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Pack big

Pack big

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Don’t skimp on the clothes and gear, especially as a newbie winter camper. The best way to make winter camping an enjoyable experience is to pack and dress correctly. That includes a good sleeping bag, wool socks, fleece pants, warm base layers, a puffy coat and waterproof or resistant shells. Staying dry is key when snow camping, both for comfort and safety. Bring extra clothes you can wear while hanging out in camp.

Your sleeping setup is key. While a warm sleeping bag is important, don’t forget about the sleeping pad. The quickest way to get cold is not having good insulation between you and the ground. The folks at Mountain Gear or REI can get you started with the right gear.

That being said, don’t get sucked into the gear trap. You can go winter camping without having all the state-of-the-art gear. Your summer tent can work as a winter tent, for instance. Sure, it won’t be as wind- or water-resistant but if you keep your objective small, it can work. I’ve spent several nights in the winter back country using my normal backpacking tent. A sleeping pad and bag are far more important than a tent for retaining heat.

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