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Hi, I'm Georgina! A coffee-loving adventure enthusiast here to share my favorite travel tips with you! My goal is to inspire others to get out and explore this wild planet by camping, hiking, or wandering around a fun new city!

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  • Georgina D'Angelo

What to Bring Camping in Winter: 25+ Essentials

Updated: Jan 12

Yes, camping in winter can be fun!

You might get crazy looks when you tell people you're going camping in winter. But don’t worry, you’re not alone! I think winter is a great time to go camping. This helpful camping checklist is for those who plan on going car camping, tent camping, or rooftop tent camping at an established campsite in winter.

Sure, it gets really cold in winter pretty much everywhere, but it can still be very fun. For example, December, the middle of winter in the US, turns out to be a great time to visit Guadalupe National Park.

Because it gets quite chilly, few people want to go camping. Which for you means empty trails, plenty of space at your campsite, and generally no noisy neighbors.

What to Pack for Camping in Winter

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How to Stay Warm When Camping in Winter

1. Invest in a Cold Weather Sleeping Bag & Tent

With a cold weather sleeping bag, one designed specifically for temperatures down to 0°F, you will stay warm while tent camping. Your tent is important to invest in as well; a durable one will make a great difference when camping in colder weather.

The best way to get high-quality gear at an affordable price is to get it second-hand. Ask any adventurous friends you have if they're willing to part with any of their gear, or can let you borrow it.

You can also check out REI's outlet gear if you're in the United States, or become a member and browse their used gear that's majorly discounted. Don't forget to check out your local Buy Nothing group as well; you never know if a neighbor has some great gear they need to find a home for.

2. Wear Multiple Layers

Wearing warm pajamas is essential to staying warm when camping in winter. It usually gets the coldest in the middle of the night through the early morning.

Wear long pants and t-shirt and bring an extra layer into your tent. You can put them in your sleeping bag with you, and if you need an extra layer in the middle of the night, you'll have one handy. Plus, it will be warm from your body heat.

Having multiple layers is best for winter camping. It can be hard to judge how cold you'll get at night, so having different layers handy makes it easy to warm yourself up (or cool yourself down if you overestimate how cold you'll get).

3. Always Bring Extra Blankets

Always bring extra blankets when you go camping. In most places, the temperature drops significantly at night so having extra layers handy will give you peace of mind.

You can layer a blanket inside your sleeping bag, or leave it at the foot of your tent and pull it over yourself if it gets cold. Or just keep them in the car just in case!

You can also line your tent with blankets for insulation if you have things to hang them up with (like inside poles or hooks).

4. Insulated Sleeping Pads Are a Must

If you're tent camping, you are going to need a great sleeping pad. Not only will you want this for comfort, but you will want it for warmth.

The worst feeling when camping in the winter is being frozen from underneath. Don't let this happen and invest in an insulated sleeping pad. If underneath you is warm, you'll stay much warmer overall.

5. Gloves Will Come in Handy

You won't be a goof if you're wearing gloves around your campsite. You'll be a smart camper. Keeping your hands warm will help you stay comfortable and safe while performing camping duties like cooking breakfast, getting the tent set up, etc.

A pair of lightweight thermal gloves will be a game-changer on your next winter camping trip. You won't have to worry about frozen fingers as you're trying to make a cup of coffee in the morning.

6. Enjoy a Campfire

Check with your campground to see if you're allowed to start campfires. If yes, bring your own stock of firewood if it's allowed (sometimes only native wood is allowed), or stop at a hardware store on your way.

What better way to stay warm than sitting by the fire on a chilly evening during a winter camping trip? Don't forget the s'mores!

7. Cook Hot Meals

You might not feel like cooking a whole meal on a camp stove or over the fire, but having a hot meal will make the winter weather feel so much nicer. Some easy hote camping meals are soup, nachos with veggie meat, pasta, and grilled cheese.

I recently brought freeze-dried meals on a camping trip to Grand Teton National Park and they were a game-changer. When it's cold out, make cooking simple and buy some of these easy-to-make camping meals!

How to Pack for Camping in Winter

While camping in the desert is a great option for winter camping, it still gets really cold at night. So be prepared, stay warm, and you’ll enjoy your winter camping trip immensely! Let’s get to the details now; what to bring camping in winter.

Please keep in mind, this is for winter camping where it stays above 20°F. Plan for freezing weather, and then bring more warmth just to be safe. Make sure you print our free camping checklist available below!


You want to pack layers when camping in winter. They will be your best friend. While it will most likely be "cold" all day and night, it can range from bitter cold to chilly and everywhere in between.

You don't want to only pack thick heavy clothes and have no other option to wear. If you get sweaty during winter camping, your sweat will freeze or get very cold, in turn making you very cold. So bring layers you can add to; you still want to be able to stay cool when camping in winter.

camping in winter

Blankets and More Blankets

Your next best friend, after warm, comfy layers will be blankets! Having an extra supply on hand will come in very handy. You might need an extra layer in your sleeping bag. Or maybe you want to sit around the campfire, but you still need some extra warmth. Grab a down blanket, wrap yourself up like a burrito, and let campfire relaxing commence.

These also come in handy when waking up early for a hike or sunrise. It's so much easier to get out of bed and get going when you're warmer. Wrap a blanket around yourself and get cooking breakfast while staying warm.

Read Also: Camping with Dogs

Check Campsite Rules on Fires

Rules vary depending on location so take a look at your campsite's rules on fires before you head out. If campfires are allowed, you'll definitely want to prepare for them. Will there be a firepit? Will you need to find firewood? A great alternative to a classic pit fire is a portable firepit that can go everywhere with you!

Knowing you will always have a firepit with you is awesome, especially if you plan on camping often. Whether it's to warm up, cook, make s'mores, or tell ghost stories, having a campfire is always fun (when it is allowed!!!).

camping in winter

Packing Essentials for Camping in Winter

  • Stove

  • Pan

  • Cooking Utensils

  • Spices

  • Food + Snacks

  • Lighter or Matches

  • Propane

  • Utensils

  • Dishes

  • Biodegradable Soap

  • Collapsible Sink

  • Scrubber

  • Trash Bags

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Sleeping Pad (for tent campers)

  • Pillow

  • Tent (for tent campers)

  • Water Bottle

  • Drinking Water

  • Warm Thermal PJs

  • Coat or Thick Jacket

  • Long Pants

  • Thick Socks

  • Long Sleeve Shirts

  • Sweatshirt or Sweater

  • Beanie

  • Warm Boots

  • Gloves

  • Headlamp

  • Lantern

  • Batteries

  • Down Blankets

  • Sunglasses

  • Hand + Feet Warmers

  • Portable Fire Pit (check campsite rules)

  • String Lights (battery operated)

So now you’re prepared for your winter adventure, and you know how to pack for camping! If anyone gives you a hard time for planning an incredible camping trip during the winter, tell them they don’t know what they’re missing. So many people hate on winter, and yes it's cold, but nature is beautiful and deserves admiration in every season.

What to Bring Camping in Winter

Camping in winter is honestly really fun if you prepare correctly. If you have the right clothes and the best sleeping gear, then you’ll be set and you’ll enjoy it!

While some places get really dreary and sad in winter, deserts and mountains shine during this time of year. It usually warms up during the day, even in winter, which makes for great hiking. Also, cold weather generally means smaller crowds at campsites!

Happy Camper TIP!

The best tip for staying warm and happy during winter camping? Stuff your clothes for the next day in your sleeping bag with you.

For starters, it provides more warmth in your sleeping bag, but it also heats your clothes up so they're nice and toasty when you put them on in the cold morning.

It's also a good idea to become a pro at changing in a sleeping bag; it's so much nicer than changing in the cold air.

What to Bring Camping - Winter Camping Checklist

So if you want to go camping in winter, but you’re not sure how to prepare, we've got you covered! Enjoy the crowd-free campgrounds and hiking trails and bundle up to enjoy the outdoors. You won’t regret it.

Download and print our free camping checklist so you will be well-prepared for your next outdoor winter adventure. You'll also receive a bullet-point list version if you'd like to copy and paste into your phone notes for on-the-go access.

Have you ever been winter camping? Let us know below!

You might like to read next...

Guide to Camping in Winter | Alpacka My Bags Pinterest Cover


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Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 


I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.


I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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