Now that winter is here, you may feel disappointed and think that your camping days are over for the next several months. That does not need to be true, because you can camp all year long. You just need to prepare for winter camping in Canada differently than you do during the other three seasons.
Tips for Winter Camping: Know Your Skill Level
Although you may feel excited about camping during the winter, you need to be realistic about your outdoor survival skills before hopping into your RV and driving to a campground. For example, do you know the three types of winter camping, and which type you will be doing? They are as follows:
- Cold camping: This type of camping means you are really roughing it because your tent contains no natural or artificial heat source. However, you should still be comfortable if you buy the right type of tent and pack appropriate clothing and gear.
- Hot tenting: A hot tent has been specially designed by a manufacturer and comes complete with a wood stove. Most novice winter campers prefer hot tenting because they can stay warm while drying out their clothing and equipment at the same time. The only downside is a hot tent can be expensive when you first start the hobby.
- Building a quinzhee with snow: This is a more budget-friendly option that gives you an enclosed place to sleep, but the skills to build one take time to develop. You also need to consider that unexpected warm weather could cause your sleeping quarters to partially melt.
What to Pack for Winter Camping
The difference between camping in the winter and camping in warmer seasons starts with what you pack. You need to have a different mindset from the start to stay warm, safe, and enjoy your adventure. Experienced winter campers recommend starting the process of packing by preparing a list of gear to take with you. Use these gear lists for backpackers and for skiers.
Making sure that you have enough warm clothes should be a priority when packing for winter camping. Keep in mind that your clothes will get wet, and you will need dry clothes to replace them. Be sure to pack sleepwear that will stay warm and dry, adding extra layers if necessary.
Clothing made from wool will keep you warmer than clothing made from cotton, so be sure to look at clothing labels while packing. If you are allergic to wool, ask someone at your local sporting goods store for another clothing material that performs well when camping in the cold. Waterproof boots are a must for skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking, but bring a backup pair just in case.
You can still feel extremely cold even when dressed in warm clothing and outerwear. Packing some hand and toe warmers will come in handy in this situation and keep you warm until you can get back indoors.
How to Stay Warm as You Sleep
Placing a foam pad underneath your sleeping bag provides added warmth while winter camping. However, you should not just pack any sleeping bag. You want to look for one with a winter warmth rating that allows you to remain comfortable at temperatures of 15 to 40 degrees below zero Celsius. Placing a liner inside your sleeping bag also increases your warmth. Try to keep your sleeping bag as far as possible from the side of your tent to avoid contact with snow and moisture.
Tips for Setting Up Your Campsite
Setting up your campsite during the winter is more labour-intensive than during the summer. To ensure you are prepared, place a shovel in your vehicle before pulling out of your neighbourhood. You may need it to clear snow from your campsite. When setting up your tent, try to pack snow underneath it to ensure that you have an even sleeping surface. Taking this extra step also prevents your tent from sinking into the snow as you sleep.
You will need to inspect your potential campsite before setting up your tent to make sure that you do not place it under trees that could drop branches and snow during the night. Staying aware and organised is key to setting up a good campsite, so be sure to give yourself more than enough time to pitch a tent before the sun goes down.
Camping in the winter in Canada is certainly an adventure. You will never know if it is right for you unless you try it.