how you try to convince people, the end goal is a buddy to accompany you on a tiring and rewarding journey through the wilderness.
Speaking of winter camping technology, there are some essentials you don’t want to leave home without for your trip. At the most basic, you need to stay protected from the weather, know where you are, and pump your body with nutrients and calories. Staying protected from the cold calls for heavy-duty down jackets, wool socks, goggles, and moisture-wicking garments. If there’s snow, you’ll be fighting an additional enemy — the sun. Keep sun-block, lip-balm with SPF, and sunglasses on hand if you’ll be in the snow.
It’s also important to research the place you’re going and the weather when you’re going. Depending on where you’re going, you may have more or fewer safety nets in case of emergency regarding shelter, rangers, or “escape routes.” Knowing the terrain, flora, fauna, and general feel of your location will help you decide what kinds of equipment you’ll need and how rigorously you’ll need to prepare physically and mentally for what your trip holds.
When it comes to equipment, every trip is going to vary, but some of the staples are timeless, including sleeping bags, tents, thermoses, fire starting equipment, etc., but you don’t have to break the bank to make sure your bases are covered and you’ll be safe on your trip. There are some websites full of life hacks that include using windshield reflectors to maintain some heat and adding large keyrings to zippers to make them easier to pull up while your hands are in gloves. Some companies also offer the ability to rent camping gear rather than buying it, since it can be pricy.
Eric Larson, professional outdoorsman, recommends adding 40 grams of butter to each meal to get in plenty of calories. In addition to keeping your body supplied with plenty of calories, Larson names the arch enemy of the winter camper: sweat. Your body can still sweat while hiking in the dead of winter, and the moisture on your body will make you feel all the colder as it tries to evaporate. To counteract this, Larson suggests preventing sweat in the first place. If you feel yourself getting warm, stop and cool down. If you can’t catch the sweat in time, though, unzip your jacket and let your boot liners dry. Even in your sleep, it’s important to avoid sleeping with your face in the pillow so you don’t lose insulation from the moisture you create from your breath. The key is to avoid moisture at all costs.
As long as you’ve taken the time to plan, collect the necessary items, and thought through your in-case-of-emergency protocol, wintertime hiking and camping will prove a mind-cleansing adventure that you’ll remember for a long time to come.