Solo Camping In The Winter: 7 Beginner Tips

Rilor Staff
Update: July 29, 2022
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Camping solo is fun, especially if you know the ins and outs of camping, hiking, and any outdoor endeavor in between. But have you ever tried camping solo during the winter? If given the opportunity, would you pass or tap this adventure?

Of course, winter camping is something that you shouldn't miss. The cold season is the best time to experience the tranquility of nature. There's something about the winter that makes it worth relishing and cherishing. From the all-white terrain to the soothing morning and evening breeze, these things can only be manifested during the cold season. 

However, many people tend to hesitate about the idea of winter camping. The sheer thought of dealing with cold temperatures makes campers back down. However, you should realize that camping in the winter is a lot easier than you think. And in fact, it is something that you can do alone. 

The key here is preparation and planning. Once you get the necessary gear and knowledge, you will be able to embark on the most desirable frigid journey. Below are some of the tips that can help you survive a solo winter camp. 

How To Solo Camp In Winter

As mentioned, preparation is an essential aspect of camping and hiking, regardless of the season. If we are talking about a winter camp, then it is essential that you be extra thorough in your planning. In this way, you will be able to assess your needs, expectations, and even your skill level. 

You would never really want to find yourself in a situation where the cold weather gets the best of you. In an attempt to avoid this unwanted predicament, feel free to implement the following tips on your trip. 

Wear The Proper Layers

One of the things that you need to religiously plan whenever you are solo camping during the winter is your clothing. Specifically, you need to ensure that you are properly layered. In this way, you can mitigate heat loss and reduce the effects of low temperatures. 

First, make sure that you have a tight-fitting base layer. It is an essential aspect of the trip, as it traps your body heat. Synthetic materials, such as nylon and polypropylene work best here. 

Furthermore, you need to wrap yourself with an insulating layer, as well. This layer is something that you can remove every time the temperature gets warm. Here, you can either have a light fleece, wool sweater, or down jacket as your options. They should be able to keep your body's warmth from fully dissipating. 

Meanwhile, you should have an outermost layer that serves as your primary shield against the elements--be it rain, snow, and wind. Of course, shells embedded with GoreTex linings are the ideal choice here. The GoreTex layer will ensure that the shell is resistant to the aforementioned elements. 

As a reminder, don't pick any cotton clothes for winter camping. This material isn't suitable for cold-weather conditions. It doesn't wick moisture well. At the same time, it stays wet for long periods. It will get you cold faster. Hence, you should only prefer synthetic materials that offer moisture-wicking and waterproof properties. 

5 Crucial Winter Hiking Tips That You Should Know

Be Dry At All Times

If you are camping in the winter, it is essential that you keep yourself dry at all times. Since you are alone, you don't have someone to share body heat with; this means that it is only up to you to keep yourself warm. 

Your body's thermal efficiency quickly disappears when you are wet. You see, water is a great conductor of heat. Therefore, if your clothes are wet, your body temperature quickly goes down, as well. Keep in mind that you still perspire even if it is cold. If you keep on doing vigorous activities, it is inevitable that your sweat pours from your body. This is also a means of cooling, which is something that you don't need whenever camping in the cold weather. 

Of course, you should never expose your feet to water, as well. Otherwise, it can get easily affected by the frigid temperatures. At the very least, don't wear trail runners. Instead, just clad your feet with waterproofs. You can also wear gaiters together with snowshoes, especially if you are expecting to tread on deep snow. Regular hiking boots are alright if there's not so much snow in your terrain. 

In a sense, this particular point emphasizes that you need to pack a lot of dry clothes during a solo winter camp. Overpacking is a better route here than running dry layers to wear. 

Pick The Correct Sleeping Bag

Needless to say, sleeping bags are vital to any overnight camping trip. And it is more important in a winter camp, especially if you are alone. There are specific sleeping bags that can fit specific temperatures or weather conditions. 

Specifically, you should pick sleeping bags based on their temperature rating. The temperature rating is the lowest possible temperature that the sleeping bag can keep you warm. However, always keep in mind that these ratings are placed on the assumption that you are wearing warm layers. At the same time, these ratings also included sleeping pads. 

The thing is, the temperature rating is pretty much subjective. Some people can feel cold faster than others. Still, you can still use it as a reference in choosing sleeping bags. Below are the ideal temperature ratings for specific seasons:

  • Summer: +35 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Spring and fall: +10 to +35 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Winter: +10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower

You may also consider the type of thermal insulation used on these sleeping bags. Synthetic insulation is typically made from polyester. They are cheap and efficient in keeping you warm even in wet conditions. But keep in mind that synthetic sleeping bags are difficult to transport because they are bulky and heavy. Meanwhile, down sleeping bags are pricey. But you can benefit from them, as they tend to be warmer than their synthetic counterparts. 

7 Best Winter Sleeping Bags
Types of Sleeping Bags: How To Choose The Right One For You

If you are going to buy a sleeping bag, make sure that you have a sleeping pad, as well. A sleeping pad doesn't just make you feel comfortable. They also protect you from the frigid ground.

Be Wise In Choosing A Campsite

Most campsites are pretty much empty during the winter. After all, it isn't the peak camping season. Hence, you have a lot of options where you can pitch your tent. This gives you the flexibility of picking the ideal location where you can be shielded from the majority of the elements. 

Don't pitch your tent at the bottom of mountains and hills. Cold-air troughs are forming on that part. Of course, you should also avoid the hilltops, since they can expose you to lots of winds. 

It would be better if you pick a valley or an area that is generally flat. Once you have a site, walk around it for snow compressing. The reason you need to do this is that compressed snow can provide better heat insulation than loose ones. 

Moreover, have your tent properly staked so that the wind won't be able to blow it. 

Don't Leave Your Gear Outside

You can sleep comfortably in the cold if your tent is quite stuffy. The more items inside your tent, the more warmth you can feel. Warm air doesn't escape easily, and that means that you can have a more comfortable time inside your tent. 

Your wet clothes can go inside your sleeping bag. Let them dry overnight. Hanging them outside would not dry them at all because of the cold temperatures. If you have some gadgets, such as smartphones and GPS, you should keep them close to you, as well. After all, the low temperatures can cause their batteries to drain faster. 

Urinate Strategically

Many seasoned winter campers will always highlight the importance of this advice. When you are camping in the winter, it is essential that you drink lots of water. But at the same time, make sure that you urinate whenever you feel it. 

You see, your body tends to burn calories by heating whatever you have in your bladder. The longer you keep yourself from urinating, the more heat loss you will experience. Since you are solo camping, there's no shame in bringing a dedicated bottle for your pee. In this way, you will no longer have to go out of your tent so that you can just urinate. 

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

Whenever people are winter camping, most of them look forward to the part where they can start a campfire. Of course, that's understandable, considering the fire can add coziness and warmth to your trip. It is an essential amenity for every cold weather trip, and you must learn how to make one even in the middle of the snow. 

However, keep in mind that keeping the evenings warm isn't the biggest struggle of solo winter camping. The most difficult part of the day to navigate is actually the morning, especially during the period when the sun is just about to rise. 

Here, you would need to warm your body. Hot beverages such as coffee are heaven-sent on these occasions. Now, there are lots of ways to prepare coffee during the morning. Cowboy coffee is considered to be the most popular, as it only requires hot water and ground coffee. You can watch the video below so that you can make one by yourself. 

Here's how you can make fire on snow

Regardless of your preference, it is essential that you have sources of heat when camping in the winter. Drinking hot beverages is a simple act, but it can help your body cope with the cold. Aside from that, coffee can make you feel more comfortable and calm throughout your trip. 

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