The winter is a great time of the year for a lot of things – celebrating the holidays, visiting family, football, playing in the snow – but camping isn’t one of them. Sleeping outside in freezing temperatures isn’t exciting, it’s flat out crazy. If you don’t mind a little frostbite and are up for braving the elements, however, you better make sure you know what you’re doing before you head out.
Below, we’ve shared a few tips from Scouts Canada for camping during the winter months. Hypothermia is a real thing so I’d suggest reading through the entire list before setting up camp.
- Think onion: Layering is important. Having the ability to easily get in and out of layers will help keep your body temperature in check and prevent sweating, says Scouts Canada.
- Be prepared: Camping during the winter season requires greater caution than in any of the other seasons. Be cautious on ice, especially near running water, and always pack essentials such as an emergency kit, water, and snacks.
- Keep everything covered: Wind chill can be dangerous so stick to sheltered areas and make sure that no part of your skin is left unexposed. Wearing waterproof gear such as boots, mittens, a hat, and a parka is best for staying warm. You can also keep your cheeks warm by chewing gum (Who knew?).
- Check the weather: Winter conditions can be unpredictable and “snow squalls are dangerous.” Temperatures can drop quickly so pay attention.
- Snow blindness: Wear sunglasses to reduce the glare off the snow which can strain your eyes, causing nausea and headaches.
- Always bring a friend: Share the adventure with others. You’ll have support in case of an emergency and be able to share food and gear.
- Stay hydrated: You expend tons of energy while trucking through the snow in all of those layers and your body needs water to function at a high level. You’re also more likely to suffer hypothermia if you are dehydrated. Stick to de-caf or hot herbal drinks to stay warm and store bottled water upside down (water always freezes from the top).
- Eat: Start the day off right with a proper, balanced breakfast and carry plenty of food with you. Stick with protein bars, hearty soups, and chili. Calories will help your body create heat. Just be sure to store your sandwich in your jacket – it will freeze in your backpack.
- Share your plan: Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
- Cotton kills: Cotton soaks up water and holds onto it so wearing it in the winter will make you wet and cold. Dress in wool or synthetic layers from head to toe, and from your base to outer layer.
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