What Cold Weather Camping Gear Do I Need?

Camping, Camping Gear, Packing & Organizing -

What Cold Weather Camping Gear Do I Need?

One of the great things about camping is that it can be done in any season, including winter. However, before heading out into the cold, it's important to make sure you have the proper gear, or your camping memories will be miserable. Depending on the type of cold weather camping you’re doing, this includes everything from a warm sleeping bag to proper clothing and footwear and even certain foods and beverages. Here's a basic guide of the must-have items for cold weather camping.

Warm Clothing

Wearing the right clothing is essential for staying warm in cold weather. But you can’t bring just jeans, cotton shirts and a basic jacket. Think in terms of layers – you can always remove layers if you get too warm. Key pieces of warm clothing include:

  • Fleece pants
  • Puffy coat to add extra insulation
  • Waterproof jacket to keep you dry
  • Waterproof pants
  • Thermal long sleeve shirts
  • Long johns
  • Sweatshirt

 Be sure to choose fabrics that are breathable and moisture-wicking to avoid getting too sweaty.


Wearing the right footwear is also important for staying warm. If you'll be hiking or doing other activities, choose shoes or boots that are insulated and waterproof. In colder temperatures, it's also a good idea to wear two pairs of socks and always bring an extra pair – plan for one pair of socks for each day of camping, and a special pair to wear at night.

Other Cold Weather Clothing Accessories

  • Headgear – lightweight hat for during the day and a warmer beanie for nighttime.
  • Neck and Face Gaiter – this will give you extra protection on your face in the wind and cold.
  • Gloves – both waterproof snow gloves and liner gloves made of fleece, wool, or synthetic material.
  • Sunglasses – if you’re camping or hiking in the snow, these will help protect your eyes from the reflection off the bright snow surface.
  • Wool socks – make sure they reach higher up on the calf to keep your legs warm too.
  • Hot water bottle – fill it with hot water and place it in your sleeping bag to help keep you warm overnight.
  • Hand warmers and toe warmers – while these aren’t essential, they definitely help take the chill off of a cold day!

Cold Weather Tent

Your tent is your home away from home while cold weather camping and acts as your shelter from the elements. A four-season tent is designed to withstand heavy snow and high winds. Don’t skimp on this piece of camping gear.

It's important to choose a tent that is appropriate for the number of people who will be using it. Also include a tarp that can be used for a variety of purposes, including providing extra shelter or creating a dry area for pitching your tent.

Sleeping Bag

A good sleeping bag is essential for staying warm at night. You'll want one that is rated for cold weather and has a comfortable temperature range. For added warmth you could also consider packing a sleeping bag liner or insulated sleeping pad.

Other Cold Weather Camping Accessories

  • Snow Shovel – A snow shovel is essential for digging out your tent or car if you get buried in a snow storm.
  • First Aid Kit – A first aid kit is always a good idea, no matter where you're camping. Be sure to pack supplies for common injuries like cuts and scrapes, as well as more serious items like splints and bandages.
  • Flashlight – A flashlight is an essential piece of camping gear, regardless of the time of year. Choose one that is bright and has a long battery life.
  • Knife – A knife is another must-have item for any camper. It can be used for a variety of purposes, from preparing food to cutting rope or wood.
  • Compass & Compass – These are handy tools for finding your way if you get lost. They’re also helpful for planning hikes and other activities.
  • Stove – A portable stove is a necessity for cooking in the outdoors. For cold weather, choose one that is reliable, can boil water quickly, and for truly frigid temperatures, runs on liquid fuel or has a remote canister than can be inverted.

Outdoor Kitchen

Cold weather camping requires more gear to stay warm and prepared. If you’re going to a campsite that you can drive to or that is just a short distance away from where you park, the Out-in-About Box™ is a simple and compacted way to store all your camping gear and can also act as your outdoor kitchen.

If you have access to a campfire, it can be a great way to stay warm and cook your food. Just be sure to build it in a safe location and put it out before going to bed. Depending on where you’ll be camping, a portable fire pit may also be a great piece of camping gear to bring.

What to Eat and Drink to Stay Warm

When camping in cold weather, it's important to eat and drink the right foods to help you stay warm. Here are some tips to help.

  • Drink plenty of fluids – Staying hydrated is important for overall health, but it's especially crucial in cold weather. When you're active, your body needs more water to stay warm. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, even if you're not thirsty.
  • Hot drinks – Drinking hot coffee or tea can help you stay warm from the inside out. Just be sure to limit your caffeine intake, as it can cause dehydration. Hot cocoa and apple cider packets are also good options to bring along. Don’t forget a thermos, perfect for keeping beverages hot for long periods of time.
  • Eat high-energy foods – Foods that are high in fat and calories will help give you energy, which in term will help you stay warm. Good options include nuts, seeds, peanut butter, and dried fruit.
  • Soups and stews – Eating hot soups or stews is a great way to warm up after a day out in the cold. They're also packed with nutrients that will help keep your energy levels up. These can often be prepared ahead of time so all you have to do is heat them up at your campsite. 

If you’re preparing for a cold weather camping trip, this list can help. But sometimes, it’s just plain hard to remember all the things to bring. Download the Essential Camping Checklist as you start packing for your next trip so can stop overthinking and start enjoying your next outdoor adventure.

essential camping checklist