Word to the wise: don’t go camping in the winter without the proper cold-weather camping gear.
Having the right gear will mean the difference between an uncomfortably cold and unpleasant trip, and an adventure that you’ll warmly remember for years to come.
Keep reading for a list of 21 cold weather camping gear essentials that you won’t want to forget before your next winter excursion!
1. Four-Season Tent
If there’s one piece of equipment you absolutely don’t want to leave your home without, it’s a four-season camping tent. And no, a three-season tent simply won’t do.
A camping tent is your home away from home when you’re exploring the wilderness. If you’re in a remote area, your tent will provide much-needed (and appreciated) relief and protection from the harsh elements.
The GEERTOP four-season backpacking tent is designed to keep wearers dry and protected from strong winds, torrential rains, and winter snow. The double-layer tent is made from high-quality material that’s waterproof, anti-tear, lightweight, and provides UV protection. It comfortably fits two people and can be set up by one person in just minutes.
2. Tent Tarp
Securing a waterproof tent tarp underneath your camping tent will offer you another barrier of protection against the cold ground below. It’s also a great product to have on hand for outdoor excursions in general.
3. Mummy Sleeping Bag
Sleep as snug as a bug in a rug without any disturbance from the wintry weather outside with a mummy sleeping bag. The Coleman North Rim Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag is designed for use in temperatures as low as 0°F! Its quilted construction and insulated foot box support heat retention, and its semi-sculpted hood allows you to seal in heat from the top down.
4. Sleeping Bag Liner
If you’re traveling in extra-cold temperatures and need an extra layer of protection, opt for a sleeping bag liner. You surely won’t regret bringing it along!
The Sea to Summit Reactor Insulated Sleeping Bag Liner adds up to 32°F of warmth and does so at a minimal weight. It also packs down to just 9″ by 5″ in its own stuff sack, so you can carry it together with your other belongings. The added pros of this product are that it actually extends the lifespan of your sleeping bag, and you can use it at hotels or hostels as a hygienic alternative.
5. Insulated Sleeping Pad
Add yet another layer of warmth and comfort to your makeshift bed with an insulated sleeping pad. Although it might seem like you’ve got it covered with the above-listed items, you can never be too prepared for a camping trip in the cold weather and/or at high summits–especially if a winter storm unexpectedly hits.
With a product like the POWERLIX Ultralight Sleeping Pad, you’ll be both cushioned and protected from the frigid, hard ground. The self-inflating pad is designed with hexagon air cells to support the body’s pressure points and is 100% waterproof. When it’s time to go, the pad rolls up small and compact and comes with a storage bag and two repair kits.
6. Waterproof Backpack
Pack your belongings in an organized fashion without worrying about them getting wet or ruined. A waterproof backpack that’s designed to store all your essentials is worth the investment.
The Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack is the perfect solution for a cold-weather trip. With this type of bag, you’re able to remove your backpack, place it in the snow, and take a break without your items getting wet in the process. If this backpack were to accidentally drop into the water, it’s designed to float, keeping your items protected throughout.
7. Heavyweight Down Jacket
A high-quality heavyweight down jacket is one piece of clothing that you can’t leave home without!
For men, the Anorak Men’s Warm Parka Jacket is sure to do the trick! Made from 100% polyester, this regular-fit heavyweight cotton down is packed with a thickened, quilted filling to keep you warm. Its high-density windproof and water-resistant fabric will shield you from the elements, and its rib-knit storm cuffs and adjustable drawstring will keep the cold weather out.
For women, there’s the Orolay Women’s Thickened Down Jacket to keep you warm all day long. This 100% polyester jacket is made with a 90% duck down and 10% feather filling and has a density that’s 60% higher than competitor products. Its shell is windproof and waterproof, and it’s also incredibly roomy, with six large pockets to store belongings on the go.
Both jackets are conveniently machine-washable!
8. Snow Pants
Consider the heavyweight down jacket and snow pants as your official cold-weather ensemble! Bringing one or more selections of these high-quality clothing items will keep you warm, dry, and pleasantly comfortable–or as comfortable as you can be in the cold–throughout many of your outdoor excursions.
For men, consider the Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants. These 100% polyester pants are available in 27 colors and are made with 85 grams ThermaTech Insulation to keep you warm at temperatures as low as -20°F to 35°F. Despite the warmth, these pants are lightweight and low bulk! They also feature 600 denier ballistic nylon on the ankle and scuff and hem guards.
There are plenty of great options out there for women as well, including the Arctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pants. Available in 37 colors, these 100% polyester pants are also made with the same insulative properties as the above-mentioned men’s pants, as well as the same ankle reinforcement and scuff and hem guards. The pants are also made with boot gaiters that have grippers to lock in heat and keep moisture out.
And like the down jackets, both pants are also conveniently machine-washable!
9. Long Johns
The trick to getting through a cold-weather camping trip–and getting through the winter in general–is to layer clothing. Sometimes, you only need one extra layer and other times, you might need three or more. Fortunately, the ability to layer pieces allows you to add or remove bulk in a pinch.
The first layer you’ll need, aside from standard undergarments, is long johns. And for a set of great quality long johns, you’ll want to look at the long johns thermal underwear from Thermajohn, for men, and Thermajane, for women.
Both sets are mare designed with an ultra-soft fleece lining that’ll keep you feeling cozy throughout the day. The four-way-stretch fabric also allows you freedom of movement without chafing or bunching up when you move. The breathable fabric effectively wicks away moisture and perspiration and is great for both layering and wearing to bed as a pajama.
10. Winter Wear Accessories
For all the areas of your body that aren’t covered by jacks and pants alone, you’ll need to add on a few cold-weather accessories. Accessories, like a set of sturdy gloves, a warm hat and scarf, sturdy ear muffs, and insulated socks, are just as essential to keep you warm when camping in the winter as your down jacket and snow pants.
11. Ski Boots
An added layer of protection to shield yourself from the frigid cold weather–and one that’ll surely come in handy–is a durable pair of ski boots.
The Columbia Men’s Bugaboot III Snow Boot is comfortable, breathable, and, perhaps most importantly, waterproof. Made from 100% leather, the boots reach mid-calf and provide 200 grams of much-welcomed insulation. Perfect for wet, cold, and snowy weather, the shoes are indoor-safe with a non-marking rubber that provides guaranteed, constant traction.
The Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II Snow Boot offers many of the same features with added benefits. Available in 14 styles, these 100% leather and textile lace-up boots feature 200 grams of insulation to protect your feet from -25°F to 32°F. The boots have a leather-reinforced toe and heels and a soft faux fur collar for added flair.
12. Ski Goggles
Even in inclement weather, it’s important to be able to find your way around. To do so, another one of the must-have cold-weather camping gear items you’ll need is a pair of functional ski goggles, like the OutdoorMaster OTG Ski Goggles.
These goggles are made with a soft, thermoplastic polyurethane frame and a mirrored lens with a 100% U400-protection coating. Wear the goggles seamlessly over your glasses and enjoy a fog-free experience. The goggles have an extra-long elastic strap and are conveniently helmet-compatible. Suitable for both teens and adults, simply pack the goggles in their own carrying pouch when not in use.
13. Backcountry Snowshoes
You can’t embark on a journey in the cold weather without a pair of snowshoes for the occasion. With this wearable, you’ll be able to venture around with the confidence of knowing that you’ll maintain your footing, particularly in snowy conditions.
Gpeng Snowshoes, available in unisex sizing for men, women, and youth up to 250 lbs., are lightweight with adjustable double-ratchet bindings that adhere to most footwear. A strong metal frame provides a stable platform throughout use. To boot, these shoes come with a pair of snowshoeing poles and a carrying bag.
14. Tent Heater
When you’re camping in the cold, you’ll need a tent heater to keep you warm throughout the night. For this, you can choose from an electric heater or a propane heater, depending on your preference and what’s most convenient to carry.
The Lasko Oscillating Ceramic Designer Series Space Heater is just 16″ tall and weighs only 6 lbs., which makes it easy to bring anywhere. Set your temperature from 60° F to 85° F, and program an auto-off timer for one to seven hours. An overheat protection prevents overheating. (For this product to work, you’ll need to plug it into a portable power source.)
If a propane heater is more convenient, opt for the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy. This product is more specifically designed for tents and campsites and is capable of heating up to 225 square feet of space. It runs off of a 1 lb. cylinder of propane and includes an accidental tip-over safety shutoff, a swivel regulator and fold-down handle, and an optional carbon monoxide detector.
15. Portable Fire Pit
In addition to having a heat source inside your tent, you’ll also need a heat source outside your tent to protect your base from potential predators, especially if you’re “roughing it” for a few days. For this, you can take the easier route and bring along a portable fire pit.
The Radiate XL Outdoor Portable Campfire comes in a pack of one, two, and four and is a great alternative to the traditional fire pit. Instead of setting up a campfire and collecting dry wood and moss, simply light the 8″ “fire pit” and watch it burn for up to five hours. It’s made of recycled soy wax and paper briquettes, yielding minimal smoke. Simply pop it on a tabletop and enjoy it for hours!
16. Stove and Fuel
Spending a few days in the Great Outdoors? You’ll need an apparatus that’ll allow you to make meals at your campsite. For this, consider the Gas One GS-3400P Propane or Butane Stove.
Though you’ll also need to bring along a few pots and pans, you won’t need to ignite a campfire to get going with dinner. This stove runs on a single eight-ounce butane cartridge or a 16.4-ounce propane cylinder. It features automatic electric ignition, eliminating the need for lighters or matches. It also has built-in pressure sensors and gas flow cutoff for safety.
17. Stove Platform
Prop your stove and fuel, or your portable campfire, atop the Camp Chef Folding Side Shelf Set! This durable shelf set is made from heavy-duty steel and doubles as a lid when it’s folded. When it’s not being used for cooking purposes, it can serve as a convenient tabletop for meal prep, journaling, drawing, and just about anything else!
18. Satellite Communicator
When you’re planning for an adventure of any sort, safety should be one of the first considerations that come to mind. When you’re adventuring in cold weather, there are even more concerns to be wary of, like avalanches and unexpectedly strong storms.
The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is a two-way, rugged, GPS location-aware, and Iridium satellite-based communicator. Users can download the free ZOLEO app on their smartphone to maintain a connection when located outside of cell phone service. You can also use the communicator to send an SOS alert, and GPS coordinates to a 24/7 emergency monitoring service.
19. First-Aid Kit
Be prepared for bumps, bruises, and falls with a handy first-aid kit! A first-aid kit is another item that you won’t want to be without, especially in the midst of an emergency situation. The Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit is stocked with 120 medical-grade items, and it even includes a 32-piece mini first-aid kit.
Wondering what else you can bring along to make your cold-weather excursion as seamless as possible? Look no further than the THERMOS Stainless King Vacuum-Insulated Beverage Bottle.
Whether your goal is to keep your coffee hot or, in the case of warm weather, to keep your water cool, the Thermos will maintain the temperature of your beverage for a full 24 hours! It’s extremely durable, sweat-proof, and large enough to hold 40 ounces! Chances are, you’ll continue to use this Thermos long after your trip.
21. Trekking Poles
The need to bring along trekking poles will depend on the conditions that you’re traveling in. If you’re headed into snowy weather and mountainous terrain, then you should definitely grab a pair of Cascade Mountain Tech Lightweight Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Trekking Poles.
Available at a competitive price point, these trekking poles are less likely to snap from carrying heavy weight, whether you’re in the absolute heat or the freezing cold. Rubber grip tops are comfortable to hold during use, and you can adjust the poles from 26″ to 54″ to maintain a comfortable stride. Conveniently store these trekking poles in your bag or backpack.
Last but certainly not least is a handy-dandy shovel. Again, bringing along a shovel will depend on the weather conditions that you’re traveling to; however, a shovel may provide more benefits aside from simply moving snow.
The RHINO USA Folding Survival Shovel w/ Pick extends to a full 23″, but folds to just 9″ long by 6″ wide when it’s fully compacted. The shovel is made of 2 lbs. of powder-coated carbon steel and features a tough pickaxe and sharp, rugged saw teeth Use it for digging dirt, sand, mud, snow, and more.
Wrapping Up the Essential Best Cold-Weather Camping Gear
Comfort, safety, and efficiency are three of the most important details to consider when you’re planning an outdoor camping trip in the cold weather. When you prepare to put together your list of cold-weather camping gear, consider the 21 functional products mentioned in this list. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be disappointed if you’re prepped with all these items out in the wilderness!
Interested in learning about the basics of winter camping? Check out our post on Winter Camping to get the lowdown!