5 Winter Camping Hacks
Get a hotel - Kidding. Winter camping certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking to get after it into higher and wilder terrain, chances are you’ll be settling into a winter camp somewhere along your next line. While we can’t emphasize the importance of pre-trip planning and research enough (#knowbeforeyougo!) undoubtedly you’re going to learn some lessons the first few times around. Winter camping is pretty well an art of tweaking and refining systems, with countless “AHA” moments in between. Below are five simple camping hacks produced by said AHA moments.
1. Layer Right- When it comes to layering in the backcountry, there is one rule for success: you should never have to take off a layer to remove or add another. This means that when you become cold and need to add a puffy, you shouldn't have to remove your shell in order to fit it on. Your puffy should fit over most of your layers so it can be easily thrown on and off when breaking, and your hard-shell should be able to fit over everything comfortably in case of harsh conditions or windy mornings. Zip-off insulated pants are your best friend for winter camping - the ability to keep them on right up until you ski away from camp is a luxury.
2. Bottle Up - Insulated water bottles (ex. Hydro Flask, Corksicle, Yeti) are awesome for ensuring your water doesn’t freeze overnight or when temps drop below zero. They also have the bonus of keeping your tea or water hot throughout the day. When it comes to winter camping, however, an uninsulated bottle (ex. A small nalgene) works wonders for storing warmth. Fill your nalgene with hot water and toss it in your sleeping bag to keep you toasty all night long, or use it to warm up your ski boot liners in the morning.
3. Minimize Sweat - Of course, this is easier said than done for some. What’s most important is not arriving to camp sweaty. The last hour of your day should be low intensity to ensure you don’t arrive to camp in soaked clothes.
4. Foam Mat - Most underestimate the power of a solid sleeping mat system. Since discovering the utter magic of a foam mat (in addition to an inflatable mat), I’ve never winter camped without one. Foam mats weigh nothing, strap easily rolled up to the outside of your pack, add a few degrees of insulation at night when thrown under your inflatable mattress, and are awesome for staying warm sitting around camp (not to mention everyone will want to sit next to you, keeping you that much warmer).
5. Before Bed - No matter how well-rated your sleeping bag and mat are, your body will not stay warm if you don’t prepare it to do so. Set yourself up for a successful sleep by consuming calories for your body to burn throughout the evening, and by doing a minute exercise before crawling into your sleeping bag.