Winter Camping: The Gear You’ll Need to Bring and How to Survive.

Evan Pearl

Winter: the time of year where many bundle up and stay inside to keep warm, but there are those few adventurists who journey outside the walls of comfort and make their way outside into the cold, wet, and unforgiving nature of the winter. Many would love to continue camping throughout the year, but snow will stop many. I am going to give you some tips on what to wear, what to bring, and how to safely camp in the winter.

Cabin Camping

Now when most camp in the winter they’ll stay in a cabin. I highly recommend a cabin if it is a option. Cabins are the best option because they offer the best protection from the weather and will usually have a fireplace to help keep you warm and dry( I’ve never seen a cabin without one ). Cabin fireplaces are also great because it can give you a chance to strip wet clothes or gear and dry it out inside, which is an opportunity one isn’t presented with too much outside in the weather.

 I recommend having a hatchet on hand; it is lighter than an ax, and can cut small trees and branches that are still dry. You can sometimes find dry twigs on the ground like one usually does any other time of the year, but most wood is wet and the ground is hard and doesn’t offer much. So being able to cut your own wood is important. Many struggle with making fires, so I suggest that you practice building them beforehand. A tip with cabin fireplaces:  before you light it look under to make sure the flue is open and not closed. A closed flue can result in the smoke not going through the chimney and causing it to build up in the cabin, smoking you out. So always check the flue before lighting.


Now, the gear you’ll need will be pretty much the same but just a few more items for non-cabin camping. The list will tell you all the gear you’ll need, and its purpose.

Gear/Clothes to Wear



  • Winter Hat


I hope all know what a hat is for, but for those who may not it is to keep your head warm but more importantly it keeps our body heat in. Heat rises, and leaves through your head. So wearing a heat is key to staying warm. Always bring an extra hat, you never know what can happen to your other, so be safe rather than sorry.


  • Ski or Face Mask


Sometimes when one is camping and hiking temperatures can be near or below freezing with killer windchills. So having a mask to keep your face warm is always nice to have. A scarf is always a traditional substitute for a face mask.



  • Under Armour


An Under Armour shirt is a good idea to wear, from my personal experience. It is tight and close to your body helping with body heat regulation keeping you fairly warm.


  • Long Sleeve


Layers are important when it comes to your torso. A long sleeve shirt, sweater or flannel should suffice. I recommend your second layer being something that you can tuck in. Tucking in shirts is another great way to keep in body heat.


  • Sweatshirt


A sweatshirt or a sweater, really just a light jacket that you can wear comfortably over your current clothes and under your winter jacket. It helps optimize warmth, and if the weather is being generous and gives you some warm weather, you can strip your winter coat to not overheat but safely stay warm.


  • Winter Coat


Your winter coat is very important. I do not recommend down jackets; they can tear easily, are very light, don’t optimize heat storing and can catch on fire easily, also when wet they do not work.  Where something that is insulated and fireproof. Fireproof because you do not want to risk a stray ember from your fire landing on you and lighting you on fire.  

  • Gloves

Gloves are down right one of the most important pieces of clothing you can have with you. Protecting them from below freezing temperatures and frostbite winds, gloves can be a real game changer in your camping experience and simply your safety too. Always pack an extra pair of gloves. Losing a glove happens more often than you may think, so always be prepared for that.


  • Long Johns/Under Armour

Long Johns or Under Armour pants are the best underwear to wear in the winter. They cover all of your legs, optimize body heat regulation and are fun to wear in my opinion, especially long johns. Bring an extra pair of these too, you never know what can happen.  


  •  Snow Pants/Hiking Pants

Snow Pants are very important in keeping you dry and warm from the snow and winchills. Also make sure that your snowpants are fireproof; you don’t want a stray ember to burn a hole through them or simply just light them on fire. Having a light pair of hiking pants to wear under can be helpful if the weather is below freezing, and is also nice to have when the weather is warmer and  you want to take your snow pants off, but don’t want to walk around in your long johns.




  • Socks


When it comes to socks wool socks are a very good choice, water resistant and they keep heat in. They’re durable too. Now like most vermonters, you’ll probably have a pair of Darn Tough socks, I recommend those too. You’ll want to bring an extra pair of socks in case something has to your original pair.


  • Boots


I recommend winter hiking boots. They’re are similar to summer versions hiking boots, but are single layer insulated; meaning no removable lining inside the boot. Is insulated for the cold, and a means of lacing that allows a secure fit lowering risk of ankle and foot injury.

These are the basics of what you’ll need to wear to safely camp in the winter. My next article will be on the gear that one should bring and use while winter camping, consisting of backpacks, sleeping bags, electrical devices and tools and even hammocks. Get out there and have fun, and hiker to hiker; if you bring anything in-bring it back out.. Cabin hiking too. Don’t leave trash or a mess, help keep it clean and usable for other tired hikers.