Although the daylight hours are shorter and the weather is more intense in the winter, camping during that time is quite the experience. In fact, with some preparation and the right gear, you can enjoy the solitude and beauty that comes with winter camping to the fullest. Here are some of the safety guidelines that you should follow when camping in the winter.
1. Bring friends.
As tempting as it might be to explore the wilderness on your own, keep in mind that nature isn’t forgiving. Because of this you always need to make sure that you bring friends with you whenever you camp in the winter. Ideally, you should bring people who already have some winter skills, like navigating in the snow, making shelter and finding routes.
2. Get to know the region beforehand.
Before you camp anywhere in the winter, make sure you study different maps in order to get to know the region better. Physical maps will show you where are all of the mountains, lakes and rivers are, as well as the roads. They will also provide scales, so you can gauge how long it would take you to get to certain places. Topographic maps, on the other hand, will use contour lines to show you different landscape features. When lines are very close together, that means the terrain is very steep.
3. Do more research on the area beforehand.
Aside from studying maps, you should also check the different trail and road conditions beforehand. Some things you should look for include online reviews from other people who have already camped in the area before. Find out about any support businesses and emergency services, as well.
Aside from that, you should also calculate how long it would approximately take for search, rescue or medical teams to get to you. If you have plans of visiting areas with deep snow, learn how to recognize avalanche areas and avoid them altogether. Check out the local avalanche forecasts beforehand, as well, and steer clear if the danger is high.
4. Let people know about your plans.
Let other people know about your plans, including when you will be leaving and when you will be back. Including as much information as possible, too, including vehicle information and the contact information of the other people that you will be camping with.
5. Get the weather details.
A lot of the time, winter storms appear out of nowhere and when they do, they are completely merciless. As such, it would be vital for you to check the weather services to find out the forecast for the areas that you plan on camping in.
6. Dress well.
As a general rule, you need to stay dry and warm when camping during the winter. To do this, it would be best to wear layers that wick moisture, insulate, dry quickly, and are breathable and waterproof. Here are some simple tips on you can adjust your clothing layers in order to stay dry and warm at all times:
For your base layer, keep things simple and light. This means wearing a shirt, pants and socks. Merino or synthetic wool fabrics work well for wicking sweat away to outer layers, so that they can evaporate. For your base layer, steer clear of cotton at all times.
For your insulating layer, look for shirts, pants and jackets that are made out of microfleece or expedition-weight fleece, so that they can retain the heat of your body. A goose down jacket works, too. Also, wear heavier socks over your basic socks, depending on the fit of your boots. Make sure your boots aren’t too tight; otherwise, they won’t keep your feet warm in the winter at all.
The third later will work as your breathable but waterproof and windproof shell. At the very least, you should wear a Gore-Tex jacket, but you should consider wearing some Gore-Tex pants, too. Try to find underarm and core vents that expel moisture and heat, and don’t forget to bring a windproof cap or hat to keep your head warm, and mittens or gloves to keep your fingers safe. Always have an extra pair handy in case your first pair gets wet, too.