Winter Camping 101: Introduction for Beginners

By Camper Christina

Winter is upon us and while most people are hibernating and spending time indoors, watching Netflix, and avoiding the outdoors, many others are counting the days until the snow covers the ground and they can enjoy winter in all its glory.

Winter camping in Ontario is growing in popularity every single year.  This year, the interest in winter camping is larger than ever before, and we want to make sure you will be fully prepared for it, if it’s something you are interested in trying out. There are so many things to learn when camping in the winter, and even seasoned summer campers will tell you, it’s a very different experience. 

Now, your first question may be something like, “Why on earth would I want to go camping in the winter?”

Winter camping has a lot of bonuses and many of those bonuses are things that you just aren’t able to do in the summer. As we mentioned in our first article Activities to do while winter camping, there are a huge variety of activities that many people truly enjoy during the winter that aren’t possible, or, as much fun in other seasons. 

A few of the main ones are:

  • Ice skating.
  • Cross country skiing.
  • Snow shoeing.
  • Tobogganing.
  • Fat biking.  
  • Playing hockey.
  • Building a snow person

There are many other wonderful things that winter offers campers that summer does not.  A few notable ones are:

  • There are far less people camping in the winter.
  • The campgrounds are more accessible and it’s easier to book a campsite.
  •  It is generally very quiet during the winter, no matter where you go.
  • You have the opportunity to see more wildlife based on the three points above.
  • People tend to be more friendly and helpful than in other seasons.
  • You have no issues keeping your drinks and food cold.
  • There are pretty much no bugs in winter.

There are a lot of things that you need to consider before you head out on a winter camping trip for the very first time.  If you decide to cold tent on your trip, you will not have a heat source in your tent, and will need to stay warm using the proper gear and clothing.  If you decide to hot tent, you may need to rent, borrow, buy or make a tent and provide a heat source for inside of it to keep you comfortable and warm.  If you decide to immerse yourself into the activity slowly, and with caution, which is recommended, you might find yourself renting a Ranger’s cabin or yurt, to start with.  This would give you more of an idea of what would be involved while winter camping without jumping straight into it. This might also possibly give you a chance to talk with other winter campers in the campground you are camping in, and see their setups to give you a better idea of what others are doing out there.  Most people will be happy to share their information with you, as everyone was once new at winter camping and truly understand what you are going through.

Regardless of how you choose to begin, it is best to start simple. Pick a weekend that isn’t too cold and do a test run in your backyard, or somewhere you can easily return indoors to warm up, in case you have any issues.  This is the very best way to test out your sleeping bag and bedding, your clothing and gear, before actually heading out into more of a real life situation.  Once you have completed this step and feel a bit more confident, knowing you will be able to stay warm and enjoy your winter experience, move on to the next article in the series, Winter Camping – Hot Tent vs Cold Tent to find out more.

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