What to Bring Camping in the Winter? {Essential Checklist}

As a trip lover and camping enthusiast, you want to have the most memorable camping experience this winter. If you want to keep your life, your enthusiasm, and your health in good shape, you must know what to bring camping in the cold and how to get it. You’re smart, that is why you are reading this. First, know that staying outside in winter is like challenging a dragon to a fight. You wouldn’t know what hit you (extreme cold, howling snowstorms, ravaging wind, rainstorms, and even wild animals). Don’t be scared, and we’ve got you.

There is essential gear that you can’t do without on a winter camping trip, and there are some that you don’t necessarily need. In this post, we will be looking first at the essential life-saving gear that you would not even survive a night without and some extra gear that are useful but which you can live without. So here you are, no waste of time before you get cold feet.

Essential Life-Saving Winter Camping Gear

Now, if you love your life and your passion for camping, I would advise that you make a checklist of all the gear which we will highlight in this section and mark each one you’ve got off so that we would not have one less person that reads our posts. We love you for reading. We would not want you to freeze! (Except if that is an order.)

So here are the essential gear for winter camping:

#1 – A-Bomb Proof Tent

Hey, I’m serious. You need a bombproof tent if you are going out against the cold dragon. Lol. You might wonder, what does he mean by Bomb Proof Tent, is there any tent that can hold in a bomb? To answer that, I would ask, “Who would bomb a tent?” If your answer is positive, then don’t use a tent. If your answer is None, you need a bombproof tent because what I meant by bombproof tent is that the tent can withstand heavy rain and can sustain winds and heavy snow. Usually, 4 season tents are called bombproof.

However, a good bombproof tent depends mostly on the quality and cost of the materials used in designing a tent. Tents with aluminum poles cost more, and they are lighter and stronger than most. Tents fabrics come in different grades and degrees of waterproofing, and many are bear-proof. This means that it is not likely to be punctured by a bear’s claws. So you must get a bombproof tent. Otherwise, you know… If you need help to get the best bombproof 4 season tent for your next winter camping trip, click here.

#2 – Ultra-warm Sleeping Bag

If you have ever slept in the cold and felt it even in the comfort of your house, be prepared for a worse nipping experience in the cold outside under your tent. No matter how warm your camping tent is, the winter cold is always freezing. No one can sleep feeling very cold. That’s why you need to crawl into a soft and warm sleeping bag after an exhausting day of slogging through snow.

There are different types of sleeping bags to choose from, from thermal sleeping bags to insulated sleeping bags. This largely focuses on the temperature of the place your sleeping overnight. However, if you want something cozy and comfortable to give you optimum healthy sleep, consider getting a 0° Celsius or 17° Fahrenheit sleeping bag. They will provide you enough wiggle room and coziness no matter how low the temperature gets.


#3 – Cold Weather Sleeping Pads

Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pads

Don’t buy this if you’re packing your master bed (which you’ll never try packing in the first place, haha). The sleeping pad is going to save you from getting cold from the floor of your tent (or if the ground if your tent has no floor structure). A sleeping pad is as essential as a sleeping bag.

Sleeping pads are made and rated with R values. The higher the R-value, the better. My favorite sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. This pad is not too big, it looks like an emergency blanket, and it’s excellent at an R-value of 5.7, it holds your body heat and reflects it so that you don’t get any cool vibes from the floor. However, there are other sleeping pads, even with higher R-value.

#4 – Plenty of Food & Cooking Utensils/Supplies

Oh yeah, I’m a foodie. Call me whatever you want but face it, how long can you go without food? You should bring food that is hot, easy to make, and stable. If you are camping for a long while, bring non-perishable or durable foods. In the cold, eating simple meals like pasta, soup, and oatmeal will help you feel warm and full. Get foods like sandwiches as they are quick and easy to eat. When thinking of food to bring for camping, think about crackers, trail mix, and similar snacks. They give quick boosts of energy throughout the day. Also, come with a lot of butter. Eating butter can provide you the needed nutrients and internal body heat that you need for a whole cold day.

More still, you should pack cooking utensils like stoves and fuel — charcoal, and so on. Thermal water bottles are a compulsory utensil you must pack. Many water bottles are insulated, and this means that they can maintain the drinks’ temperature for a significant period. Another thing you must think about packing is tea packets, a portable coffee maker and grounds, instant coffee, or hot cocoa mix for times when you must whisk something warm to drink. You might be camping at sites that have no water supplies. Make sure to do enough research about the area before you take off.

Sometimes, you might need to pack a platform for cooking. A platform to keep your stove while you cook.

#5 – Winter Clothing


Unless you plan to sleep in your sleeping bag throughout camp, you need winter clothing, and some people call it layers, to keep you warm while you are outside enjoying the fall of the snow, the cold, hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, or whatever other activities you intend to do. So what clothing do you need for this?

  • A big puffy insulated or thermal jacket. It could be synthetic or just natural. Natural jackets are better if you hate the way nylon feels, synthetic is the better choice for wet or damp climates that can keep you from water. Most suitable jackets have layers. These types are more comfortable to wear.
  • Winter boots. Winter boots have an excellent grip on the soles for more friction on the ice, and they are filled inside with much foam to keep your feet comfortable and dry inside. So that no matter how long you stay out in the cold, your feet feel good.
  • Socks and Winter gloves. The best gloves are flexible and comfortable. See here to see my review on the best gloves for icy conditions.
  • No need to talk about this.

These are the significant gear that your life would depend on while you are outside in the cold.

So what other things do you need for winter camping that are albeit not compulsory, can make your camping experience even more memorable and joy-filled?

Winter Camping Gear That You Should Also Bring

This category of winter camping gear comprises every other thing that gives you good vibes during your winter camping expedition. It’s going to be a sweet adventure. Let’s get into it!

#1 – Flashlights or Head Lamps

Because nights get longer and the days get shorter during winter, it is only wise to go camping with battery-powered flashlights or headlamps. Even if you are not afraid of the dark, no one knows what might be lurking in your tent waiting for you to come back. And yes, you would need to shovel snow out of the entrance some times. So get yourself a good headlamp. It would not cost you your life if you don’t, but wait, you cannot be too cautious. I love the Totobay LED lamp because it is very bright with 5000 Lumens led, it also has a ready power bank to charge your phone. It is water-resistant and works on replaceable batteries. Oh shoot, this feels like I am trying to market something, right? Sorry. That’s not my intent. I am just a little too excited. Just check out the headlamp on Amazon, click that link.

#2 – Sunglasses and Goggles

We are talking about the best gear to get through winter. I would have put this one among the necessary equipment, but it caused a controversy. The thing is a few people who enjoy snow camping suffer from what is called snow blindness. This is as a result of the sun penetrating the eyes. It is more dangerous because of the cold environment. It attacks the eye directly and makes you feel a burning sensation. People camping at high altitudes are the ones that face this threat more. Even on overcast or partially cloudy days, the reflection of the sun from the bright snow surface is intense enough to cause damage. That is why we recommend performance-oriented sunglasses or glacier goggles as they tend to cover most of your eye area.

#3 – Maps or navigation Device

Finding your way in winter is a little more complicated and challenging because snow covers almost everywhere, and it alters the shape and appearance of the landscape. So if you don’t want to get lost in the terrain when you go out of your tent, you must get a topographical map, and it’s always best to carry a GPS device to double-check your location. There are cool GPS apps you can install on your phone that can track routes, and that can provide offline map-viewing because the weather can obstruct the signals sometimes. More so, the cold weather can cause your phone battery to drain even faster. That is why it is very advisable to keep your cell phone close to your warm body to maximize its longevity.

#4 – First Aid Kit

In case of emergencies, you should carry a first aid kit along with you. Please don’t wait there on your own when something serious happens, quickly come out to seek professional medical help. Moreover, you should have a first aid kit where you can carry necessary medications, and other things band-aids and bandages. If you don’t want to start buying all of these things, some retail stores sell pre-packaged first aid kits that you can buy directly.

What Else Do You Need?

You need cool and useful tips that can make your camping experience more enjoyable. See them here:

  • Don’t place your tent on snow; otherwise, the snow would melt and move in your tent can cause a tear on the floor.
  • Invest in some good pee bottles that will allow you to do your business while standing or in your sleeping bag. It will also provide warmth throughout the night.
  • Boil the snow before you drink. Most people think snow is clean to drink but eww! It’s still the ground.
  • Sleep with your boots on to minimize your tendency to get cold feet.
  • Hang a candle lantern inside the tent for warmth
  • Dry your sleeping bag inside out during the day
  • Use Vaseline on your skin

These tips will not only give you a better camping experience, but they will also give you good health even after camping.

Winter camping for anyone can be a challenge, but if you have the right gear and you prepare well, even the coldest nights can be enjoyable. So we advise that you make a checklist of what you read here and write each one off as you get them ready for camping.