The first time can be intimidating, but soon you'll see why winter camping is the best kind.
Looking back to the first time I went winter camping, I was embarrassingly unprepared. This led to a lot of cursing, shivering, fumbling, and ultimately a bad experience. Thankfully, I pushed through and learned a lot in the process. The next time, I did more homework beforehand, which led to a much more enjoyable trip.
Preparation is the key for winter camping. If you don't have the right equipment and know-how, you will be miserable, no to mention it's a potentially dangerous situation to put yourself in to begin with.
However, once you conquer the basic items, winter camping simply can't be beat. To prove it, here are seven reasons why winter camping is the best kind.
1. No Crowds
No more battling for a parking space at the trailhead, bumping into throngs of hikers along the trail, or listening to other campers all night. Winter camping is about solitude. You get to experience beautiful National and State Parks at their best, without the competition.
2. No Bugs
Mosquitoes and black flies will drive you mad during the summer, even if you're armed against them. But winter camping has no such pests to sour your mood and drain your plasma. No need to rush in and out of your tent or feel sticky from all the DEET you just showered in.
3. Easier Food Storage
While winter camping, you don't have to be as diligent with locking up your food. Bears are hibernating, racoons are less active, and there are no nosy teenagers lurking about (see number one). Note, this is not a free pass to leave food stores scattered about your campsite. Be reasonable. But it sure is nice to not have to tie up your food between two trees. Or wake up to breakfast with this guy.
4. No Poison Ivy
The bane of many a hike is not really present in winter, which means you can do more bushwhacking without the fear of a rash popping up around your calves. And even if you stumble across a poison ivy vine while winter camping, you're very unlikely to remove enough clothes to let the oils touch your skin anyway!
5. Easy Sleeping
If you run hot like me or you have the proper gear to insulate you, winter camping offers tremendous sleeping opportunities versus summer camping. There's no humidity causing your clothes to stick to your body. There's no abnormally hot night to keep you tossing and turning. There are few other campers. All you have is the wind blowing through the treetops and the cool air to make you sleep like a baby.
6. Beautiful Views
Granted, summer and fall have their perks when it comes to scenery. But when you're winter camping, you generally have access to scenic vistas you didn't have when the leaves covered the trees. The noon sun reflects off of the sparkling snow, while the midnight moon lights up the woods so you don't need a flashlight. The stars shine brilliantly, and depending on where you are camping, you may even get to see some northern lights!
7. No Weight Watching
Hiking and camping are no time to skimp on your caloric intake, but this is doubly true while winter camping. Think of the food you eat as logs for your internal fire. If you are light on calories, you will be colder throughout the day. And if you don't eat a hearty dinner or some fat- and protein-packed snacks before bed, you will be shivering through the night. So kill two birds with one stone. Stay warmer by indulging in some good camp food!