Let’s be honest, camping in the winter isn’t for everyone. And that is exactly what is so joyous about it. Campsites are closed, fair-weather holidaymakers are snuggled up inside their centrally heated homes … and those of us who know the true wonders of being outdoors at this time of year have all the prime spots to ourselves. If you are one of the hardy bushcraft fans who isn’t put off by a spot of cold weather, this post is for you.
Equipment is king
The absolute key to wild camping in the winter is having the right gear. No one wants a miserable night spent wondering if you are about to lose your toes to frostbite. Take only the essentials and choose your kit wisely.
1. Small tent
This isn’t an occasion for your full family tent with the porch and a separate living area. Make sure you only go as big as you need so that your body heat will be enough to warm the space and give you a good night’s sleep, which means opting for a small tent as far as possible.
2. Other sleeping equipment
A good sleeping bag is a must-have for winter wild camping. Choose one that is both warm and lightweight – you burn extra calories when it is cold, so you don’t want to be carrying any unnecessary weight. A sleeping mat is a good idea too to raise you off the cold ground.
3. Good socks
Another vital piece of equipment? Socks. Remember the frost-bitten toes? Heavyweight merino wool socks are the way to go in the wintertime. Bring an extra pair for sleeping so that you have some that are dry and warm for the night.
4. Cooking equipment
You are going to want a hot meal, especially if you are foraging or fishing and want to cook your catch. Choose light, folding outdoor cooking equipment that won’t weigh you down or take up too much space in your pack.
5. Water bottle
Even in the cold, it is important to stay well-hydrated while exploring the great outdoors. Make sure you have a water bottle with a decent capacity.
6. Carrying equipment
It won’t matter how carefully you have chosen the rest of your gear if you don’t have the right bag to carry it all in. Choose a pack that fits everything you need but no more – you don’t want to be tempted into adding extra weight unnecessarily. A waterproof bag or two is useful to keep your valuables (and those spare socks) dry in wet weather.