Survival Tips When Camping in the Snow

Survival Tips When Camping in the Snow

Originally posted November 2014

Just because the weather has taken a turn for the colder doesn’t mean that you have to put the camping gear away. In fact, it just means that you have to get out even more camping gear. Last winter I talked about getting away from the bugs and crowds while winter camping; if you want to know the basics check out that post. But there are a few more things to know so that a fun outing doesn’t turn into a terrible situation.


When you head out during the nice weather of summer, you don’t need to plan quite as much. However, before heading out in the winter it is imperative that you make a good plan. This means making sure you have a camping partner, checking road conditions, determining how much snow is on the ground and bringing adequate footwear (snowshoes are often a necessity). Know all about the area where you will be going so you know how to get out if an emergency comes up.


Be sure to over pack clothing. In the summer if you step in the creek it isn’t a big deal, but in the winter it can be a death sentence if you don’t have a means to get dry. Extra wool socks, base layers, and outerwear are essential in case something bad happens.

Backup Lighting

You will always want to travel with a headlamp, it just makes getting around camp so much easier. However, in the winter, when the sun sets at 4:30 and doesn’t come up until 8:00, you will need your light so much more. Even when there is a full moon a light source is necessary, so make sure you bring your headlamp, and a backup or two.

Avalanche Gear

Depending on where you will be camping, you may end up traversing through some areas that are prone to avalanches. If you don’t have adequate avalanche training, don’t risk it. If you do, then you will know that an avalanche probe, beacon, and shovel are necessities when you will be in an avalanche prone area. Know your gear, and know how to use it.

Emergency Food and Water

Winter2When you hike in cold weather, your water bottles will freeze shut. There is no way of getting around that. In order to make sure you have accessible water, keep a small container full of water insulated by packing it in the interior of your pack. Likewise high calorie foods, like a Snickers bar, will be inedible if frozen. So keep one in the interior pocket of your coat just in case you need a quick pick-me-up and you can’t wait for the stove to boil water.

Camping in the Winter

There is a lot more to camping in the winter than in the summer. And this list of winter camping survival tips only hits on the key points. If you want to brave the elements and experience camping the way most people don’t, then read up and learn more on how to do it safely. Then get out there and enjoy the snow covered mountains. You may be cold for a weekend, but you will have pictures and memories that last forever. By the way, the next full moon is the first weekend of December, a perfect time to get out and explore.

by Scott Sery
Scott is a writer, outdoor enthusiast, beer snob, and woodworker. When he is not out exploring all of the wonders around Billings, he loves to sit down for a frosty brew at one of the many great breweries we have available to us. You can read about most of his adventures, and many of the fine brews he has sipped right here. Find out more about Scott at