The winter months are about to hit hard, and it’s time to make sure we’re ready for anything. If you live up north, you know exactly what we’re talking about - the three feet of snow overnight type of thing. Even though the winter months can be brutal, you can still enjoy winter camping, as long as you prepare yourself for the worst. Many survival situations can easily be avoided by planning ahead and properly prepping.
Winter Weather Dangers
The first step in prepping for winter camping is understanding the dangers that come along with it. Winter temperatures can easily drop into the negatives depending on where you live. Hypothermia is one of the most common results of staying out in cold temperatures for too long. Even temperatures as high as 40°F can cause hypothermia from rain, sweat, or snow. Knowing how to diagnose and treat hypothermia is a basic survival skill you should know if you choose to brave the cold for winter camping.
- Paradoxical undressing (a.k.a. feeling a false hot sensation, causing you to begin peeling off layers of clothing)
- Drops in motor coordination like stumbling and mumbling
- Shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Confusion and memory loss
- Always warm the person slowly, as warming too quickly will cause shock
- Move the person to a dry area that is protected from any harsh elements (wind, drafts, rain, etc.)
- Remove any wet clothing, including hats, socks, and underwear
- Wrap them in blankets, a sleeping bag, or any other warm items
- If using a sleeping bag, stuff loose gear into the sleeping bag to reduce the volume of air inside so it will warm up faster
- Place chemical heat packs on major arteries to warm their blood (neck, armpits, and groin)
- If conscious, give them warm beverages (but avoid alcohol or caffeine)
- Use your own body temperature to warm them up
Prepping for Winter Camping
Winter camping requires a bit more preparation and thought than camping at any other time of the year. You should still keep true to your normal camping trip preparation while including the items and skills you’ll need to withstand some really cold temperatures.
Dress properly. Every prepper knows the importance of dressing for the occasion. I know, I know - carrying around extra pounds in multiple layers and coat weight when you’re already sweating is not what you had in mind. But remember, it’s harder to maintain heat once you stop moving.
Sleep warm. Any seasoned outdoorsman knows that warmth originates from within. All your sleeping bag does is keep it there. The best way to go to bed warm is to do a couple jumping jacks or push-ups - it’ll do your body some good. Make sure you pack extra clothes with you for nightfall. There’s no need to go to bed in damp clothes.
Hydrate often. We don’t always feel thirsty when it’s cold out, especially if we don’t have the hot sun beating down on us all the time. But you still need to be drinking lots of water. You can find water almost anywhere, especially with all the snow around during the winter, so you have no excuses. Mission 19: Water Purification and Storage Box will give you all you need to have access to clean drinking water.
Think fire. The most important tactic for staying warm in cold weather is fire access. Without some source of heat, you’re completely on your own. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our Mission 17: Fire Box. You can thank us later.
Eat plenty. There are no complaints here with this one. Food keeps our bodies energized and warm while giving us the perfect excuse to devour lots of hot soup and porridge. Bring along enough cooking supplies and food to keep your stomach full and happy. No idea what to bring along? Mission 24: Camp Chef Box will give you the basics to help you get your inner wilderness chef on.
Remember, there's no such thing as being overprepared. Did we miss any winter camping prep tips? We love hearing how the BattlBox crew preps for winter weather. Head to our Facebook page and leave us some stories and tips.