The Winter Camping Gear Checklist for Beginners

Snow is falling gently from the sky as you tromp through the woods, your camping gear laded on your back. You catch a glimpse of the flickering light in the distance that marks your campsite and quickens your pace. You set everything up in record time and head out to explore; winter camping can be so much fun! If you’re new to winter camping, it is important to be prepared. That’s why I’m excited to share the Winter Camping Gear Checklist with you, especially if you’re new to this experience. Whether it’s your first winter escapade or you’re a seasoned camper, having the right gear will make all the difference.

Here’s The Winter Camping Gear Checklist:

1) First, you will Need A Tent

A tent is essential for staying dry and warm during your winter camping trip. The walls of the tent will protect you from the cold wind. Look for a four-season tent that can handle wind speeds up to 50 miles per hour. These tents are designed to handle extreme weather conditions, so they’re extra sturdy in bad weather.

The poles are thicker and built with stronger materials that won’t snap in high winds. Tents with two or more vestibules will give you room to store all your gear without the need to set up an additional tent, and they’ll keep your gear dry and protected from the wind. Always choose a four-season tent if you’re heading out during the winter season or a three-season tent if you’re camping during the warmer months.

2) Winter Tent Accessories

Winter camping requires a few extra items to keep you warm overnight. If you’re camping in sub-zero weather, you’ll need an insulated sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. The sleeping pad will help insulate your body from the cold ground, and because winter tents are also designed for extreme conditions, they usually come with built-in insulation. You can also cover your tent with a tarpaulin to block the wind that could cut through your tent walls.

3) Heated Gear

If you’re planning to do some winter hiking and/or camping, you should invest in heated clothing, like heated socks and gloves, for example. These will not only keep you warm when your body is at rest, but they will also keep you warm and comfortable while you’re walking around. You will also need a way to recharge the batteries in your heated gear, so bringing along a solar charging system and extra batteries would be the best plan.

4) Snowshoes and Ice Axe


Don’t forget to pack your snowshoes in case you encounter a snowstorm or simply walk through an area with a lot of snow on the ground, even if you are planning on camping in areas that are free of deep snow, being ready for mother nature mood swings is always a good idea. Another great item to pack with you if you are hiking in icy conditions is an ice axe. An ice axe helps you to stop your fall in case that you slip on icy terrain. 

5) Food and Water

With more clothing layers packed into your backpack, you’ll need extra food that provides high-energy snacks to keep you warm while you’re out in the cold all day long. Foods like chocolate bars, nuts, gummy bears(sugar), and granola bars can be beneficial. If there’s no drinking water around, don’t forget to pack bottled water, so you stay hydrated during your hike.

6) Navigation


A word of warning about winter camping: be prepared for the weather. If you’re going to be out in bad weather conditions, don’t forget a map, compass and a GPS device. You can stay safe even during a natural disaster by knowing where you are at all times. Make sure to bring along a good pair of sunglasses, too, so your eyes don’t hurt from staring into the glare of the snow!

7) Sun Protection

The sun can be just as strong during the winter months, so sunscreen won’t be enough to protect you from long-term damage. Pack along with a wide-brimmed hat that will cover your face and neck, too, because these areas are especially sensitive to sunburn. You may need sunglasses even on cloudy days since snow reflects the light from the sun.

8) First-Aid Supplies

When you’re camping out in winter weather conditions, taking care of little scrapes and cuts can be difficult. However, if you have a small injury that could become a major issue, don’t forget to pack bandages, antibiotic ointment and pain relievers along with any prescription drugs you might need. You’ll also want to make sure your first aid kit has tweezers for removing splinters or anything else.

9) Extra Warm Clothes

Since cold weather can cause your body temperatures to drop even when you’re indoors at home, it’s important to always bring extra clothes whenever you go winter camping. Pack a rain shell. This piece of clothing will provide the perfect warmth and protection against rain, snow and wind.

10) Tool Kit

survival tool kit

Since winter camping often takes place in wooded areas filled with dead branches, you won’t be surprised to learn that a good tool kit is another essential winter camping item on your emergency supply list. You’ll need tools like an axe for removing larger pieces of wood from trees, as well as a saw for cutting smaller twigs into kindling. Don’t forget about rope either! Rope can provide extra support when climbing or pulling heavy items, bringing at least 25 feet of strong cordage is a good idea.

11) Entertainment and Emergency Gear

For entertainment purposes, pack playing cards and/or board games and some books on tape. So, you have something to do during the couple of hours of downtime you have between hiking and setting up camp. Bring along an emergency whistle, too, just in case you get lost or need help getting back to your campsite. You can also pack some hand warmers or chemical heat packs to keep your fingers from going numb while you’re trying to play games or doing anything else.

12) Extra Supplies Allow Room For Flexibility

If you think you might need a few extra supplies, remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry out there in the wilderness. You’ll want a backpack rain cover for protecting your backpack from moisture, as well as a camping chair, so you have something comfortable to sit on during long trips.

13) Emergency Shelter

A lightweight emergency shelter is a smart winter camping item for your backpack, especially if you’re heading out on an overnight stay. In addition, a tarp can help keep your sleeping bag warm and dry during the night so that you won’t wake up shivering in the middle of the night.

14) Lip Balm

Chapped lips can be a problem while you’re trying to enjoy your winter camping trip. So, remember to pack some lip balm with SPF protection.

15) Blanket Or Sleeping Bag

Even if you live in a temperate area where outdoor temperatures don’t usually drop below freezing, winter camping can often feel colder than usual. So, it is smart to pack an emergency blanket with your usual set-up for overnight trips. This extra layer(if needed) will help insulate your body and make sure you stay warm all night long!

The Winter Camping Gear Checklist1


  • If you have a tent or other shelter, always sleep with your feet pointed towards the entrance for maximum warmth.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water before going to bed. This will help keep your muscles from cramping during the night.
  • For menstruating women, make sure you bring extra supplies in case of accidents or leakage. Doing this before heading out on your trip can save you time hunting around for supplies.
  • If you’re bringing along a dog to keep warm with, be sure that it is wearing dry clothes and does have his fur wet. Wet hair will quickly cool off and make the animal feel cold.
  • If possible, stick to main trails as these paths are more likely to lead you back home during an emergency.
  • Keep a map and compass handy if you need to navigate yourself back towards civilization.
  • Be extremely careful around any open flames or heat sources, as starting a forest fire is never a good idea! 

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting about camping and enjoying the outdoors, here are some additional posts to check out:


Winter camping can be a great way to enjoy some outdoor time during the cold winter months. However, it’s important to remember just how dangerous and potentially life-threatening these adventures can become without proper preparation and equipment. So, remember: Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned explorer, staying safe and prepared is paramount. So, take these lessons with you as you head out into the wild, and may your winter camping experiences always be filled with wonder and warmth. Be Safe and Have fun.!

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