Gearing Up for Snow Camping: Knives and other Essentials

Snow Camping at Lake Easton State ParkCold weather does not mean the end to outdoor fun. The winter season can provide an exciting challenge if you love to camp because of the new experiences it provides and because it gives you a good excuse to use your camping knives and multi-tool. Snow camping requires more preparation and special equipment than camping during other weather conditions, so you’ll need to take extra precautions and take the time to prepare in order to maximize the amount of fun you will have.

Snow Camping Overview

Snow camping, sometimes called ice camping, is the practice of spending the night outdoors in snowy conditions. Individuals sometimes camp in the snow simply for the experience, or they may need to ice camp during an overnight hiking or cross-country skiing trip.

Snow camping gives you the opportunity to use your favorite camping spot with minimal interruptions from fellow campers, and it allows you to see wild animals you may not normally see during the warmer months. Deciduous trees will also have bare branches, allowing you to see more birds. Snow camping also comes with the advantage that camping gear, like an LED headlamp or LED lantern, may cost less during the colder months of the year.

Essential Gear

The right snow camping gear is essential to a camper’s enjoyment and safety. Consider packing the following for your next snow camping trip:

Clothing

  • Snow boots
  • Long underwear
  • Snowshoes
  • Gloves
  • Warm socks
  • Ski or snow pants
  • Sweaters
  • Windbreaker
  • Winter jacket with Gortex
  • Warm hat
  • Winter vest
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Facemask
  • Sunglasses
  • Sock liners
  • Gaiters

Shelter and Sleeping

  • Sleeping bag made of synthetic materials that will keep you warm in temperatures of 30°F or colder
  • Tent rated for use in all four seasons
  • Tarp
  • Foam sleeping pad
  • Pillows

Eating

  • Camping meals
  • Insulated water bottles
  • Water filtration or treatment system
  • Power bars
  • Camping stove and fuel
  • Camping cook set
  • Dishes
  • Utensils

Safety

  • Map and compass
  • LED headlamp
  • LED lantern
  • LED flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency fire starter

Other Items

  • Snow shovel
  • Snow pick
  • Plastic zippered bags
  • Garbage bags
  • Waterproof matches in a waterproof container
  • Multi-tool
  • Camping knives
  • Duct tape
  • Reflective blanket
  • 50-foot nylon cord
  • Pencil and paper
  • Necessary camping permits
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Cash

Safety Tips

Dehydration is one of the most common ailments of those who camp in the snow. Drink plenty of fluids during the day, particularly if you are hiking. Always go snow camping with a buddy, and, before your trip, give a person who is not going on the excursion a trip itinerary, the location of your campsite and your cell phone number. Leave a second copy of this information in a marked envelope under the seat of your car. Additionally, plan for worst-case scenarios, and know how to respond with a level head.

Staying Comfortable

If you are cold and wet during your trip, snow camping may be a miserable experience. When packing your clothes, avoid articles made of cotton or cotton blends, because they will not dry quickly. Instead, pack clothing made from water- and sweat-wicking materials and synthetic blends. Place hand warmers in your sleeping bag at night for added warmth, and place your clothes in your sleeping bag in the morning to warm them. Placing a tarp over your tent and fastening it with tent pegs can help trap the heat inside.

Because of the effort it takes, snow camping can be a rewarding experience. However, it can also be a dangerous experience if you are not prepared. Brush up on your cold weather survival skills, get the right gear and make a plan before your trip to ensure your experience is memorable for good reasons.

[ photo by: nappent, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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