Dear Intrepid Campers,
It might seem foolhardy, unless you live in our kind climate, but the Gourmet Girls think that with some preparedness you can enjoy cold weather camping. We’re serious. Some people do love winter camping, even in the snow! And for good reason. There are less crowds, less insects, and the bears are hibernating!
If you’ve ever read Bob Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods (and I highly recommend the read), then attempting the Appalachian Trail in winter is obviously not a walk in the park. Actually he and his hiking buddy, Stephen Katz, started the trek in Georgia in early March, but a few weeks into their trip they encountered a snow storm that nearly stranded them.
The Girl Scout motto “Be prepared” is not lost on us. It’s been in the Girl Scout Handbook since 1947, and it still pertains today. In the spirit of that motto, we’ve compiled a few camping tips for your winter camping adventures to help keep you safe (and warm!).
- Check the weather report before you leave home. Know what the high and low temperatures are going to be.
- Choose your campsite carefully. Unlike summertime when you’re looking for shade, in winter the morning sun can be a blessing, so take note of where the sun will rise and take advantage of those early rays.
- Bring plenty of firewood. Start a fire as soon as you arrive at your campsite and before doing any kind of set-up. Oh, and store your matches in a metal container. Also, don’t forget to bring along extra fuel for your stove.
- Dress properly. Wool socks (leave the cotton ones at home), waterproof boots, thermal underwear, and a warm jacket are essential. Layering is a good idea because it helps regulate your body temperature. A jacket with a zip out liner can do double duty. Don’t forget to pack an extra hat and pair of gloves. Frostbite is no fun and losing a glove on the trail could spell disaster.
- Bring the right sleeping bag and pad. Denise and I both love our Exped Mega Mat 10 sleeping pads. Ideal for car campers, they are mega big and mega warm. The 4 inches of padding gives amazing insulation with an R-value of 9.5. For extra warmth you can use a yoga mat underneath your sleeping page to help isolate you from the ground.
- Use lithium batteries in your electronics as opposed to alkaline. Lithium batteries perform better in cold weather.
- Store all water containers upside down. Keeping the spouts of your containers facing down will prevent them from freezing up.
- Cook hearty meals. Our Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook has many substantial recipes for warming up your innards on cold days. Try our Genoa-Style Minestrone with Pesto, Campfire Coq au Vin, or Indian Spiced Chicken.
- Once you’ve made it through the night, there’s nothing like a morning campfire and cup of coffee to warm you up. Our Cowboy Coffee recipe may be the easiest and best way to make coffee during the winter months.
- Don’t forget the entertainment. Daylight hours are short, and having a good book to read while staying cozy in your sleeping bag is always a welcome diversion.
Most of all, have fun and explore! Winter offers a different landscape to enjoy, most often a beautiful one, even when it snows!
Gail, Lindsey and Denise.
The Gourmet Girls on Fire!