As with other times of the year, when you pick your campsite be sure to look for a location that can provide shelter from the elements. This can help keep your tent warmer and drier, while minimizing noise too. Avoid setting up camp directly at the bottom of the hill, as that is where cold air tends to collect and keep an eye on the conditions above to ensure you aren’t in the path of potential avalanches. These are all variables that play a role in whether or not you get a good night’s sleep, which is key to your enjoyment of any camping trip.
Before pitching your tent, tamp down the snow at the campsite to provide a more stable base underneath. This makes it easier to not only set up your shelter, but it allows you to move about more securely when inside the tent as well. Loose snow also tends to melt much more quickly, which can cause the tent floor, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag to become damp.
If you wore snowshoes and cross-country skis on your hike to camp, use them to smooth out the ground more efficiently. Alternatively, you can also use the snow to build a wall to serve as extra protection from the wind as well.
Quick Tip: Bring extra food on your winter camping trips. In cold temperatures your body burns more calories in an effort to stay warm, and you’ll want a steady supply of snacks and meals to serve as fuel.
During the winter months you don’t have to worry quite so much about where you place your campfire, although finding dry wood and kindling can be a challenge. Wood buried under the snow can still be used to make a fire, although getting one started can take a bit of extra time and patience. Bringing a windproof lighter, dry kindling (Fat Wood is great), and fire starting materials (Vaseline soaked cotton balls work nicely!) from home can help make the process easier.
It is important that you make sure your campsite is as safe and comfortable as possible. The shorter days and longer nights of winter mean you’ll be spending more time inside your tent and sleeping bag, so you’ll want the experience to be a pleasant one. Bring a book, a deck of cards, or some games to help pass the time. Chances are, you’ll be happy you did.