There’s nothing like heading out on a cold weather camping trip while the leaves are turning red and gold or snow is covering the ground. One of the best parts of overlanding is getting to experience the outdoors from the comfort of your vehicle. But when the temperatures start to drop, making your camping trip comfortable is a little bit more challenging!
But it’s not impossible. You can go on a road trip and camp year-round in your rig, and be comfortable while doing it. We’ve rounded up all of our favorite cold weather camping necessities to help you have the best fall and winter camping trips possible.
From layers to tires, there are many ways to optimize your winter camping trips. Read on to learn about some of our favorite cold weather camping essentials.
Cold Weather Camping Gear Essentials
High Quality Shovel
Having a high quality shovel in your rig during the winter is key if you get stuck in the snow. Especially if the ground is frozen, you’re going to struggle to dig your car out with a cheap hardware store shovel.
Our favorite shovel is the Krazy Beaver shovel. It features teeth that cut through ice and are perfect for the snowy or muddy conditions often found during the fall and winter.
Winter tires are one of the first things we suggest for camping and overlanding in the colder months. Especially if you live somewhere with snow and ice, it’s important to have traction tires. In warmer locations, winter tires are not as important, but make sure to consider the weather when choosing your tires. If it rains a lot, you’ll want something with good stopping power.
If you drive off road in the winter while it’s snowy or icy, having four wheel drive and good tires is your number one defense from getting stuck. Winter tires are often designed with rubber that stays soft even when it’s cold. All season tires are designed with stiffer rubber that is more durable in the long run.
Some all terrain tires have a M+S (mud and snow) rating. This looks like a larger tread pattern to give traction in a variety of conditions. However, if you’re driving on packed snow or slick streets, this won’t help much. But if you’re driving on unconsolidated snow, it will be useful. Look for the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PSF) symbol if you want an all-terrain tire that will function well in the winter. Or just buy true winter tires.
Roof Top Tent
If you’ve ever tried to set up a tent in the snow, you know why being off the ground is much nicer in the colder months. Of course, a roof top tent is a joy to use all year round, but it’s especially nice to skip the tent in the winter.
Our roof top tent is the Colorado 4×4 Nimbus, a lightweight hardshell tent. We love the large windows and vents, and the plush memory foam mattress. It’s perfect for two plus a dog (or kid). It has lots of gear storage area (a must in cold seasons) and space to mount a roof rack.
Water Tank with Pressure
During mud season, it’s incredibly convenient to have high pressure water on demand waiting for after the drive. Spray off all that mud before it hardens with the WaterPort Weekender. You’ll be so much happier not having to stop at the carwash on your way home, or looking at all that dried mud all week long.
The 8 gallon tank is made out of food grade plastic. Use it for cleaning up dishes after cooking, rinsing gear, drinking water, or even showering (but probably not in the cold months). It’s easy to pressurize using the included fill valve and your garden hose.
Of course, having a fire is a sure-fire way to add warmth to your camping trip. Make sure to bring enough firewood for morning and evening fires if it’s going to be freezing temperatures, you’re not going to want to get out of bed without the promise of a soon to be roaring fire.
Also, fall and winter are not great times to find firewood out in the woods, because it is often wet and snowy. If it’s been wet, or bad weather is in the forecast, definitely make sure to bring wood from home to ensure dry wood that catches quickly.
Wearable Sleeping Bag
A warm sleeping bag is key for any cold weather camping trip, but have you heard of wearable sleeping bags? Some options from Selk’bag and Poler bring winter camping to another level of cozy. It’s like a blanket that you never have to take off.
While designed for sleeping, most wearable sleeping bags aren’t warm enough to sleep in on their own during the winter. However, it makes a great layer for sleeping, or is perfect for hanging out while camping during colder months. Throw it on over your clothes and enjoy sitting around in the cold with no issues, while anyone who doesn’t have a wearable sleeping bag shivers.
Nothing feels better than a cup of something warm on a cold evening. Whether you’re into tea, hot chocolate, warm apple cider, or something stronger, you’ll sleep better after warming yourself up from the inside. Just don’t make the mistake I did once and spill tea all over your sleeping bag right before bed! We suggest enjoying warm beverages outdoors by your campsite if you’re clumsy like me or worried about spilling (note to self).
Propane heaters like Mr. Buddy heaters and similar are designed for use indoors. That make them perfect for use in your rooftop tent, van, or standard tent! The small size is perfect for tight spaces. Look for propane heaters with an indoor or indoor/outdoor designation.
The Mr. Buddy heater includes an oxygen depletion sensor and accidental tip-over shut off systems. It also runs off of a 1lb green propane canister, making it easy to fuel while camping. However, you should still not run any propane heaters while sleeping. Turn it on when you’re going to sleep and upon waking up, but leave it off during the night.
Enjoy your winter camping trips!
Wherever your winter adventures take you, you’ll be comfortable and safe with these tips and tricks for cold weather camping. When you’re off the grid, it’s that much harder to stay warm and comfortable. But with these winter camping essentials, you’ll be much more excited for the next chilly adventure.