Winter camping is a great time. I know that it sounds cold and miserable, but I would rather winter camp than camp in some hot desert in the middle of summer. While I am sure that there are people who will disagree with me here, I am a born and raised mountain boy. Deserts are just not my favorite place to be. I much prefer to be cold than hot.
But this is not about me; I don’t have to convince myself to go winter camping. The question is, why should YOU do it? As I mentioned in an earlier post, tips for setting up a winter camp, I may not have the best ability to persuade people to winter camp since I can’t even get my wife to go with me, however I will continue to work on her, and I will work on some new reasons with you fine folks.
Here are 7 reasons for you to give winter camping a try:
- No bugs
- No people
- They make gear for it
- It is a whole new world
- It is a new challenge
- No bears
- You get to play in the snow
I am not a fan of summertime mosquitoes. I bivy/tarp camp, and bugs are the main source of discomfort on my camping and hiking pleasure. I do bring a bug net for three-season camping, but there are always a few that are smarter and faster than me that manage to get into the bug net with me. There are times that mosquitoes have literally chased me into my shelter because they have gotten so bad at my campsite.
Winter camping, on the other hand, has none of the terrorists with wings. I get to set up my shelter and crawl into my bivy without having to worry about getting outsmarted by an insect. It is a great feeling.
Imagine camping and having the entire campsite to yourself. Well, in the winter, this is a real possibility. A lot less people are willing to give winter camping a try, for a lot of reasons, but you don’t have to be one of them.
I hike and camp for a release. I deal with people all day for a job as do all of you. Seclusion is nice every once in a while, and in winter camping it is really easy to achieve.
Snow is also a great absorber of sound. Trails and camps are quieter even if there are people there. Overall, snow is great if you really want to have a true getaway from society.
They make Gear for It
If you want an excuse to buy new gear, here you go. We all have to stay within a budget or defend why we need that new piece of gear when the old one worked fine just a month ago. Here is a great excuse for a new gear budget. Sleeping bags, clothes, stoves, water filtration, even backpacks themselves all have to pass the new four-season check.
Now, this does not mean that you HAVE to buy all new gear. My gear list stays the same all season long, minus a few pieces here and there, but this isn’t the time to get into that. If you want an excuse to buy that new tent, however, this might give you the ability.
It is a Whole New World
Those same camping trails and scenic views have a whole new feel and look to them in the winter time. It amazes me how different the landscape changes in the wintertime. Even without snow, the browns, yellows and reds just add a whole new feel to the environment.
With snow, you feel like you are on another planet. It is so cool to be at your favorite outlook and see how the snow has brought new definition to the landscape. New crevasses and depressions are highlighted and revealed that you never knew were there.
I highly suggest that you at least try some day hikes and see your old hiking trails to see what I mean. This is the number one reason that I love winter camping. The change of season just gives new life to my old camping haunts.
It is a New Challenge
Feel like you are in a camping rut? Want to try a new aspect of camping? Winter camping may be for you! There is nothing like challenging yourself to give you a renewed love of camping and hiking. All of us that camp and hike want to challenge ourselves to some degree. Winter camping adds to the challenge.
Cooking takes longer, dry wood is harder to find, you have more set up at camp, all of these are just a few things that are more challenging when you winter camp. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t fun, just a new challenge.
Side note: I don’t recommend that new hikers winter camp for their first experience. It will probably ruin you. If you have a few camping trips under your belt, and you feel confident that you know your way around camping, then I definitely think you should give this a try.
I live in grizzly country and the last four years especially, experiences have pushed me out of my camping areas and to new mountains. They are just too numerous and aggressive lately for me to want to risk it. I know there are still plenty of people that camp in these areas and that makes them braver than me. I just can’t justify the risk over the reward.
Winter camping however, means that I can now safely camp in these areas. I know that there is still a risk that a bear may not be hibernating, but this risk is a lot lower than the one that I face the other three seasons.
Winter camping just allows me to camp without looking over my shoulder at every twig snap and leaf rustle. I can now relax and enjoy the views that I gave up to not be eaten by a bear.
You get to Play in the Snow
Who doesn’t love an excuse to play in the snow? I know that we are all kids at heart here and this is a perfect excuse to go back to your childhood and make that snow angel, snowman, you name it. You can even make a snow shelter to sleep in if you so desire.
If you are sleeping on the ground, tent or otherwise, you will have to dig down into the snow anyway to make a platform for your shelter. I do this with my bivy/tarp. I actually stay quite warm in this setup because snow, when packed, is a great insulator. I cover my tarp sides with snow and snuggle into my bivy for a warm, wind free night.
So, there are 7 reasons that I love winter camping and why you should give it a try. I hope I convinced you to get out there and challenge yourself to try something new. If you already winter camp, what are some reasons that you like it? Leave them in the comment section below. Stay safe.