sitting in tent in snow

Camping In Winter: The Essential Winter Camping Packing List

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Camping in winter can be a lot of fun, but it is important to make sure that you are prepared for the cold. You need to make sure you’re not freezing in your tent at night. In this article, we share winter camping tips and tricks for staying warm and provide an extensive winter camping checklist of everything you need for a cold-weather camping adventure!

family camping in winter

Preparing For Camping In Winter

You’ve planned your first (or next) winter camping trip and you want to make sure you’re prepared for the cold.

Many people choose not to go camping in winter unless they live in an area with mild winter temperatures, however, it can be a lot of fun… and you’ll enjoy fewer people at the campgrounds at this time of year compared to summer camping.

This is just one of the reasons to go camping during winter.

There is also that satisfying feeling of sitting by a campfire on a cold night, snuggled up in your winter gear, and enjoying the crisp chilled air during your outdoor adventure.

Winter camping doesn’t instantly mean camping in snow but that’s also another option and when you are sleeping in the wilderness with a chance of snow, you need to take extra precautions and planning steps for your camp trip!

Check out our family camping checklist so you’re sorted for all seasons!

Winter Camping Tips

cooking over camp oven in snow

Camping in winter is a great way to get outside and enjoy the cooler air. Properly prepare for camping when it’s cold out by packing an essential winter camping gear list.

You need to ensure you are well prepared for the potential temperature ranges, especially if there is a chance of snow.

This means waterproof camping gear and extra items to keep you warm and safe during those overnight temperature drops.

Here are some quick tips for winter camping:

  • Pack layers of clothing (thermal underwear, outerwear, hats, gloves, etc) to stay warm
  • Have a suitable tent for the climate and weather conditions
  • Use a winter sleeping bag that is suitable for your overnight temperatures
  • Consider using a tent heating system if needed (but make sure you have adequate ventilation)
  • A hot, high-calorie camping diet will help you warm up and maintain energy in the cold weather
  • Bring supplies with you suited for winter camping (like hand warmers) so you are prepared when the temperatures drop
  • Daylight hours are shorter in wintertime compared to the rest of the year so plan to finish your outdoor activities earlier so you can return to the campsite during daylight to prepare for the low temperatures overnight
  • Try to bring in the camping gear you need before it gets dark so that you don’t have to go out into the cold as often
  • Set up your tent in a spot with a wind break if possible, especially if camping when there are high winds
  • Ensure you have adequate means of communication or are near enough to populated areas to seek help if needed
  • If you are a camping beginner, ease yourself into winter camping by going on the shoulder seasons before the temperatures fully drop to winter lows

Winter Camping Essentials: Cold Weather Camping Checklist

couple sitting by campfire

We will cover these items in more detail below including some recommended products, however, at a minimum, the absolute essential winter camping gear you need to pack should include:

  • A waterproof tent with a fly and an enclosed floor area, especially suited for cold winter temperatures – This is the most important thing to pack! Tents provide you with protection from both wind and rain. The best way to counter extreme weather conditions is to ensure your entire shelter system (tent + sleeping bag) is appropriate for the level of cold weather you will be experiencing.
  • A ground pad to prevent your tent floor from getting damp and ruining the insulation in your sleeping bag.
  • A winter sleeping bag and a sleeping bag liner – Combined with a sleeping pad will help you stay warm as you sleep.
  • Winter clothing, as the best way to combat cold weather, is by layering your clothes, with the most important pieces of clothing being at the base. Layering up in thermal underwear will help protect you from the cold air that can try to seep through any gaps or openings in your camping gear.
  • Camp cooking equipment for hot meals- Check out our tips for planning your camping meals

Grab our free camping meal planner here:

free printable camping meal planner.

Winter Camping Packing List

This winter camping packing list will help you get started with your preparations, but it’s always important to research the location where you plan on camping and pack accordingly Here is some essential cold camping gear:

The Best Tent For Winter Camping

One of the most important winter camping gear items is your tent. You’ll want to find a waterproof, windproof tent that will protect you from any incoming natural disasters or unexpected inclement weather while keeping moisture out and heat in.

There are 4-season tent options that are designed to withstand any type of winter weather, but these tents can be quite expensive and heavy.

If you’re camping in a more temperate or milder climate with fewer extreme temperatures, there are many brands that offer less expensive two-season tents that will provide UV protection from the sun during warm months as well as water resistance for rain and snow.

When choosing a tent for winter camping or any type of outdoor activity in cooler temperatures, make sure that there is enough ventilation and that they have been designed to keep out any rain or snow.

If you are camping in winter, it is also a good idea to have a tent that has been designed for extreme cold weather and temperatures.

No matter what the terrain of your campsite, these tents can be found with all types of features such as reinforced poles and inflatable floors so they pack up small.

Here are some of the best tents for winter camping:

Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 Tent

The Trango 4 is a great four-person tent for 4 season use! The double-wall design helps block the wind and rain, as well as having plenty of interior pockets to keep your gear safe.

The basecamp design is made with high denier waterproof nylon fabric, featherlight aluminium poles, and two doors and snow flaps to help keep you dry and warm during bad weather.

GEERTOP Backpacking Tent for 2

When you’re looking for a tent that can get through all four seasons, it’s hard to beat the durability and practicality of this model. With its 210T anti-tear checkered polyester material that resists wear and abrasions, not to mention a water-resistant finish with PU 3000mm waterproofing technology – there is no need to worry about rain or snow ruining your experience anymore!

The only downside is this tent is only for 2 people and is not a good option for family camping trips. However, being so lightweight, it makes it a perfect choice for hiking and backpacking and couples sharing body heat during winter trips.

The Best Sleeping Bags For Winter Camping

sitting in tent in snow

Sleeping bags are essential when camping in winter and can be found with three types of insulation: down, synthetic, or a combination.

Down is the best for extreme cold weather but it must be treated carefully to avoid any moisture build-up that may lead to an unpleasant experience that won’t keep you warm, as well as potentially damaging your sleeping bag if you aren’t careful.

Synthetic is the next best option, but it doesn’t compress as well and can be more expensive.

Combination bags are great for camping in winter because they combine both types of insulation to make sure you’re warm even if one type fails, but this comes at a cost of versatility depending on your campsite’s climate.

Here are some of the best recommendations for winter sleeping bags:

TETON Sports 101R Celsius XXL -18C/0F Sleeping Bag

The Celsius XXL will keep you warm and cozy during your next camping trip. It’s a three-season sleeping bag that is filled with innovative fiber fill, which keeps you nice and snug when it’s below freezing outside! The mummy hood has been designed to cinch around your head for added warmth.

Added padding around the head with draft tubes help keep the draft out. It also comes in a left or right zip option to make it most comfortable for your camping experience.

Coleman 0°F Mummy-Style Sleeping Bag (Suitable For Tall Adults)

This Coleman mummy-style sleeping bag is perfect for those who are looking to camp in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It can accommodate most people up to 6 feet 2 inches, and the semi-sculpted hood helps seal in warmth with its tight drawstring feature that’s great when it gets chilly at night.

It also features a zipPlow system which plows away fabric so you don’t snare yourself during zipping – an excellent design!

Sleeping Pad

Make sure you also invest in a sleeping pad for underneath your sleeping bag. Sleeping off the ground is a good way to prevent moisture seeping through your sleeping bag from the cold ground.

Clothing To Pack For Winter Camping Trips

When it comes to packing the right clothing for your winter camping trip, the type of clothing really depends on the temperatures you are expecting.

Make sure you pack to suit the possible minimum temperatures, just in case it drops lower than you planned for.

For winter camping in climates where snow doesn’t typically fall, your clothing will be much like what you would take for a typical any-season camping trip, with the addition of some extra layers and cold weather gear, such as beanies, scarf, gloves, and thermals.

If you are camping in the snow or somewhere that frequently gets snow or frost, you need to make sure to pack your snow jacket, pants, and snow boots as well, and don’t forget the outdoor socks!

having fun in the snow

Here is the list of clothing you will need for a winter camping trip:

  • Base layer – thermals, tights, or leggings
  • Middle layers for warmth – sweater and/or a fleece jacket, jeans, and pants. Merino wool is a great option for staying warm while still being lightweight to help manage your body temperature in winter conditions.
  • Windproof outerwear – heavy coat, snow jacket.
  • Hat or beanie to cover your ears
  • Gloves to keep your hands warm in the cold winter weather. You may need a heavier pair of gloves for the snow
  • Scarf or neck warmer to keep your throat and head warm. You may need a scarf that covers more than just your neck on winter camping trips
  • Socks to keep your feet warm. You may want a thicker pair of socks for a winter camping trip. Take several pairs of socks as well as liner socks because warm feet are essential!
  • Boots that are waterproofed, such as snow boots. Snowboots will come with insulation in them so they’re good for winter camping. It might be worth taking an extra pair of boots so you don’t end up having to wear wet boots with only one pair.
  • Snow pants because they’re windproof and water-resistant. They will keep you warm in the winter weather too
  • Underwear and bras – Enough for the length of the camping trip.
  • Sunglasses – This may seem like an unusual winter packing item but you should always keep your eyes protected from the sun, in all seasons. Even in the snow, when the glare of the sun can be bright!

Winter Camping Safety

When you are trying to stay warm in winter, you may be tempted to add heating to your tent. Always ensure you use safe methods to do so.

Carbon dioxide poisoning is a potential risk.

Any equipment using gas, wood, petrol, oil, kerosene, or diesel can pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

This includes camping stoves and fuel-burning lamps, coolers, heaters, generators, and any other fuel-burning camping equipment. To prevent this, keep your tent ventilated when using any fuelled equipment.


The key to a successful winter camping trip is being prepared. The winter camping packing list is a great resource for anyone who wants to hit the outdoors this season. If you are new to cold weather camping, remember that it’s always better to prepare more than you need rather than less! Be sure to check out these awesome tips before embarking on your next adventure.

We hope this guide helps you know what to pack for winter camping for beginners!

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winter camping packing list