Whether you are camping for a weekend or extended time you need to have the right gear. The weather can change in an instant while camping especially in the wintertime. In this winter camping checklist, you will find everything you need from essentials to the extras to keep you warm.
In the mountains, the winters can be brutal. The winds and cold get more extreme the higher you camp. If you arent used to it then try camping somewhere that’s not in the mountains or where you can try and shield your campsite from the winds.
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Winter Camping Essentials Checklist
One of the most important things you need for any camping trip is a tent. If you plan on camping in the winter only I would suggest getting a 4-season tent. A 3- season tent can be insulated easily if you want to camp in the winter.
If you don’t know how to insulate a tent for the winter you can read our guide here.
Most of the tents on the market come equipped with a rainfly. If yours doesn’t be sure to purchase one or you can use a tarp to protect your tent from the rain and wind.
A tent footprint is essential for any camping trip. It adds an extra layer of protection between your tent and the ground. It’s also a good way to help insulate your tent.
Getting the right type of sleeping bag or blankets can help keep you warm in the harsh winters. It’s really important to stay warm, especially while sleeping.
The weather gets extremely cold at night. Going to sleep warm and waking up realizing that the temperature dropped sucks. If you have the right gear to sleep then you will stay warm no matter what.
Insulated sleeping pad
A sleeping pad will help you stay comfortable and off the cold ground. It will also help you stay warm while sleeping.
Never forget a pillow while camping. Waking up with neck pain sucks especially if you plan on hiking the next day.
Some campsites have a grill on-site for you to grill on. If you aren’t sure if yours does go ahead and check the campground website. It’s a good idea to bring a stove anyways to be able to cook meals. Don’t forget the butane fuel.
You should always carry a lighter when out camping. It is a super useful item for many things.
We always bring reusable utensils with us to camp. Plastic utensils are ok but we try to limit our waste as much as possible.
You need to be sure to bring cookware to cook in. We love our cast iron pan. It can be used directly on an open flame and cooks evenly. You can cook so much in it. Just be sure to do your research on how to clean it properly.
Having a heater will help tremendously in the winter. Be sure to get one that’s safe for use inside a tent. Read all the safety precautions as well. If not used correctly then these heaters can really hurt you.
An essential for any trip outdoors. A headlamp will help at night when it gets dark so you can see where you’re going, or what you are working on. I keep one in my hiking backpack as well in case I get lost while hiking and it gets too dark.
A tarp can be used for many things while camping. Its uses include protecting things from the rain, used as a rainfly or footprint for your tent, and more.
This will come in handy if you are winter hiking where it will snow. You may need to shovel some snow to get out of your car or to make a path.
Tent Repair Kit
Never tent camp without a tent repair kit. Having your tent rip or break can ruin your trip in seconds.
Winter Camping Clothing Checklist
The temperature drops when you are up in the mountains and at night. Even if you don’t need it during the day you may need it if you go hiking or at night when the temperature drops.
Even if you are wearing layers you will want to have some sort of windbreaker material pair of pants. The wind can get intense and these will help keep you warm.
Layers are so important when winter camping. Always bring more layers than you think you will need. You can always take some off if you get warm.
Do you remember your mom telling you that you lose most of the heat from your head? I don’t know how true that is but I do know that I stay warmer and my ears don’t freeze when I wear a hat.
Gloves are always necessary anywhere outside in the cold.
Keep your toes warm with thick wool socks. Especially if you plan on hiking you need thick socks. I sometimes wear more than one pair to make sure my feet stay warm.
I suggest bringing a few different pairs of shoes when camping. If it’s supposed to snow while you are camping be sure to bring snow boots to keep your feet warm and dry.
If it isn’t going to snow I suggest a warm pair of boots or shoes. A pair that you don’t mind getting dirty just in case it rains or there’s mud. Also, bring a pair of flip-flops. These are to wear in the bathhouse shower or if you need to run to the car and don’t want to deal with putting socks and boots on.
Seems like a silly thing to need but it’s still sunny in the winter. Of its snowy where you are you definitely need sunglasses. The reflection of the sun off the snow into your eyes can really do some damage. Be sure to get polarized sunglasses for ultimate protection.
Winter Camping Hiking Gear Checklist
Hiking boots are a must if you plan on doing any hiking at all. Keep your feet protected from the elements and the terrain. Not sure what kind of hiking boots you should get? Check out our post on choosing the right hiking boots here.
A daypack is so important when hiking. It holds all your essentials, safety equipment, and extras. I love this daypack from Ozark trail but if you want to find out which daypack would be best for you and your hiking style read here.
Hiking poles can be very beneficial when hiking. I don’t normally hike with them but sometimes I grab a big stick if the trail is wet or if it’s really rocky. It’s time that I invest in some to keep handy.
Hiking navigation systems are definitely based on preference. Some people don’t hike with them some people can’t hike without them. I’m somewhere in the middle. I appreciate navigation especially if I’m hiking for a long time or on a trail that’s not as popular.
But for the most part, I don’t use an actual navigation system. I do use AllTrails and download the map onto my phone in case I need to look at the directions.
Winter Camping Entertainment Checklist
Reading a good book is always a relaxing way to spend some time while camping. Bring a few books or a kindle with you to read on your camping trip.
Is it just me or does everyone get good ideas while hanging out in nature? I like to bring a notebook and journal a bit in the mornings while drinking my coffee.
I bring my headphones with me everywhere. While hiking or hanging out at the campsite I like to listen to music or podcasts. I got these on amazon and am super impressed. They work great and are really cheap compared to other headphones.
Listening to music while hanging out around the campfire is the best. Be sure to keep in mind what you’re listening to and how loud it is. Most campgrounds have a quiet time set so be sure to check so you don’t get in trouble.
Games are always fun to bring on a camping trip. Check out these 11 fun camping games.
Winter Camping Extras Checklist
Make sure you have plenty of food when camping. You can easily find camping recipes on Pinterest.
It’s super important to stay hydrated while outdoors. If you plan on hiking be sure to have plenty of water with you. I also like to bring Liquid I.V. with me just in case I start to feel dehydrated.
Tip: Liquid I.V. is great if you plan on drinking alcohol as well.
Though not necessary I like to bring a thermos to keep my coffee hot for a longer period of time. It’s also fun to bring coffee along on a hike and enjoy a warm cup at the top of a mountain.
First Aid Kit
Safety is super important when doing anything outdoors. You never know if you will need something.
If you plan on camping or hiking with your dog check out our dog first aid kit post here to keep your furry friend safe while on your trip.
Don’t miss out on the sunrise or wildlife photos. I normally use my phone as my camera so that I don’t have to lug my camera around.
Like sunglasses, sunscreen is super important even in the winter. Make sure to put it on any part of your body that will be exposed to the sun, especially your face!
Bug spray is super important especially when in the woods. You need to be sure to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitos.
Hand Warmers are some of my favorite things to use when I’m outdoors in the winter. My hands get so cold especially when I keep taking my gloves off to get photos.
Don’t forget your toiletries and shower products. Bathhouses don’t normally have anything like that for you to use.
A lot of campgrounds have firewood available to purchase but it can be quite expensive. Bring some of your own or find a place to buy some on the way to your campground if you want to save some money.
Bring a few different towels with you. You will need one to dry off after showering in the bathhouse. They are great for wiping off your feet or your dog’s muddy paws before climbing into your tent.
They are also helpful if you need to dry off chairs or dry any cooking equipment after washing.
I hope this winter camping checklist was helpful for you. What items do you bring camping in the winter? Let me know if I missed anything!