For many, camping is an activity that is reserved for the warmer months, where your biggest concern is how to avoid bug bites and sunburns. However, if you’re willing to brave the snow and ice, the winter season can be a great time to get out and truly appreciate the beauty of nature. While your choice of tent, tent heater, sleeping bag, and other camping gear will have an impact on your comfort level when the temperatures drop, the secret to a great winter camping trip is to pack appropriate cold weather camping clothes.
Are you new to adventuring in the cold? Today, I’m going to break down everything you need to know about selecting the best winter camping clothes to get out and enjoy your local winter wonderland.
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I am a huge fan of the opportunity to spend time outdoors, regardless of the weather. This includes embracing the winter weather to visit our local parks, campgrounds, and hiking trails.
However, there are some concerns related to the freezing temperatures that should be taken seriously!
Careful preparation is very important to reduce your risk of cold-weather injury or illness including frostbite and hypothermia. If you’re considering heading out, read this guide over carefully to ensure that you are choosing the best cold weather camping clothes to keep you both safe and comfortable.
Table of Contents
Layers, Layers, Layers
I can’t stress enough the importance of layering during the colder temperatures. This will give you the flexibility to remove a layer if you’re active to avoid overheating and getting sweaty while adding the layers back on when needed for additional warmth.
The first layer, or base layer, should be made of moisture-wicking materials. This will quickly remove any sweat from your body throughout the day. The second layer, or mid-layer, is an insulating layer to help you feel warm and toasty regardless of the temperatures outdoors. Finally, the top layer is a waterproof layer to protect you from the elements.
When shopping for your cold weather camping clothes, don’t cheap out! It is better to invest a little and get high-quality gear that will stand up to the elements. If you’re working with a limited budget, consider exploring second-hand camping gear options for quality gear with a much lower price tag.
Address Wet Clothing Immediately
If your clothing does get wet at any point in the day, take the time to address that right away. Wet clothing will leave you feeling cold and uncomfortable It can also increase your risks of suffering from exposure to the elements. The process of changing your clothing may leave you feeling chilly short-term, however, it will serve you much better long-term.
Cotton t-shirts and other clothing are low-cost and readily available, making them a staple in most wardrobes. However, during the colder months, it is better to steer clear. Unlike wool and synthetic fibers, cotton takes a LONG time to dry, leaving you cold and damp. When selecting the best cold weather camping clothes, cotton is a hard no!
This is especially important when selecting the best winter hiking clothes as you don’t have the same opportunity to duck into a tent or camper and change as you would camping.
Pay Attention to Your Hands and Feet
Your extremities are at a higher risk of frostbite, meaning that they should be addressed with a little extra care. This means keeping your hands and feet warm and covered at every possible opportunity. If you are heading out to explore, always pack extra socks and gloves so that you can change them if they get wet at any point.
Invest in a high-quality pair of wool or synthetic socks that will keep your feet dry while also providing insulation. You want to choose socks that are thick enough to be warm, but not too thick for your winter hiking boots.
In addition to choosing the right boots, make sure that you are wearing a pair of waterproofed, insulated boots during the winter months.
The concept of layers can also apply to your hands. For the inner layer, a pair of lightweight fleece gloves will offer warmth and insulation while the outer layer should provide a windproof and waterproof shell.
Don’t Forget Your Hat
Anytime the temperatures drop, a hat should be a top priority. You will lose a considerable amount of heat through the top of your head if it’s left uncovered, making this an easy yet effective way of keeping your body temperature up. This will also help to keep your ears protected, which are also at a high risk of frostbite.
Note: The myth that most of your body heat is lost through your head has been debunked, however, studies show that the average person still experiences approximately 10% of their total surface heat loss from that area.
Cover Your Face
The final high-risk part of the body to consider when discussing frostbite risks is the face. Your nose and cheeks are highly susceptible to cold temperatures. Not only will a neck gaiter help with keeping your face protected, but most gaiters will also extend high enough to offer additional protection for your ears.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen and Sunglasses
During the winter months, it’s easy to forget about the dangers of the sun’s UV rays as we often associate sunshine with warmth. However, the sun’s rays are not only present as they would be in the summertime, but they are also reflecting off the surface of the snow creating risks of conditions like snow blindness. Always wear some form of eye protection, such as sunglasses or goggles with UV protection, and reapply your sunscreen regularly on any exposed skin.
Use Hand and Toe Warmers
There are disposable hand and toe warmer packets available at most sports stores, outdoor shops, and big-box stores. They use a chemical process to create warmth that can be used in your gloves or boots. Direct skin contact can cause burns, so it’s best to place your warmers in your boots, outside of your socks, or between the glove layers.
If you prefer a greener, more sustainable option, there are also reusable hand warmer options that can be charged using USB from your portable power systems or solar panels. This is one of the best investments that I personally have made when it comes to camping gear for cold weather!
Winter Clothes for Camping Dogs
If you follow the Alternatively Speaking social media accounts, then you know that I love travelling with our pups. Like us, our dogs can feel the cold temperatures if we’re going to be outside for an extended time. They are also susceptible to conditions like snow blindness.
Just as you invest in gear for your own winter adventures, there are some important gear options to consider for your pup. Examples of winter hiking and camping gear for dogs include dog booties, winter jackets, and UV-resistant dog goggles. The gear needed will vary from dog to dog, depending on their breed, age, and level of cold tolerance.
Don’t let the old temperatures keep you locked indoors! Pack up your warm camping clothes and winter camping gear and head out to enjoy all that this time of year has to offer.
Do you have any go-to cold weather camping clothes or accessories? Share your favourites in the comments!