22 Time-tested Tent Winter Camping Tips

winter camping tips main picture

Introducing my winter camping tips, which will keep you warm in any winter conditions. My favorite one is to keep a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag, it brought my camping experience to a whole new level. Find 21 other winter camping tips below.

I collected and tested these tips during my 20+ years as a camping enthusiast and if implemented right, these will make your winter camping trip much more comfortable.

Table Of Contents

Tent Related Winter Camping Tips

1. Find a sheltered location to pitch your tent

winter camping tips, tent in sheltered location

You need to be extra careful about where you set up your tent when you’re camping in the winter. Look for a spot that’s sheltered from the wind and any potential sources of moisture.

The good thing about a sheltered location is that you’ll be protected from the elements and won’t have to worry about things like your tent getting covered in snow or blown away by the wind.

Another important factor when camping in winter is elevation. In winter the temperature drops three degrees Fahrenheit for every thousand feet in elevation that you gain.

In general, you want to camp lower down, but cold air settles into valleys and depressions at night. So you want to camp low, but you don’t want to camp at the bottom. Try to find a bench or a saddle or something like that’s down in a valley but isn’t its lowest point.

2. Correct tent for the coming weather conditions is essential

winter tent nemo

A perfect tent is one of the most important things you need for a winter camping trip.

Make sure to pick a four-season tent if you plan on doing any winter camping. A four-season tent is made to withstand heavy snowfall and strong winds. It will also have a waterproof and breathable canopy to keep you dry and comfortable inside your tent.

You should also make sure that your tent has enough space for all of your gear. You don’t want to be cramped up inside your tent when the weather outside is freezing. Pick a tent that’s big enough for you and all of your gear, and make sure to test it out before you go on your trip.

3. Keep your tent ventilated

keep your tent ventilated

When you’re camping in the winter, it’s important to keep your tent well-ventilated. Otherwise, you could end up with condensation on the walls of your tent, which can make things very uncomfortable.

To keep your tent well-ventilated, make sure to open the vents or windows even when you’re inside. You can also try to prop open the door of your tent with a stick or a rock.

A well-ventilated tent is ideal for winter camping because it will help you stay dry.

Clothing Related Winter Camping Tips

4. Dress in layers and stay dry

During winter camping, staying dry is essential to staying warm. Dress in layers so you can easily take off or put on clothing as needed. Cotton should be avoided as it will hold moisture next to your skin.

Wool, down, and synthetic materials are all good choices for layers as they will help you stay dry and warm. Make sure to pack extra clothes in case you get wet, and always keep your sleeping bag dry. Typically, there are about three layers that you should carry:

  • Baselayer: A thin layer that will wick moisture away from your skin.
  • Midlayer: A insulating layer to keep you warm.
  • Outer layer: A waterproof and windproof layer to protect you from the elements.

Of course, you can adjust these layers depending on the conditions and your personal preference.

Rei.com has an awesome guide on how to dress in layers, check it out here.

5. Bring an extra hat, gloves, and change of clothes

winter camping tips bring extra gloves

The most important thing when camping in winter is to make sure you’re prepared for the worst.

By bringing extra clothes, gloves, and a hat (or two) you are guaranteed to stay comfortable no matter what happens. In the end, the more sheltered and comfortable you are the more you will enjoy your winter camping trip.

Bringing extras is a great help when you get wet and allows you to let your wet clothes out to dry. It’s also a good idea to bring extra socks so you can change them to dry ones if your feet get wet.

6. Get out of wet clothes and dry them out as soon as possible

winter camping tips, dry your clothes

If your clothes get wet, it’s important to get out of them and dry them off as soon as possible. Wet clothes will make you cold, and they can even lead to hypothermia.

You could put your wet clothes next to the camp stove or campfire, to help them dry quicker.

If you’re unable to dry your clothes right away, put them on over your other layers so they can dry while you’re wearing them.

You can also wrap your wet clothes in a towel and put them in your sleeping bag to help dry them overnight.

Sleep-Related Winter Camping Tips

7. Choose the right sleeping bag and other winter gear

The North Face Furnace Sleeping Bag

Your sleeping bag is one of the most important pieces of gear for winter camping. Choose a sleeping bag that’s rated for cold weather and make sure it’s big enough for you to move around in.

Each sleeping will have a temperature rating assigned to it, which will help you understand for which weather conditions it is best used. You can read more about sleeping bag temperature ratings at REI.com

Down sleeping bags are a good choice for winter camping because they’re very warm and lightweight. Synthetic sleeping bags are also a good option, and they’re usually less expensive than down bags.

In addition to a sleeping bag, you’ll also need a warm sleeping pad and a good pair of winter boots. Make sure to test out your gear before you go on your trip, to be certain that it will work in the cold.

8. Sleeping pad is very important for winter camping

sleeping pad for more comfortable winter sleep

A sleeping pad is also another important piece of gear for winter camping. It helps you to stay warm and dry by insulating your body from the cold ground.

For winter camping, you should choose a thicker sleeping pad so you don’t feel the cold ground underneath you. An inflatable sleeping pad is also a good option because it can be easily packed and will provide you with a comfortable place to sleep.

There are many different types of sleeping pads, so be sure to do some research before you choose one. I found another great article on the REI.com website, that is absolutely worth the read.

9. Water bottle filled with hot water to heat your sleeping bag

use water bottle filled with hot water in sleeping bag

Using a water bottle filled with hot water or hot water bottle can be a “lifesaver” when you’re camping in the winter.

Fill it up with hot water before you go to bed and put it in your sleeping bag. Keep it close to your core, while you sleep and it will help you stay warm all night long. I guarantee you will never stop using this hack once you tried it out.

10. Sleep with your hat on

sleep with your hat on

When it’s cold outside, your head is one of the first places you’ll start to lose body heat through. Keeping your hat or balaclava on while you sleep is one of the easiest tips to raise your body temperature.

To prevent this, I suggest sleeping with your hat on. It will help keep your head warm and will also prevent heat from escaping through your head.

11. Use hand warmers to heat your boots

use hand warmers in boots

If you don’t want to sleep in your boots, you can use hand warmers to heat them before you put them on in the morning.

Just put the hand warmers in your boots and let them heat up for a few minutes. This way you will avoid the shock of putting on cold boots in the morning.

There is no better feeling than putting on warm and dry boots, that will keep your feet dry, warm and comfortable all day.

12. Don’t breathe into your sleeping bag

When you’re sleeping in a cold environment, it’s important not to breathe into your sleeping bag. The moisture from your breath will condense on the inside of your bag and will make you cold and wet.

If you need to, you can vent your sleeping bag by opening the zipper a little bit. Just be sure not to vent too much or you’ll let the precious heat out.

Other Winter Camping Tips

13. Always check the weather beforehand and plan accordingly

Checking the weather is always important when planning any kind of trip, but it’s even more crucial when camping in the winter.

You need to make sure you have the right gear for whatever conditions you’ll be facing. If it’s going to be cold and snowy, make sure you have a warm sleeping bag and enough blankets.

If it’s going to be wet, pack a tarp or two in case you need to set up a makeshift shelter.

But the weather can also change unexpectedly, so it’s always a good idea to have some extra gear on hand just in case. Pack some extra clothes and blankets, and always make sure you have a fully charged cell phone in case of an emergency.

My favorite weather forest website is accuweather.com

14. Keep your water bottles insulated

It’s good practice to keep your water bottles insulated so they don’t freeze. There are a few different ways to do this.

You can buy an insulated water bottle, or you can put your water bottles in a sock and then put them in your sleeping bag.

Either way, you’ll want to make sure your water bottles are easily accessible so you can drink during the night.

15. Start the fire early and keep it going all night

keep the fire going

If you’re camping in the winter, it’s a good idea to start your fire early and keep it going all night.

This will help you stay warm and will also provide you with a source of light. If you’re using a campfire to stay warm, make sure to build it up well and pitch your tent at an adequate distance. You may need to add more wood during the night, so be sure to prepare enough.

16. Hydration and calories are very important

Since you’ll be burning more calories to stay warm, you need to make sure you’re getting enough food.

If possible, try to pack food that’s easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of cooking. Canned beans, for example, are a great option because they’re high in calories and you can eat them right away.

Make sure you have plenty of water with you and pack some high-calorie snacks to keep your energy up.

17. Bring extra batteries

extra batteries

When you’re camping in the winter, it’s a good idea to bring extra batteries. This is because cold batteries drain faster than usual (warm) batteries. So, if you’re using a flashlight or any other battery-powered device, be sure to bring extras just in case.

It’s also a good idea to keep your batteries in your pocket or sleeping bag to keep them warm. This will help them last longer.

18. Bring a pee bottle

This is because you may not want to leave your sleeping bag in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

Just be sure to empty the pee bottle in the morning so it does not freeze and become unusable. Going out at night during winter camping can be dangerous, so it’s best to avoid it if possible.

19. Don’t forget your sunscreen

Just because the sun isn’t out doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen. The sun’s rays can reflect off the snow and cause sunburn just like in the summer.

So, be sure to apply sunscreen before you go out and reapply it throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays.

20. Don’t camp alone

don't camp alone

If you’re camping in the winter, it’s a good idea to bring a friend. This is because it’s always safer to camp with someone else in case something goes wrong.

And be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. That way, if something happens, they’ll know where to look for you. Camping alone can be dangerous, so it’s best to avoid it if possible.

21. Bring a first-aid kit

The cold can cause injuries and illnesses that you may not be prepared for. So, be sure to pack a first-aid kit with all the essential items.

This includes bandages, pain relievers, and a thermometer. It’s also a good idea to bring any prescription medications you may need.

22. Know your limits

Cold can be dangerous and you don’t want to push yourself too far. So, be sure to dress properly, stay hydrated, and take breaks often.

If you start to feel tired or sick, it’s best to head back to camp and warm-up. Winter camping can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be safe.

What to do next

Winter camping can be very unpleasant, if not done correctly. I believe that my winter camping tips will make your winter camping trips more comfortable and enjoyable.

What was your favorite tip? Do you have your favorite tip, that I don’t have on my list yet? Then feel free to share it with us all in the comment section below. And I will make sure to give it a try soon.

If you liked this list of winter camping tips please share it with your friends on your social media.

Check out my other camping tips and guides here.

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