The silence of a winter evening spent in nature; the absence of camping crowds and flying insects; the chance to play in the snow. These are just a few of the many delights awaiting you in winter camping. Now we’re not here to make winter camping seem like a piece of cake—it does take quite a bit more planning than summer camping, simply because you have to take freezing cold weather into account.
Before heading out for your first camping adventure, take the time to think ahead. In addition to packing a few trusty COAST products, including LED flashlights for each member of your camping party, make sure you run down this checklist:
- Navigation: Closely study maps for the area. Talk to people who have been there before. Figure out where the closest emergency services are located. Calculate how long it will take you to hike or ski in and out of your winter camping location.
- Conditions: Monitor the weather forecast for your target area. If snow or rain is predicted, move the camping trip to another day. Also check road and trail conditions so you know what you’re getting into.
- Confirm plans with your emergency contacts and your tripmates. Your emergency contacts should have your trip plan, including departure and return times and location. Also include vehicle information and participant names. Finally, confirm that your winter camping buddies are all on the same page as far as trip plans, turnaround times, and trip goals. The turnaround time must be firm—you don’t want to be left out in the cold, struggling against a blizzard just because you pushed your turnaround time out.
- Avoid avalanche areas. If your party will be near any snowy slope with an incline of 20 degrees or greater, you should all be trained in avalanche survival. And of course you’ll need an avalanche beacon for each member of your party, if you’ll be in avalanche-prone areas.
Packing is probably the most onerous aspects of winter camping—but it’s also extremely important for success! Give yourself plenty of time to develop and double-check your winter camping packing list. Clothing should be multi-layered, with a wicking base layer, and insulating middle layer, and a windproof outer layer. Bring extra food and water, and do a test run with your tent before trying it in the wilderness.
Don’t forget to pack your multi-tools and flashlights as well. Remember, it gets dark fast in the winter, so you’ll want a reliable, high-quality flashlight such as the Coast HP7. Keep it tucked deep inside your bag until you need it, since batteries tend to run out of juice faster when they’re cold. A multi-tool such as our LED150 Pro Pocket Pliers is another thing to add to your list; its spring-loaded pliers design makes it easy to use even when your hands are chilled. Finally, bring a strong knife such as the RX322. Its patented roller bearing and spring leaf system ensures a smooth, one-handed blade opening every time—just the kind of reliability you want when camping in the winter.