Camping is the best way to get away from the city to slow down, relax and entertain a few mates. It’s also the most inexpensive form of holiday accommodation. Though sometimes the weather can make things more challenging. So, whether you are out on a winter school camp, after cheap holiday accommodation, love the outdoors, or testing your limits here are our top tips for winter camping.
Winter Camping Tip #1: Pack Layers
When you pack for cold weather pack with layers. Make sure you have gloves and a scarf or neck wind breaker. Often it is the wind chill that hits the hardest, so minimise exposed skin with scarves, gloves and long sleeves. A warm layer and a wind break go a long way when staying warm. Take a jumper to wear under your jacket. Any exposed skin will drain warmth, this is especially so for your head. Embrace bad hat hair and find a stylish beanie to keep you warm.
Winter Camping Tip #2: Boots
Runners don’t cut it! Take warm fully enclosed boots, preferably made from a fire-retardant and water proof material with an insulating layer. You can thank me later. Additionally, don’t leave them outside overnight, you don’t want to put on freezing stiff boots in the morning.
Winter Camping Tip #3: Fire
If you’re going to make a fire it’ll be tempting to have it near the tent, but don’t, the last thing you want is hot stray embers melting holes in your fancy polyester winter weight mountaineering tent. Remember even though it’s cold, ensure proper fire safety as the temperature won’t prevent an out of control blaze. Clear the ground 1m around the fire and don’t put clothes, chairs and other equipment too close. Lastly, don’t throw camp gear across the fire, if you fall short the flames are generally unforgiving.
In this image: Sunseeker 2.5m Awning, Pioneer Platform, Tapered Awning Extension, Sunseeker Awning Sidewall
Winter Camping Tip #4: Water
Take something to boil water! Even if you don’t plan on having a fire you may feel like a hot tea or coffee. Have a billy and a camp stove available. If you’re camping in minus temps, store your drink bottles upside down over night. The water will freeze from the top down so you’ll still be able to access it in the morning.
Winter Camping Tip #5: Water Proofing
If your gear isn’t water proof, you can get aftermarket spray on or laundry additives which can do the job. Consider visiting your local camping store a few weeks prior for these as some can take time to set. If you need extra storage space or want to keep dirty gear outside the car, consider a roof box for your car. It will keep your gear safe from the elements and your car clean allowing you to take more mates.
In this image: Master Fit Roof Box, Snowboard and Ski Carrier
Winter Camping Tip #6: Sleeping
This is the most important aspect to get right, the last thing you want is to be cold at night. It’s the difference between enjoying your time away and being awake at night silently plotting revenge against the person who came up with the idea.
A high-grade camp mat suitable for winter is a must, you’ll lose a lot of heat from the ground. If you don’t have a winter grade mat take an extra blanket or fleece to put under your sleeping bag. If you have the space sleeping bag liners are a great idea. Avoid inflatable beds unless they have a double thick top or are winter graded.
While a winter weight sleeping bag is most desirable there are other solutions such as; sleeping bag liners, spare blankets, hot water bottles and thermals. Don’t skimp in this area, combinations of these are more desirable, such as a liner, sleeping bag, and thermals. Layers are wonderful and give you more options.
Tip: If it’s particularly cold wrap the blanket around you inside the sleeping bag creating an insulating layer. If you’re still cold fill your bag with spare clean clothes.
In this image: Sunseeker 2.5m Awning
Winter Camping Tip #7: Shelter
The sleeping bag isn’t the only important key to a good night sleep. You want a tent that’ll stop the condensation and precipitation from falling on you when you roll around in your sleep or get up in the morning.
Take an all-seasons tent. Most tents will have icons on the side which tell you what conditions they are suitable for. A winter tent can be used all year round but a summer tent isn’t advisable in the cold. Mountaineering tents have great ventilation to prevent condensation and are light weight for hiking. Canvas tents are generally larger and thicker which make them suitable for all-seasons. They’ll keep in the warmth, are thick enough to avoid seepage and last a lifetime. If you’re camping in the snow you should take plastic/metal stakes instead of pegs to prevent the wind pulling up the tent.
Especially if you’re crazy enough to camp on the snow a ground cloth will prevent water coming up through the floor and help keep in warmth.
Vehicle awnings can prevent disaster on a camping trip no matter what the season by providing a cover for wind and rain. They take next to no time to erect and come with loads of accessories for additional comfort. Awnings can also be used as an additional barrier over your tent.
Winter Camping Tip #8 : Ablutions
Take spare toilet paper in zip lock bags to keep it dry. While it’s important to keep hydrated remember if you drink a lot in the evening it may mean getting up at 1 am and dashing across ice for relief. If you are comfortable with the idea have a bottle clearly marked and a different shape to your water bottle so you can relieve yourself without going outside. If you are female, you can consider investing in products like the ‘she wee’ to aid in this procedure.
Bonus Camping Tip: Research
Possibly the most important tip! Make sure you know what you're walking into:
All these questions should have answers before you go so you can be better prepared. Find and research camping areas here: maps.doc.govt.nz.
If you have any comments or tips you’d like to share please leave a comment here or on our Facebook post.