The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping in Canada

The Best Sleeping Bags for Camping in Canada

Camping in Canada often means sleeping outside on cold nights—sometimes even in the summer! You’ll need a sleeping bag that helps you rest comfortably, while also helping you retain body heat so you don’t turn into a popsicle overnight. But what features should Canadian campers look for in their sleeping bags, and what are the best sleeping bags on the market right now?

We know a thing or two about camping, so we’ve got a few ideas to help you out. Below, you’ll learn what to look for when buying a sleeping bag to use in this wild and gorgeous country and find a few of our favourite models currently available for purchase.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Sleeping Bag?

Like tents, sleeping bags come in a variety of different styles and materials. Different sleeping bags are typically intended for different situations, so it’s vital that you think carefully about the type of trip you’re planning before picking and packing your bag.

Consider the following when selecting your sleeping bag:

  • Are you staying at a campsite or backpacking? Sleeping bags made for camping are designed to provide comfort and warmth. They’re also designed to stay in the tent once you pitch it, so they tend to be heavier and bulkier than sleeping bags for backpacking.

You won’t want to drag around a sleeping bag for camping if you’re hiking from site to site over multiple days (or weeks)—but you also won’t get as much comfort from a backpacker’s bag if you bring it on a casual camping excursion. Choose accordingly.

  • How cold is it going to get? Not all sleeping bags are rated for the same range of temperatures. Most sleeping bags fall into one of 3 different categories:
    • Summer Season: 0° and up
    • 3-Season: -15° to -1°
    • Winter: -15° or below

For best results, choose a bag rated for a few degrees colder than the conditions in which you plan to camp. After all, Canadian weather is notoriously unpredictable.

  • What kind of insulation do you want? Most sleeping bags come with either down or synthetic insulation. Here’s a quick overview of each:

Down Pros:

  • Lighter
  • Easier to compress
  • Remains fluffy for longer

Down Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Loses heat when wet
  • Made from animal products (feathers)
  • Must be carefully cleaned

Synthetic Pros:

  • Easy to care for
  • Not made from animal products
  • More affordable
  • Still holds in heat when wet

Synthetic Cons:

  • Heavier
  • Harder to compress
  • Does not remain fluffy as long
  • How does your sleeping bag fit? Sleeping bags generally come in the following sizes:
    • Rectangular: These bags are often more comfortable and affordable than others, but less efficient at keeping in heat and harder to pack or move.
    • Barrel: These bags are designed to be slightly tighter than rectangular bags, which gives them better thermal efficiency. They’re generally a bit more expensive, but are also lighter and easier to carry. Some also feature hoods.
    • Mummy: Mummy bags are light and cut to fit close to the body while you sleep. They are usually the most expensive kind, but also the easiest to move and the most thermally efficient.
  • What features or add-ons do you need? Some sleeping bags come with additional accessories to make you more comfortable, such as extra zippers to adjust ventilation and stash pockets to store items you want to keep close.

3 Sleeping Bags Ideal for Camping in Canada

We’ve picked out our favourite rectangular, barrel, and mummy bags for Canadian campers who crave comfort. Check them out below: 

The North Face Dolomite One Double Sleeping Bag on white background

The North Face Dolomite One Double +10C, -1C, -9C Sleeping Bag (Unisex)

Price: $290 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A 3-season rectangular sleeping bag with room for two, this high-quality offering from The North Face uses synthetic insulation made from 50% recycled material. It also comes with a multilayer zipper quilt system so you can swap out the insulation for maximum comfort in different conditions. It’s not the tightest or the lightest sleeping bag, but you’ll sleep very comfortably on a casual camping trip, whether you’re with a partner or by yourself.

The North Face One Bag +4/-7/-15C Down Sleeping Bag on white background

The North Face One Bag +4/-7/-15C Down Sleeping Bag (Unisex)

Price: $400-415 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A barrel sleeping bag that can take you from summer to mild winter camping, this product uses responsibly sourced down for insulation and comes with a large adjustable hood to keep your head and neck toasty on chilly nights. It also features multiple layers of insulation for different temperature ranges, which can easily be zipped in and out of the shell.

Nemo Disco -9C Down Sleeping Bag on white background

Nemo Disco -9C Down Sleeping Bag (Men’s)

Price: $420-440 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A mummy bag intended for backcountry use, this lightweight down bag offers lightweight 3-season protection from the elements. It also features a waterproof footbox and hood, so you won’t have to worry about a bit of moisture spoiling your sleep. The women’s version is nearly identical, and both versions are cut to accommodate back or side sleepers.

Sleep Easier on Your Canadian Camping Trip

The options above should give you plenty to choose from, but feel free to use what you’ve learned here to find a different bag that’s perfect for you! We wish you sweet dreams and warm appendages next time you venture out to camp in the Canadian wilds.

The Best Tents for Camping in Canada

The Best Tents for Camping in Canada

Canada offers some of the world’s best natural scenery, but much of it is located in some of the world’s harshest environments. Camping in this country can be a dream come true, but you’ll need an appropriate tent to make sure that dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare when snow, rain, or wind makes an unexpected appearance.

Luckily, we’ve got some tips you can use to choose the perfect tent for camping in any Canadian weather—during any season! Let us guide you towards gear that will give you confidence when planning your next camping trip.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Tent?

Not all tents are equal—most are designed for specific environments and applications. Choosing the best tent for your upcoming trek into the Canadian wilds will depend on where you plan to go, and when.

Consider the following when selecting your tent:

  • How far off the grid are you going? There’s a big difference between manicured campsites in provincial parks and backcountry bushwhacking. Tents designed for casual campers may not have the same sturdy designs and tough materials as those intended for more advanced adventurers.
  • How many people are in your party? Snug tents are great for single sleepers, but you’ll need more room for group outings. You’ll want a tent that fits every member of your party while leaving a few centimeters between each sleeping bag for comfort (although you’ll want to pack in tighter to share warmth if you’re camping in cold weather).
  • When are you going? If you’re camping in winter, make sure to take a 4-season tent. If you’re going in warmer weather, a 3-season tent will probably do the trick.
  • What kind of weather can you expect? Check the weather report for the area you’ll be visiting before you choose your tent. Some tents are waterproof and some aren’t—don’t find out which kind you have the hard way.
  • Will you need luxury features, accessories, or add-ons? We’re not a glamping blog, but if that’s the only way to get you out into the woods or mountains, we’re not judging. Just make sure your tent has the amenities you need to feel comfortable during your trip.

4 Tents Ideal for Camping in Canada

Based on the considerations above, we’ve picked out 4 tents ideal for camping in different Canadian environments.

Marmot Tungsten Tent on white background

Marmot Tungsten Tent

Price: $270 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

Ideal for single backpackers on trips in warmer weather, this tent uses colour-coded clips and poles to make setup quick and easy. It also includes a footprint for floor protection, making it more comfortable to sleep in when camping in rugged environments. Finally, the built-in vestibule offers room for your gear and a waterproof place to put your boots on before leaving.

Eureka! Alpenlite 2 XT 2-Person Tent on white background

Eureka! Aplenlite 2 XT 2-Person Tent

Price: $530 CAD

Where to Buy: MEC

A 2-person tent that can stand up to pretty much the worst weather imaginable, this tent is designed with 6 poles that give it plenty of support even in howling winds or under heavy snow. It also has a UV-resistant fly, which offers vital protection during long hours of sun exposure at high elevations. This is a 4-season tent you and a buddy can take right up to the top of the Rockies in the dead of winter.

North Face Homestead Domey 3 Tent on white background

North Face Homestead Domey 3 Tent

Price: $350 CAD

Where to Buy: Altitude Sports

A slightly larger 4-season tent that can sleep 3 people, this single wall tent is waterproof and comes with a duffel-bag style stuff sack for easier transportation. It’s not just for winter camping, though—warm-weather features include a mesh skylight perfect for stargazing on spring or summer evenings.

Northern Breeze 12 Tent on white background

Northern Breeze 12 Tent

Price: $670 CAD

Where to Buy: Altitude Sports

It ain’t cheap, but you get what you pay for—and in this case, you get a lot. A screen house that converts into a large tent by way of an optional floor, this shelter is as expansive as it is expensive.

Its lightweight aluminium construction makes it easy to travel with, and full external rain and wind flaps make it almost completely waterproof. All 4 flaps can be used as awnings too, making this an ideal product for the glampers out there. This is about as close to a luxury tent as you can get for a Canadian camping trip without getting impractical.

Pitch Your Tent Proudly

We hope one of the tents above provides you with suitable accommodations for your next Canadian camping trip (or at least that our criteria helps you find another tent that will meet your needs effectively). Next step? Book your campground and pack the rest of your items—adventure awaits!

 

Essential Camping Gear for Summer

Essential Camping Gear for Summer

Summer camping might sound easier than pitching a tent in January, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to skimp on supplies. Remember, any trip to the great outdoors requires appropriate preparation, no matter how nice the weather is.

 

 

We’ve put our experience to use making a list of summer camping essentials for you, including recommendations for perishable items and equipment. Use these suggestions as the basis for your packing checklist, then find your campsite and enjoy your excursion!

What Makes Summer Camping Different?

Summer camping comes with its own unique challenges, though they might not be as obvious as those you’ll face in other seasons. Here are a few factors you’ll need to consider when packing for your trip:

  • Bright sunlight: Summer tends to feature more clear skies than other seasons, but too much sunlight can be bad for you. You’re going to want appropriate eye and skin protection for everyone on your trip.
  • Higher temperatures: Hot weather can raise your body temperature and make you lose water more quickly. You’ll want clothing that helps you stay cool, and a way to keep yourself hydrated. Food can also spoil more easily in the heat, so bringing a way to preserve it is a smart decision.
  • Insects: You don’t have to worry about bugs in winter, but summer camping means dealing with various tiny bloodsucking pests.
  • Wildlife: Animals tend to be more active during the summer, which means you’ll probably need a way to store your food items and anything else that could attract them more securely.
  • Fire Hazards: Summer tends to be dry—and while that makes it easier to find kindling, it can also make it easier to accidentally start a forest fire if you aren’t careful. You’ll want to take cooking gear along that reduces that risk.

Camping chair with mat and puppy next to secure cooler in forest

Via CleverHiker.

10 Pieces of Summer Camping Gear Worth Packing

Here are 10 pieces of camping gear to help you prevent or solve the problems above. Use these ideas to keep your next summer camping trip safe, comfortable, and fun.

Breathable Clothing

You still need to dress warm when camping in summer, because temperatures can plummet overnight—even after warm days. That means your clothing needs to be able to keep you cozy, but it also has to be breathable so air can get in and cool you down when the temperature rises.

A Cooler

Speaking of cool, taking a cooler on your trip and filling it with ice is a great way to extend the length of perishable food in hot weather. A cooler also helps keep food away from wildlife because it’s harder to open than a bag and keeps the smell inside.

Canteens

We tend to move more in nice weather, which means you’re likely to sweat more during a summer camping trip than in other seasons. We recommend keeping water on your person at all times when you’re camping in the summertime—but don’t settle for disposable plastic bottles, which can break easily and contribute to littering. Instead, consider purchasing a durable and reusable canteen.

A Ventilated Tent

4 season tents are designed to prevent heat loss, which makes them ideal for winter trips. They can be used during summer too, but they may be less comfortable on hot nights than a tent with better ventilation. Consider a 3 season tent if you’re camping in a region where conditions vary, or a summer tent if you know you can count on warm temperatures for the duration of your adventure.

An Energy Efficient Stove

When you’re camping in winter, you want a tent that disperses a significant amount of heat during use so it can keep you warm. But in summer, this can make meal preparation uncomfortable—and it can even become a fire hazard. We recommend bringing an energy efficient camping stove that uses propane or liquid gas.

A Knife

Knives are essential for every camping trip, but in summer you can worry less about features like padded grips, which can help prevent your hand from getting cold in the winter. Instead, focus on bringing a knife that is sharp enough, long enough, and easy to pack. You’re going to use it for everything from whittling wood to cleaning and gutting fish.

Sunscreen

Whenever you’re outside for more than a few minutes, it’s smart to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. We recommend bringing sunscreen with SPF 50 or above and reapplying it every 30 minutes while you’re outdoors during daylight hours.

Sunglasses

Your skin isn’t the only thing you’ll want to protect from sunlight; UV rays can also damage your eyes. Lower your risk for eye disease and prevent the sun from blinding you during outdoor activities by packing a pair of sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.

Insect Repellant

Summer camping offers many natural delights, but ticks and mosquitoes are not among them. Bring along mosquito repellant and apply it often during outdoor activities—and be sure to check yourself and other campers for ticks after walking through tall grass, bushes, or heavily forested areas!

Bear Spray

We hope you’ll never need to use this one, but it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Containing red pepper derivatives that cause significant discomfort to a bear’s eyes and respiratory system, making it an effective deterrent about 90% of the time. Make sure to carry your bear spray in a holster on your person instead of putting it where it can get lost or be difficult to access (like a mesh pocket or deep inside a backpack).

Protect Yourself and Enjoy Your Next Summer Camping Trip

Taking the right gear on a summer camping trip can keep you safe from sunlight, heat, wildlife, dehydration, and more. Make sure to take these items next time you camp in warm weather, and check out our guide to packing for winter camping trips next!

 

 

 

How to Successfully Camp in the Snow

How to Successfully Camp in the Snow

Winter can seem like a more challenging time to go on a camping trip, but camping in the snow is entirely possible—in fact, it can even be a lot of fun! But if you’re planning to sleep outside in snowy weather, you’ll need to pack the right gear and take some safety precautions.

Fortunately, we know all about how to camp comfortably in all conditions, and snow is no exception. Below, you’ll find our tips on how to successfully camp in the snow.

Camping in the Snow: What Should You Expect?

Snow presents unique challenges for campers. Here are a few factors you’ll want to consider:

  • Wind: A gust or two can be irritating for campers in any season—but when the weather is snowy, wind can do more than blow your tent over. Wind can also blow considerable amounts of snow into your campsite, making your gear wet and buying exposed objects.
  • Avalanches: Not all snow falls gently—and if an avalanche occurs, you don’t want to be in the way.
  • Hidden Hazards: Snow can make rough or uneven terrain look smooth and flat, but don’t be deceived! Crevasses, hollows, and water hazards are just a few of the things you’ll want to make sure aren’t lurking under a thin layer of freshly fallen white stuff.
  • Orientation Challenges: Retracing your steps in the snow might sound easy—unless more snow starts falling. If you’re going to camp in snowy conditions, you’ll need other ways to make sure you know where you are (and how to get back to where you’ve been).
  • Extreme Temperatures: Snow cover changes ambient temperatures. If you’re in a snowy area, always assume you’re going to feel colder than you would in the same conditions if no snow was present.

Cool (But Not Too Cool) Tips for Snowy Camping

Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself for camping in snowy conditions:

  • Drink More Water: Your body still loses moisture in the cold—but since you’ll be sweating less, you might not notice. Make sure to drink water on a regular schedule to avoid accidental dehydration.
  • Eat Well (and Often): Your body also burns more calories in the cold, so you’ll need food that provides more energy. Nuts, chocolate, and energy bars make great snacks throughout the day. You’ll also want to cook plenty of hot and hearty meals for breakfasts and dinners.
  • Look Out for Frostbite: Learning the signs of cold-related injuries like frostbite and hypothermia can save your life—or the life of a fellow camper. You can also help prevent these conditions by avoiding factors that increase their likelihood (such as alcohol consumption).
  • Keep Moving: Remaining active during snowy weather will prevent the cold from making you tired and help your body produce more heat. However, it will also cause you to burn more calories and lose more moisture (which is why eating right and hydrating are so important).

What to Pack for Successfully Camping in the Snow

Knowing how to adjust your routine for camping in cold weather is one thing, but you’ll also need specific gear if you plan to camp in the snow. Here are a few items we consider essential:

4 Season Tent

A 3 season tent isn’t going to cut it if you plan on dealing with significant snowfall during your trip. 4 season tents, on the other hand, are built to handle extreme winter conditions. These tents are structured to let large amounts of snow pile up on top without collapsing, and are typically made from more durable fabrics so that they won’t rip and leak heat.

Winter Sleeping Bag

Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for at least a few degrees lower than the coldest temperature you plan to sleep in, and ensure that it fits snugly. Empty space in a sleeping bag makes it easier for your body heat to escape and prevents you from staying warm overnight.

2 Sleeping Pads

Camping on snow requires additional tent insulation to prevent heat loss through the floor of your tent. Double up on your sleeping pads, and make sure to use insulation with higher R-values.

A Winterproof Stove

Not all portable stoves are suitable for camping in snowy weather. You’ll need a stove that is resistant to cold weather, and it’s also wise to choose a model that produces significant amounts of heat so it can pull double-duty as a source of warmth. Consider the type of fuel your stove uses—wood produces a lot of heat but is harder to pack and carry, while liquid fuel often burns better at high altitudes.

Warm Clothing

Last (but certainly not least), make sure to pack appropriate snow clothes. We recommend warm socks, snow boots, mid-weight base layers, fleece pants, a warm coat, a waterproof shell (jacket and pants), a hat that covers your ears, thick gloves, and sunglasses.

Campsite Setup Tips for Camping in the Snow

Before pitching your tent in a snowy region, follow these tips to ensure your safety:

  • Stay Out of the Wind: Pitching your tent near trees (as long as they don’t look damaged or unsteady) is an excellent way to shield yourself from blowing snow while you sleep. If you’re camping in an open area, try building a wall of snow around your tent instead.
  • Avoid Avalanches: Don’t pitch your tent near rock walls or steep inclines if you think snow (or anything else) might slide down them. The last thing you want is to get buried under a drift while you sleep.
  • Pack Down the Snow: Prevent yourself from sinking into a drift overnight by packing down the snow at your campsite before pitching your tent.
  • Look for Landmarks: Snow that falls overnight can change the appearance of a campsite and disorient you in the morning, so try to choose a site with at least one or two obvious landmarks nearby.
  • Have Water Nearby: You don’t want to camp directly on ice, but having a water source nearby can prevent you from having to melt snow for drinking water if you run out.

Ideal Sites for Camping in the Snow This Winter

Here are some of our favourite snowy winter campsites:

Plamondon Whitesands

A family-oriented RV park and campground with onsite water near Lac La Biche.

Mossbank RV Park

A quiet campground located near numerous recreational facilities.

Bruderheim Starlight Campground

A peaceful and relaxing campground near Bruderheim Sand Hills.

Wagons West RV Park

A clean and quiet campground with 62 full-service sites.

Knouff Lake Wilderness Resort

One of the oldest 4-season run resorts of its kind in British Columbia.

Cogburn Family Wilderness Resort

A safe and enjoyable family-friendly campground.

Campbell Valley Camping Experience

A destination campground located on 5 acres of private property.

Don’t Let a Little Snow Stop You from Camping

Successfully camping in the snow can be easier than you think, as long as you’re prepared. Use the tips above to make sure your next winter camping trip is snow problem at all.

 

Fun Things to Do While Camping in the Summer

Fun Things to Do While Camping in the Summer

Plamondon Whitesands Resort

Summer may be in the rear-view mirror this year, but if you’re anything like us then you’re already planning next year’s first summer camping trip. That gives you plenty of time to organize the gear and supplies you’ll need before you head into the wilderness again, so you’ll definitely be able to stock up on some new items over the next few months. You’ll also want to brainstorm some new activities for your next warm-weather camping excursion, and our team is here to help. Below, you’ll find our list of fun things to do and essential equipment to bring on your next summer camping adventure.

Fun Things to Bring on Your Summer Camping Trip

Some activities can be performed without specific tools or toys—but not these. Don’t worry; we’ll get to the activities that don’t require any special gear later. But first, consider bringing some of these things along next time you go camping in summer.

Sleep in the Shade with a Hammock

One of the nicest things about camping in warm weather is the ability to sleep comfortably outside. Buy a hammock and hang it up between two trees to create a perfect place for catching some Zs without soaking up too many UV rays in the process. Hammocks also make ideal places to read, or just lounge in nice weather with a drink in hand!

Enjoy a Warm Wash with a Solar Shower

You don’t have to sacrifice all the comforts of home when you go camping. Solar showers use the sun’s rays to heat up water for your daily wash, providing you with a luxurious soak even when you’re “roughing it”. Let those bright summer days help keep you clean in style!

Have a Tubular Time with an Inflatable Kayak

Mountain rivers and lakes are at their most inviting during the year’s warmest months, and a watercraft you can inflate is much easier to pack than one you need to mount on top of a vehicle. When you buy an inflatable kayak, you’ll also save yourself the pain of portaging it to and from the water—although we strongly recommend pairing it with a bike pump or portable air compressor so you won’t have to blow it up with your mouth.

Kayaking on a lake while camping in the summer

Use a Solar Fire Starter to Cook with the Power of the Summer Sun

When you’re camping in the darker portions of the year, you won’t always have the sun handy as a source of energy—but the summer offers many opportunities to make sunshine work for you. Case in point: this solar fire starter, which can save you money on fuel and make you feel like a rugged explorer whenever you’re getting ready to roast marshmallows.

Make a Margarita with a Hand-crank Blender

Thanks to some innovative party animal, crushed ice is no longer a luxury you can only find in the city. And what better way to enjoy a perfect summer day in the wilderness than by kicking back (maybe in that hammock from earlier) with a refreshing margarita or two (or three)? This hand-crank blender will provide you with all the crushed ice you need—no electrical outlet required.

Fun Things to Do on Your Summer Camping Trip

Of course, there are lots of ways to have fun on a summer camping adventure that don’t involve buying fancy new gear, and they’re equally worth your time. Try some of these activities that require little more than good weather and the right attitude:

Check Out the Night Sky by Stargazing

Summer nights often offer clear skies, so make the most of them! Staying up late and counting constellations is an excellent way to experience all the magic this season has to offer (for best results, bring along a star chart so you can tell what you’re looking at).

looking at the clear stars in the night while camping away from the city.

Turn the Lake Into a Playground with Water Balloon Dodgeball

This one’s great fun for kids and adults (c’mon, who doesn’t love a good water balloon fight?). Just make sure you’re using environmentally-friendly water balloons and cleaning up after yourself—it’s always best to leave nature as good or better than you found it.

Light Up Your Night with a Beach Bonfire

If you’re camping near a beach, building a bonfire can set the stage for an unforgettable evening. Just make sure that you’re following the law; most provinces have strict regulations about when and where bonfires can be held. Find out if you’ll need permits, secure them ahead of time, then pack your sticks and marshmallows!

Stay Active with a Game of Frisbee Golf

All you need for this simple and fun game is a frisbee, some open space, and nice enough weather to play in. The concept is pretty similar to regular golf: you set up “holes” using markers, then see how many throws it takes before you can get the frisbee to them!

Keep the Bugs Away with Natural Bug Bombs

Summer camping offers the nicest weather and the most daylight, but it can also come with plenty of pests. Instead of spraying insect repellent every few minutes and slapping yourself silly, have fun keeping unwanted critters away by taking some time to make bug bombs from sage, lavender, and other plants growing near your campsite! You can find an easy and effective recipe here.

Fill Your Next Summer Camping Trip with Fun

The clear skies, balmy temperatures, and long days of summer make it easy to enjoy your experience in the great outdoors. Use the suggestions above for inspiration, and feel free to contact us with any other summer camping ideas you want to share!

 

Popular Summer Campgrounds

 

Essential Winter Camping Gear

Essential Winter Camping Gear

Those who truly love camping love it year-round. Weathering the winter winds can be just as rewarding as sleeping under the summer stars. Of course, the keyword there is “weathering” — so if you’re going camping in the cold, make sure you pack the proper equipment!

The following items will help you stay prepared for the elements on your next winter camping adventure. Read on to discover what you’ll need, and how it will keep you and your party protected.

See also:

What Makes Winter Camping Different?

Camping in the winter will be colder than going during other seasons — but that’s not all that makes it different. In addition to planning for extreme temperatures, you’ll also need gear built for environmental conditions such as ice and snow. Winter campers in backcountry regions will also need protection from howling winds, freezing rain, and avalanches — you know, all the fun stuff!

Finally, make sure you carefully study the area you plan to camp in before leaving home. That’s common sense for campers at any time of year, but in winter, it’s especially crucial since emergency help will likely be harder to reach and will take longer to arrive if you need it.

The Winter Camping Gear You Can’t Go Without

This gear can be useful on any camping trip — in fact, we don’t even recommend that you go camping in the summer without it. However, winter camping trips usually require specific versions of the items listed below, or additional knowledge on using them. Read carefully, so that you’ll know the difference between a sleeping bag that will save your life and one that will just turn you into a frozen burrito for bears.

Warm Clothes

Layers are the law when it comes to camping — but in winter, you’ll need to choose them extra carefully. Just throwing a sweater and some wool socks over generic long underwear won’t necessarily be enough to stop a chill from seeping in through the fabric. We recommend the following three-layered approach:

  • An inner layer of thermal underwear made from moisture-wicking merino wool or synthetics
  • A mid-layer made from either flannel or fleece
  • A top layer that offers strong protection against wind and moisture (such as a ski jacket with a GORE-TEX membrane)

As a general rule of thumb, winter campers should avoid clothing made from cotton. Cotton fabrics can absorb as much as 27 times their weight in water, and don’t hold body heat nearly as well as synthetic or merino wool products.

Extra Food

As we’ve mentioned in other posts, high-calorie food is your friend when you go camping in the wintertime. The more energy you consume, the more heat your body can produce while burning it, making fat- and protein-rich foods ideal. Stock up on bacon, pre-cook a pot of chilli, and pack a few frozen beef burritos — you’ll need to eat roughly double your regular daily caloric intake to keep your energy up. Yum!

Clean Water

What, did you think you could just melt snow to make water? Well, you can — but only if you have a way to purify that water before you drink it. Bringing water purification tablets and a portable stove will allow you to top up your supply if you’re camping in a snowy region. That said, it’s still a good idea to fill your canteens and hot water bottles before embarking.

Shelter

Pay special attention to your tent and sleeping bag while packing for a winter campout. It’s vital to take a tent that is rated appropriately for the conditions you expect to face.

We strongly recommend taking a 4-season tent, as they are made from stiff materials and generally designed to be more compact. These qualities make them sturdier in high winds, less likely to collapse under snowfall, and better at insulating heat.

Mummy bags are generally better for cold-weather camping than standard rectangular sleeping bags. The extra room in a rectangular bag may seem more comfortable at first, but your body will have to produce more heat to warm the excess air between you and the bag as you sleep. Mummy bags are much more snug, meaning you’ll lose less heat at night.

Finally, make sure to carry an emergency shelter on your person to use if you get separated from your campsite and can’t find your way back. Tarps and spare blankets can serve this purpose in the spring or summer, but it’s a safer bet to carry a bivy sack in winter.

Firestarter

You always need a way to start a fire when you’re camping, but winter campers can’t always rely on finding firewood at their campsite. Snowy tinder will most likely be too wet to burn, so you’ll need to bring your supply or pack an artificial heat source. Portable stoves will also help you melt snow into water, as mentioned above.

A Knife

There’s no such thing as a knife just for winter, but you’ll want any utility knife you bring on a winter camping trip to satisfy a few criteria. Firstly, you might want to bring a knife with a brightly-coloured handle so that it won’t get lost if you drop it in the snow. Secondly, consider bringing a knife with a padded grip so that you’ll be able to use it comfortably in the cold.

First-Aid Supplies

Winter first-aid kits should come with a few items not found amongst typical medical supplies. Most of these are for preventing hypothermia by raising a person’s body temperature. You’ll want:

  • Hand warmers
  • A mylar blanket
  • Waterproof matches
  • An instruction manual for dealing with hypothermia and frostbite

Finally, make sure you take along a safety whistle and a pack of flares. You’ll need them if you become separated from your party or need to be found by a search and rescue team.

Navigation Tools

Don’t count on electronic navigation tools when you’re camping in sub-zero temperatures. Battery-powered devices are notoriously unpredictable in the cold, so take a map and compass along — and make sure you know how to read both of them. Pace counting beads can also help you determine how far away you are from your campsite if a blizzard obscures your tracks or covers up landmarks.

A Headlamp

Flashlights are great for lighting your way in the dark, but they’re not as good for helping you work in dim conditions — since you need an entire hand just to hold them. Lanterns are a great alternative when you can rest them on solid ground, but they’re more likely to sink or tip over when you put them in snow.

Headlamps provide reliable and controllable illumination while leaving your hands free. Just remember to take an external battery pack if you’re camping in the cold since these devices can be just as susceptible to battery problems as an electronic GPS.

Sun Protection

We know — now that summer’s over, you’ve already stowed away the sunscreen. Well, you’d better dig it out of the closet and pack it into your winter camping supplies, because the sun still shines in the wintertime.

What’s more, snow and ice can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays into your eyes and skin from unexpected angles, causing damage and obscuring your vision during potentially dangerous activities. Besides sunscreen, always bring a pair of polarized sunglasses on a retainer leash, plus a sun-hat and SPF-rated lip balm.

With Winter Camping Gear, Details Make the Difference

While you might enjoy camping in any season, not all of your gear will serve you year-round. Learning how to augment your regular loadout will ensure that you stay protected from bad weather and ready for action — even in the harshest environments.