12 Essential Winter Camping and Backpacking Hacks

Winter camping and backpacking have a much steeper learning curve than three season hiking and camping because you have to carry a lot more gear and learn so many new skills. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years that have improved the safety and comfort of my winter trips.

1. Dig a Pit under your Tent’s Front Vestibule

Brooks Range Mountaineering Rocket Tent
Brooks Range Mountaineering Rocket Tent

Dig a pit about 3 feet deep under the front vestibule of your winter tent so you can sit down in the front door when you take off or put on your winter boots. This also increases the amount of gear you can store under the vestibule fly.

2. Bring at Least Two Stoves in Case one Fails

Bring a foam pad to sit on when you melt snow and cook.
Bring a foam pad to sit on when you melt snow and cook.

Stoves can fail in winter. White Gas stoves can get gunked up and stop functioning if they’re not cleaned properly or use dirty fuel. Canister stoves can also fail when it gets too cold for their fuel to vaporize. You best bet is to bring multiple stoves when you go winter camping or backpacking in a group, preferably ones that share the same kind of fuel, so you have some redundancy in case a stove fails.

3. Wear Oven Bags Over Your Feet to Keep Your Socks Dry

Reynolds Oven Bags make excellent vapor barrier socks for very cold winter hiking
Reynolds Oven Bags make excellent vapor barrier socks for cold winter hiking

If you wear gaiters for winter hiking, your socks will get wet from foot and leg sweat. This is a problem when winter camping because wet socks will freeze at night unless you sleep with them in your sleeping bag. However, you can keep your socks dry if you wear oven roasting bags under your socks. Your feet will sweat less and stay warmer and your socks will stay dry because the oven bags contain all that sweat close to your skin.

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