BlogDecember 2023

How to Plan a Camping Trip in Winter

How to Plan a Camping Trip in Winter

By Jeff Bogle

Dec 27, 2023

There isn’t a “bad” time of year for planning a camping trip. Here’s how to plan a camping trip to stay safe, warm, and happy in the winter.

There isn’t a “bad” time of year to take or start planning a camping trip, but some of the seasons do require extra special knowledge of how to plan a camping trip to stay safe, warm, and happy. This is especially true when camping alone as a woman. Whether you are planning a camping road trip with friends in an RV or are trying to figure out exactly how to plan a family camping trip this winter, we have you covered! From the gear you need to planning a camping trip checklist, you will be ready to bundle up and head out…west, to Yosemite, or in your own backyard with your kids.

Even if you live in a warm, dry place, winter will often still bring cold temperatures at night. That’s one of the main concerns when it comes to planning a camping trip. But don’t let frigid fears scare you from planning a camping trip with friends during the winter months. You can stay warm while camping and get the quality sleep you need to have fun during the day, be that on the water while boating or kayaking, hiking, or just hanging out playing games around the campfire.


Dress in Layers

Even if you don’t care about clothes and fashion in your everyday life, when you plan a camping trip in the winter months, your first thoughts should come in layers! The right clothes, from base to mid layers to puffer jackets, plus the right hats, gloves, and socks to protect your most delicate and at-risk extremities, are critical. You need to dress in layers to give you greater control over regulating your body temperature as you do outdoor winter activities during the day. You don’t want to sweat, because that moisture will cool and make you shiver. Layers of clothing allow you to stay warm in the morning but then peel them away as the sun shines down on you and the activity you are enjoying, be that hiking, snowshoeing, or even building a fire, causes your body to naturally warm up.

Part of knowing how to plan a camping trip is knowing that if you do work up a sweat, you must brave the cold and get out of those wet layers asap, and quickly swap out for dry clothes from head to toe.


Sleep Well with Multiple Bags and Pads

One of the things to consider in planning a camping trip is the temperature at night. You may want to pack two sleeping bags per person and extra pads to keep your body off the cold ground when the temperatures dip to their lowest point. Staying insulated means staying safe from the elements, and that means you know how to plan a camping trip in every season. To stay extra cozy at night, pair a winter sleeping bag with a featherweight quilt, and take advantage of modern materials that have made sleeping bags and quilts lighter and more efficient than ever.


Warm Your Core

Some experienced campers will eschew the traditional advice of keeping warm water bottles near their fingers and toes. But instead, place a hot water bottle near your center point. That’s right, the groin region is where you will get the most benefit from the intense heat. As blood travels throughout your body, your furthest extremities will be warmed up faster thanks to this expert tip. Of course, make sure those water bottles are sealed tight to avoid, um, many ounces of hot discomfort, fellas!


Vent That Tent!

We know what you might be thinking, “You want me to let air IN my tent when it’s so cold outside?” It seems counterintuitive, but when you open up the tent’s vents, you won’t wake up encased in frost. And then won’t have frost melting inside and making your tent moist and you, your family, and your friends very miserable. So yes, let in some air to release the vapors from your breath and avoid a soggy mess the next day!


Exercise Your Right To Eat and Drink

The human body is a marvel in many ways, one of which will help to keep you warm! Planning a camping trip correctly means having A LOT of food and drinks available day and night. This is because your body will burn calories to stay toasty. So, toast will help feed your body and let it do its job! Snack a lot, eat a lot, and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated too. And at night, opt for high-carb foods to keep you sustained (and warmer) for longer.


Get Extra Heat Help

Hand warmers, toe warmers, boot warmers all have one thing in common: the word “warmers”! Make use of these modern extras when planning a camping trip in the colder months. You’ll be thankful for the affordable extra heat help!


Where to Plan a Camping Trip?

Finally, there’s the small matter of where to camp. When it comes to how to plan a camping trip, whether that’s planning a kayak camping trip or figuring out how to plan a family camping trip that makes everyone happy, the destination is important! Planning a camping trip to Yosemite is going to be different from, say, searching for, “How to plan a cross-country camping trip” or “how to plan a camping trip near me.” To have success outside this winter, find a perfect campsite that has everything you need and want, from water that doesn’t freeze if you want to kayak or a lake that does if you plan to go ice fishing, and a playground that’s open all year round for the kids to work up a sweat (and then immediately remove their base layers)!


Here are some great places to go camping and fishing for you to consider as you plan your next camping trip, and 7 things you will want to have with you when planning a family camping trip.

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion