Winter Camping Essentials

For any camping trip there are a few essentials to bring along, but winter calls for some special attention. Load the car and fill your backpack with these must-haves for your winter camping trip.


Load up on your favorite mode of navigation, whether it’s a GPS device, compass or paper map. Be sure to protect your navigation tools with a waterproof case and safe storage place. Give in to technology and wear a GPS watch or carry a Garmin with you for easy access and easy navigation assistance.


Stay as safe as possible and bring along a few essentials including a first-aid kit, fire starter and a reflective blanket for emergency shelter and warmth. Your first-aid kit should always include basic care essentials like adhesive bandages, medicine and ointment, but on serious camping expeditions, be sure to add wraps, splints and more advanced care necessities.

Drinking coffee winter camping

© Bondariev Volodymyr | Dreamstime


Dress warmly and prepare for cold weather with insulating apparel. Layer up with moister-wicking, thermal-based clothing from long sleeves, pants, socks, gloves and hats. Bring a face mask, heavy blankets and extra socks to layer up, or change out of wet clothing. Insulated boots will be a must on most winter camping trips, especially if you’re expecting heavy snow.


Winter camping requires a warm shelter, like the Marmot Thor. For around $515–550, the Marmot Thor is made for high winds and winter weather. For more space, check out the Big Sky Chinook for $550. The Chinook adapts to all seasons and can upgrade for winter weather with additional pole options. The winterized version of the Chinook boasts withstanding capabilities against 60 mph winds.


Pack enough snacks for everyone and then some. Bringing more than you think you’ll need is a great safety precaution and you will have peace of mind knowing you have plenty of granola bars, energy bites and power snacks for the whole family. Plan for a few cookouts and make sure you have all of the propane essentials from matches, lighters and fluid to portable and canned food. Check out REI’s list of energy food for hiking to help you choose what to bring on an active camping trip. Bring extra water in a weather-proof bottle to prevent freezing. Keep your water buried in your bag or close to you under insulated clothing. If your water does freeze, you can always make a campfire and warm it back up.