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6 Tips to Elevate Your Cold-Weather Camping Experience

When you think of camping, do you dream of warm summer nights around the campfire with family and friends? As temperatures drop during the fall and winter months, though, the idea of camping may not seem ideal. But it can be an incredible experience — especially when you have the right gear to weather the cold front. So, we’ve asked Kodiak Athlete and glacier camping extraordinaire, Sam Cohen, for six tips that can help make cold-weather camping an exciting activity for everyone — even if that means stretching out of your comfort zone. Check ‘em out!

1. Water

When camping in the winter, making water is tedious, but pays huge dividends. Having a large trash bag to shovel snow into (be sure to keep a shovel handy) and a lightweight pot to store water is clutch. Pro tip: heat water up in the evening, store in small water bottles, and keep it near your sleeping bag for warmth. This also keeps your water from freezing in the middle of the night. Then when you wake up the next morning you have the essentials for hot coffee, breakfast, and hydration throughout the day. 


2. Layering

Staying warm is clearly an important element of camping in the cold, so be sure to layer up. I like to run a merino base layer, top, and bottom, and a mid-layer style hoodie with a large hood so I can protect myself from the sun. It can get surprisingly hot during the day when the sun hits the snow, so sunscreen is key. I personally use Dermatone. From there, I add a micro puffy and a large down parka for hanging around camp and a hard-shell jacket for moving around the mountains.

3. Entertainment

Getting stuck in a storm sounds miserable without the proper entertainment. Cards and dice games are ideal for keeping your mind occupied and don't take up too much space in your kit. I also recommend bringing books! Getting lost in a good book can help take you away from the winter world for a little while. 

4. Shelter

You can’t go wrong packing a double wall tent. You’ll end up adding a bit of weight to your kit but it’ll help decrease the amount of frost to your tent each morning. Wanting to get out of your sleeping bag can be tough when it’s freezing cold outside and when you are frosted over it’s just that much worse. 


5. Sleeping Pads

Pack two of them! It can get even colder than you imagined when camping in the snow. I bring a foam pad (Z-pad) to lay underneath my blow-up pad because it provides a bit more insulation between you and the snow. Some folks will even run two foam pads to help insulate. Having an insulated blow-up pad is a great move too. 

6. Warm Food

I like to have an easy and basic meal plan to avoid dishes, messes, and chores in general. Everything is a bit harder when camping in the cold and snow. Kodiak instant Oatmeal Packets are perfect for a quick and clean breakfast! Also, the Chocolate Oatmeal Packets are so good for a warm dessert after a long, cold day.

These are just a few tips, among many, to help make your next cold-weather camping experience as comfy as possible. But most importantly, have safe and be fun!

About the Author

Sam Cohen has chased the feeling of nervous excitement you get at the top of a big line for his entire life. He stepped into his first pair of ski boots at age two and has lived for the sport ever since. As a pro skier and mountaineer, he travels around the world chasing peaks and exploring new slopes — often spending several nights in the cold winter elements. For Sam, skiing isn't just about the steep lines and deep snow; it's also about earning your turns through some good 'ole fashioned Type 1 fun.

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