4 Winter Backpacking & Camping Preparation Tips

Winter Hiking Photo courtesy of Flickr

While winter isn’t the first season most people think of when it comes to camping and backpacking, there are many reasons why people experience the outdoors in the brisk winter air. Whether you’re hunting and ice fishing or backpacking and camping, the winter offers a sense of calm and peace that other seasons just can’t.  If you prepare well, spending time outdoors in the winter can be just as, or even more comfortable, than warm weather activities!  Here are KestrelMeters.com’s best tips for winter living:


Layer, layer, layer
You’ve heard it before, but that’s because it is one of the most important points for winter survival and comfortability.  Wearing an inner under layer, an insulation layer, and an outer “shell” layer of clothing is crucial when trying to stay warm, and being able to take layers on and off is very important during alternating periods of activity and rest – wetness is your worst enemy in the winter, so managing your perspiration and not sweating too much can be very important in maintaining a good temperature.
Bring liquid water
In the winter, one may feel that a lot drinking water isn’t necessary with the abundance of fresh snow on the ground.  In reality, eating snow uses a great amount of your body’s heat and energy to heat to proper temperatures, so real drinking water is still necessary.  Keep it close to your body while you’re sleeping or hiking to keep it from freezing.
It is also important to bring a source of fire – ideally several options (both lighter & matches) along with you so that you can create a fire for warmth, food, and even to melt the snow into a proper drinking source.  Lighters and matches can be stuffed into the little unused pockets of your backpack or coats, and be a major lifesaver in the end.
Meal Prep
In addition to your typical rations, bring an extra day or two’s worth of food – always be prepared for anything.  While many people go with the simplicity of cold food, warm foods that can be heated over a portable stove (using the aforementioned lighter & matches), can bring some enjoyment and warmth to your trip.  Beyond extra rations, bring compact, high-energy, high-nutrition foods, such as snack bars and nutritious energy bars in order to keep the pack light and make it easy to eat on the go.
Technology today can be a winter outdoorsman’s best friend.  From Kestrel’s precision weather monitoring meters to satellite GPS, electronics can afford the modern outdoorsman some great luxuries that were not even available less than a decade ago.  The most important element in winter electronic gear is dependability – a sturdy high-powered flashlight with fresh batteries is infinitely more useful than a fancy GPS system that froze over due to the cold, which is why sometimes simplicity is the best policy.  All of Kestrel’s meters have been tried and true in the most extreme conditions on earth, all the way to the extreme freezing altitudes of Mt. Everest, but not the same can be said for all outdoor electronics manufacturers.
Manual backups (remember maps and compasses?) are a must, especially in winter conditions that can deteriorate very quickly, and always take advantage of your condition monitoring to prepare if the weather goes south.

This by no means is a comprehensive guide to winter survival – there are many in depth guides that can be found online, such as REI’s “Ten Essentials for the Outdoors” that can lend a more complete list.  These are tips that you should keep in mind as you prepare and choose your loadout for this winter’s outdoor adventures!  What are some things that you’ve found in your experience that help you in winter survival?  Give us your tips below!

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