Winter Camping- What You Need to Know
Winter camping can be a refreshing break away and an all round enjoyable experience; however is not to be taken lightly. With proper preparation, you will undoubtedly be eagerly anticipating the next winter break.
Before you embark on your camping trip, you should check the weather for any expected highs and lows, but always take this with a pinch of salt; as we know, Winters in the UK can be unpredictable at best! However much food, drink, clothes and supplies you think you need; take that, and more. There’s no way of knowing just how much you will end up using, but in cold conditions it’s much better to be prepared!
Always ensure there is somebody at home who knows where you are at least once a day should you encounter any issues.
Bonus tip: Take a snow shovel; much more useful than you think!
Pitching your tent:
It’s important to arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to pitch up whilst still in clear daylight, which is very limited in the peak of Winter.
Whilst picking a place to settle for the night, it’s important to ensure you have natural wind protection and there is no risk of an avalanche coming down on you. Look above, are the branches littered with heavy snow? If so, this may not be the best place to set up camp. Once you’ve found your location, you should pack down the snow around the area to give you a firm base to set-up on, and this means you won’t sink into the snow overnight. If you do get caught short and the night rolls in quicker than expected, it’s important to have sufficient lighting with you: head torches and lamps are essential for any winter camping trip.
Bonus tip: Try to pitch up close to something memorable to make finding your tent in the dark easier.
Food / Drink:
Your body needs food to burn to keep itself warm, the best sources of this fuel tend to be foods high in carbohydrates, energy and protein. In cold conditions, you should allow yourself an extra 1,000 calories a day to keep yourself warm.
Cooking-wise, a liquid fuel or regulated canister stove is recommended for cold conditions. We recommend the MSR Windburner Duo Stove which is pressure-regulated and windproof; offering lasting performance compared to other models.
Drink plenty of hot drinks, and don’t neglect drinking water. It may seem counter-intuitive whilst you’re trying to stay warm, but your body still needs to stay hydrated.
Bonus tip: You can drink melted snow. Find some clean white snow and bring to a boil, then put through a filtration device.
Sleeping is often seen as the toughest part of winter camping, however if you’re prepared with the right gear and information you should sleep comfortably through the night. The sleeping bag you’ve used all year long should suffice, but we recommended investing in a quality sleeping bag liner to keep you insulated and warm throughout the night. We recommend the Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Mummy Liner, which increases sleeping bag performance up to 15 degrees celsius. Also, make sure you’re utilising layers underneath, as well as on top of you. Most of your heat is lost through the cold ground, so a quality sleeping mat goes a long way in the cold; and will keep you more comfortable, offering extra padding. Finally, as tempting as it may seem, don’t try to warm up by breathing into your sleeping bag. This will quickly create condensation which will do more harm than good.
Bonus tip: Store socks inside your sleeping bag to warm them up for the next day.
Remember to always leave no trace when leaving a campsite. Make sure you remove all litter, dismantle any structures / fires and leave the site looking untouched.