First Winter Camping Experience: Tips and Advice

I am far from being an expert in camping, certainly, and even less in winter camping. In the summer, camping is an easy way to save money when traveling. In Quebec or elsewhere, all you have to do is pitch your tent to have a comfortable home in no time. Camping is also a simple way to extend hikes over several days. And what better than a night in nature, a fire and a guitar to reconnect with the elements. But what about the winter side of this activity? We tried it for the first time and we give you our impressions, tips and advice.

In fact, I had already practiced “winter” camping at the beginning of last spring. It was more like spring hiking since there was rain throughout the day. So we had to stop at a shelter to dry our clothes before going to pitch our tent for the night. Nothing was glorious since it had rained, then snowed, during the night, and the $35 tent from Wal-Mart hadn’t liked it. So, for a new winter camping experience, and based on my past failures, I’m trying the experience again this time with my girlfriend, and this, much better prepared.

The favorite place                        

Finding ourselves in Saguenay on a weekend, a multitude of places were available to us to serve as an experimental laboratory. We wanted a place, obviously, in nature, but not too remote in case our adventure went wrong. We therefore left a little before nightfall with the apprehension of seeing the sunset there, but above all to enable us to find a campsite before it got dark. Our choice stopped on a small piece of land stripped of trees on the edge of a lake. And that’s where our adventure began, or rather our constant search for warmth.

Fire, fire, pretty fire!

Who says camping, says fire! And, in winter, the latter is even more necessary and pleasant to enjoy outside your tent. So I set to work and began to find dry wood; twigs, sticks and tree bark. Creating a fire in winter is not easy, because it literally ends up on snow. We must therefore create a first layer that will be between the snow and our fire. We can use rocks or other elements that do not burn. And if none is available, we must use wood. Such was our case. So I created a first layer on the snow and fed the fire continuously with salvaged wood and newspaper that we had thought to bring. The word continuously is not an understatement, as the fire tends to go out very quickly with the snow under it. It is therefore necessary to be very careful with it and to have plenty of wood in reserve to take advantage of the heat.

Choose your spot

During this time, my girlfriend began to organize the ground where the tent will then be set up. It was necessary to create a flat and uniform ground to make sure not to roll during the night and get stuck on one side of the tent. For this, a shovel is need. Another alternative to the tent that we considered is that of the tomb. You literally have to dig a hole in the snow to be able to slip in and sleep there during the night. We know people who have tried it and it seems that we sleep very well in it and are warm.

A hot meal or drink

When the tent was set up, we had the best time to enjoy something hot . Armed with a burner and headlamps, we prepared hot chocolate to then relax around the fire. It was one of the best moments, especially, that at this point we had taken off our boots and swapped them for our winter slippers which keep the feet perfectly warm and which are surprisingly waterproof.

Sleep well in winter

As soon as it was no longer possible to keep the fire alive, we returned to the tent to bundle up in our sleeping bags. The quality of these is necessary for a successful winter camping experience. You must have a sleep bag that is made for cold temperatures, because otherwise it is really impossible to enjoy your night. Even if we stay dressed with our winter clothes, we can’t get the equivalent of a good winter sleeping bag . In addition, to sleep well, do not forget to change into dry clothes, humidity is really the worst enemy of the winter camper. Put your laundry in a dry bag to keep them away from moisture. Another trick that is still effective for warming up is to put on abottle of boiling water in the sleeping bag. This allows us to warm up the extremities of our body as needed.

Hit or miss?

Well settled, we fell asleep quickly but, if that had not been the case, we had brought board games . This is not to be forgotten! All in all, the night went well. We woke up a few times during the night, but slept long enough to mop up those sporadic awakenings. The next morning, the alarm clock was very early. We got up at the same time as the sun to take down our tent, very satisfied with our first winter camping experience and already more confident for another adventure.

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