If you love backpacking, the change of seasons doesn’t mean you have to stop when the temps get colder. Here are some tips from Outward Bound educator, Mountain Shop staffer, and backcountry winter camping enthusiast, Ella Dean.
#1 FootwearSnow is cold, we know you know that, but it’s surprising how quickly you can get cold when you are standing on it. Consider more of a mountaineering boot and something that’s waterproof to keep feet dry (and happy) during your trip.
#2 WaterFinding water in the winter can be challenging because many things will be frozen. A powerful stove is key to help you melt snow and stock up on enough water for your adventures. To boil it, start with a little bit of water mixed in with the snow you are melting so that the snow can melt properly, otherwise it may burn in your pot! If it’s not coming to a boil, make sure to treat the water before you drink it.
#3 FuelYou’ll need more fuel than you might think if you’re melting snow for water so bring extra! Isobutane fuel works better in colder temperatures.
#4 Build a Base CampBuilding a comfortable base camp is key to an enjoyable experience winter camping. You can construct a kitchen area with snow seats topped with sleeping pads and cover it with a tarp tent. If you are out with a larger group, bringing 2 stoves will free you up to both cook and melt snow for water at the same time!
#5 TentWinter weather usually means windy weather! When setting up your tent, use the snow to anchor it and dig down about two feet in the shape of the base of the tent, to block wind.
#6 Staying WarmPut a hot water bottle into your sleeping bag to stay warm (make sure the cap is on tight). It is also important to make sure you are not wet. Dry out slightly damp clothes by putting them in the bottom of your sleeping bag overnight. Bring two sleeping pads - a closed cell foam and another - foam or inflatable (with a high r-value if possible). Puffy pants and puffy booties are also a great addition and can pack down relatively small.
#7 Dont ForgetDont forget sunscreen (especially underneath your nose where the snow is reflecting) and eye protection. It will be a lot brighter with the reflecting sun than it is in the summer time.