18 Cold-Weather Winter Camping Essentials

Summer might be over, but camping season doesn’t have to be! With the right winter camping essentials (gear and attitude), there’s no reason you can’t camp in colder seasons. Sure, there’s something special about long sunlit days and falling asleep to the sound of crickets and campfires, but nature doesn’t close up shop for the winter. No matter where you live, there’s always something outdoors to explore and experience.

Both Swedes and the Norwegians lay claim to the snappy one-liner—”There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”—and regardless of its origin, it offers some wisdom that applies to camping too. As long as you’re prepared for the elements, camping in the fall and winter months can be an adventure.

Here are 18 of the best cold-weather/winter camping gear essentials that will help you opt outside even when the snow flies.

1. Flytop Tent

For true cold-weather camping (think freezing temps and a chance of snow), you’ll need an extended cold weather winter camping season tent. Most tents that are designed for summer camping have a surplus of mesh panels to allow for adequate ventilation. And while ventilation is important in winter camping too (to prevent a build-up of condensation), you also need a tent that retains heat and blocks the wind. This model from Flytop is a 3-4 season tent that’s designed with winter weather in mind. With sealed waterproof seams, sturdy material, and a snow skirt, it’s a great option for the colder months. (Then again, for the ultimate in winter camping comfort, you could always use an RV instead!)

2. Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest Ground Pad

When the ground is cold (or frozen!), it’s important to have adequate insulation underneath you while you sleep. Place this Therm-a-Rest closed-cell foam pad between the ground and a self-inflating sleeping pad. (Otherwise, the ground will cool the air inside the self-inflating sleeping pad.)

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Camping and Backpacking Sleeping Pad
  • Advanced Warmth: Patent-pending ThermaCapture surface boosts warmth by reflecting radiant heat back to your body.
  • Light & Durable: Virtually indestructible and light enough to carry anywhere.
  • Unique Design: Soft peaks and heat-trapping valleys provide exceptional comfort.
  • Reg: 20" x 72" / Large: 25" x 75" / Small: 20" x 48"
  • R-Value: 2.8

3. Teton Sports LEEF Sleeping Bag

During the fall and winter, a standard sleeping bag might not cut it. Before you head outdoors for the weekend, check your sleeping bag’s temperature rating. A sleeping bag’s temperature rating indicates the temperature at which the average camper can expect to stay warm. Select a bag that has a rating at least 10 degrees colder than the lowest temp you expect to experience.This mummy-style sleeping bag from Teton Sports is rated to 0 degrees.

TETON Sports LEEF Lightweight Adult Mummy Sleeping Bag; Great for Hiking, Backpacking and Camping; Free Compression Sack; Black , Adult - 87" x 34" x 22"
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND WARM: Tired of your feet getting cold? This is the sleeping bag for you; Designed with added insulation in the footbox; Exceptionally warm and lightweight for backpacking
  • COMFORTABLE: Three-piece hood pulls in tightly around your face to keep your whole head warm; Foot box provides more room for your feet; Full-length zipper draft tube keeps the warm air in
  • NEVER ROLL YOUR SLEEPING BAG AGAIN: TETON provides a great compression sack for stuffing your sleeping bag; Start at the bottom and stuff the bag in, then tighten the heavy-duty straps
  • SLEEP WARM: EN rated sleeping bag; Extreme -8F (-22C), Limit 23F (-5C), Comfort 34F (1C); Fluff your sleeping bag and use a camp pad to sleep warmer; Hang loops for long-term storage to maintain maximum loft
  • SIZE MATTERS: With two sizes you're sure to find the perfect fit. For maximum comfort, LEEF Sleeping Bags come in Scout (5'8" & under) and Regular (6'2" & under).

4. Baffin Insulated Slippers

Even inside the tent, it’s nice to have a way to keep your feet toasty. These insulated slippers from Baffin have slip-free soles and drawstring enclosures to keep out drafts.

Baffin mens Cush Insulated Slipper Booty, Black, XX-Large(11-12 M US Men's)
  • Quilted slipper featuring drawstring closure and embroidered logo at vamp

5. Kelty Insulated Camping Blanket

Sometimes when you’re trying to get warm beside a campfire, you need a little extra help. This insulated camping blanket from Kelty is a cozy addition to a fireside camp chair. When you need to pack it up, simply use its convenient stuff sack.

Kelty Bestie Blanket, Limited Edition - Indoor/Outdoor Insulated Camping Blanket
  • The Kelty Bestie Blanket is perfectly sized for lounging around the campfire or for warming up with a good book
  • Insulated with Cloud loft, this blanket will be sure to keep you and your besties warm
  • Stuff sack includes a handle for easy transport to your cozy moments
  • Insulation: Cloud loft, Shell Material: 75D Polyester Taffeta, Liner Material: 190T Poly Pungee
  • Dimensions: (L x W x H): 75. 5 x 42. 5 x 1 in, Weight 1 lbs 8 oz

6. Base Layers

You’ve probably heard it before, but staying warm in winter is all about layers. Start with a lightweight base layer (aka long underwear) that’s made from synthetic breathable fabric. It’s important that this layer of clothing—since it’s right next to your skin—is able to wick away moisture so you don’t get cold. Consider this fleece-lined set for men and this fleece-lined set for women.

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Thermajane Women's Ultra Soft Thermal Underwear Long Johns Set with Fleece Lined (X-Large, Black)
  • Long underwear women are form-fitted to stay in place and feature a squat proof design so you can move in confidence. These sets combine performance with fashion to give you a more streamlined look. Our 4-way stretch fabric is also non-see-through for peace of mind and comfort.
  • Moisture-wicking Features: With their moisture transport system, long johns women wick away sweat fast to keep you dry and light. You no longer have to worry about that sticky or clammy feeling as work out or lounge at home. Your comfort and dryness are assured.
  • Delivering a comfortable and chafe-free fit; these women thermal underwear fits smoothly and soft against your skin. Their poly-spandex material offers breathability allowing odor to escape. Their tagless design allows no skin irritation, and seams won’t rip or tear prematurely.
  • These thermal underwear are lightweight and fit snug against the skin. They won’t bunch up and contour to the shape of your body. You can wear them on their own or under another pair of pants for added comfort. No bulkiness means no riding up or pinching.
  • Flexibility and full mobility are improved with womens long underwear stretch construction. These set’s flexible design won’t hold you back when it comes to body movement. You’ll feel a sense of freedom in all your activities, whether sports, shopping, or leisure.

7. Wool Socks

If your feet stay warm and dry, it’s more likely the rest of you will stay warm too. When it comes to winter footwear, you can’t beat a classic pair of wool socks for warmth. Try Carhartt’s wool boot socks for both men and women.

8. Snow Boots

Of course, having warm socks doesn’t matter if you don’t also have a sturdy pair of waterproof boots. Even if you’re not camping in the snow, boots can help keep you warm. Columbia's Bugaboot Plus III for men is a sturdy waterproof style that still has a flexible rubber sole for comfort. The women's Bugaboot Plus III  is a similar style with an equally rugged design.

Columbia Men's Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat, Black/Charcoal, 10
  • Techlite lightweight midsole for long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high energy return
  • Omni-Grip non-marking traction rubber
  • Combination of leather, nylon, webbing and metal hardware. Techlite shell. Waterproof seam-sealed construction. Omni-Heat reflective lining. 200g insulation. Rated -25F/-32C.
  • Combination of leather, nylon, webbing and metal hardware
  • Waterproof seam-sealed construction
Columbia Women's Bugaboot Plus Iii XTM Omni-Heat Snow Boot, Black, Dark Mirage, 8.5 B US
  • Techlite lightweight midsole for long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high energy return.
  • Omni-Grip non-marking traction rubber, Combination of leather, nylon, webbing and metal hardware.
  • Waterproof seam-sealed construction.
  • Techlite shell. Omni-Heat reflective lining.
  • 600g insulation. Rated -65F/-54C.

9. Polarized Sunglasses

With shorter days and less sunlight, it can be easy to overlook the need for sunglasses. But even in the winter, UV rays can be damaging to your eyes (plus if it’s snowy, it can be really bright outside). A pair of polarized sunglasses should be included on your packing list.

HULISLEM S1 Sport Polarized Sunglasses (Matte Black-smoke)
  • LIGHTWEIGHT POLYCARBONATE FRAME: YOU WILL FORGET YOU ARE WEARING THEM In the middle of an adventure you cannot let heavy sunglasses weigh you down. The Hulislem Sports Polarized Sunglasses have therefore been designed to be extremely lightweight (you won’t believe how much unless you hold a pair in your hands). It is especially great for those who are not used to wearing glasses.The sport sunglasses is great for men and women
  • UV 400 MIRROR FLASH COATING The lenses are mirror flash coated. Which not only limits the amount of light that your eyes are exposed to, but also ensure that no light of wavelength 400 nanometers and below reach your eye. Since light with wavelength below 400 nanometers are the ultra violet light range which can cause damage to the eyes. These means that these glasses give you complete UV protection.UVA, UVB, UVC, Blue Light or any kind of harmful light you can think of
  • SPECIALLY DESIGNED F1 FRAMES An active lifestyle means that your sunglasses will have to be tough and rugged enough to meet up to whatever challenges you throw at it. The specially designed F1 Frame can meet up whatever you dish out to it and more.
  • HD GRADE LENSES Each of the lenses are cut from one single toric lens with the super HD fuction.This means that you get amazing depth perception, color contrast as well as clarity. Clear lower vision field
  • S1 LENS COLORING SYSTEM These sunglasses are equipped with the cutting-edge S1 coloring system. Which means that they do not distort the natural colors while adding color contrast. So, your vision is enhanced without being warped. And you can still see natural color in all its glory.

10. Sunscreen

The same goes for sunscreen. Even in the winter, it’s important to use sunscreen on areas that will be exposed to the sun such as your face and ears. This mini bottle is likely all you’ll need.

Coppertone SPORT Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (3 Fluid Ounce) (Packaging may vary)
  • Water Resistant: Coppertone Sport SPF 30 sunscreen lotion is water resistant (80 minutes), and stays on strong when you sweat
  • Free Of: This Coppertone Sport sunscreen lotion is free from dyes, PABA, Octinoxate and Oxybenzone
  • One lotion bottle, use and reapply as directed
  • Trusted Brand: Voted most trusted sunscreen brand by American shoppers based on the 2020 BrandSpark American trust study
  • One (1) 3 fluid ounce bottle of Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

11. Rhino USA Survival Shovel

Considering that a winter campsite might come with snow, ice, or frozen ground, it’ll be helpful to have a shovel on hand. This easy-to-pack model can transform into a pickaxe and also comes with a carrying case.

RHINO USA Folding Survival Shovel w/Pick - Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Military Style Entrenching Tool for Off Road, Camping, Gardening, Beach, Digging Dirt, Sand, Mud & Snow.
  • AMERICAN OWNED, FAMILY OPERATED - Join the Rhino Family & Support a USA based Father/Son Business!
  • ULTIMATE MULTITOOL - Fire Starter, Whistle, Bottle Opener, Saw, Hoe, Fish Scaler + More All-In-One
  • COMPACT & PORTABLE - Full 31" Long Extended with Adjustable Handle Length - Collapsible to 7"
  • MULTI-FUNCTIONAL - Shovels = Great Garden Tools, Backpacking Gear and Metal Detector Accessories
  • GUARANTEED 5-STAR EXPERIENCE - If you aren't 100% Satisfied for any Reason We'll Refund Your Money

12. Insulated Bottle

Whether you want to keep water from freezing or keep your coffee hot, an insulated bottle will do the job. Look for one that’s vacuum-sealed like this insulated bottle from Buzio.

13. Stanley Classic French Press

On a cold morning, there’s nothing better than waking up to piping hot coffee. One way to make sure your morning brew stays at optimal drinking temperature is to make it using an insulated French press. Again, like the insulated mug, choose a French press that’s vacuum-sealed like this model from Stanley. This important design element will help the coffee retain its heat much longer.

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Stanley French Press 48oz with Double Vacuum Insulation, Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Coffee Press, Large Capacity, Ergonomic Handle, Dishwasher Safe
  • MAKE NOW, DRINK LATER: Designed with double vacuum insulation, this French Press not only allows you to make an amazing cup of Joe but you can also keep it hot for up to 4 hours to enjoy as you go It can keep cold drinks cold for up to 9 hours
  • TOUGH AND DURABLE: We designed this with two layers of naturally BPA-free 18/8 stainless steel walls to provide superior insulation The mesh plunger is strong enough to keep animals in their field but fine enough to keep grounds out of your cup
  • EASY TO CLEAN: The last thing you want to do is spend your time cleaning – that’s why every piece of our French Press is dishwasher safe
  • HOW TO USE: Place your favorite coffee grounds in the French Press, add boiling water and give it about 5 minutes to brew, then press the steel plunger once you’re ready to have a great cup of coffee to start your day
  • LIFETIME WARRANTY: ‘BUILT FOR LIFE’. Since 1913 we’ve promised to provide rugged, capable gear for food and drink, built to last a lifetime. It’s a promise we still keep. Stanley products purchased from Stanley Resellers come with a lifetime warranty.

14. Camp Stove

While popular, canister stoves don’t typically work well in cold weather. For winter camping, it’s best to use a liquid-fuel stove like MSR’s WhisperLite Backpacking Stove. (You’ll appreciate the hot food and drinks once you’re out in the cold!) And note, the fuel canisters are sold separately.

MSR WhisperLite Compact Multi-Fuel Camping and Backpacking Stove
  • Shaker Jet technology makes cleaning as simple as shaking the stove.
  • Made to last with durable stainless steel and brass.
  • Burns cleanly on White Gas and white gas varieties.
  • Minimum Weight: 11 oz. (305 g) Packaged Weight: 14.5 oz. (410 g)
  • Lifetime warranty

15. Weatherproof Matches

Being able to start a fire becomes even more important in cold or wet weather. In addition to some dry kindling and firewood, be sure pack weatherproof matches in a protective case.

Zippo Typhoon Match Kit
  • Stores and protects 15 typhoon matches/ floats in water & keeps matches dry
  • Keeps strike pad protected & dry to ensure reliable match ignition/ reusable, Durable & lightweight for long lasting Use
  • Provides attachment point for use in pocket, go bag, or On pack/ provides extra pads for long lasting Use and match refills
  • Matches can survive being submerged in water or rain/ 4" Long; burns up to 30 seconds
  • Lid and storage Chamber; water resistant storage/ O ring seals

16. Sled

A sled isn’t a must-have for winter camping, but it can make toting gear a lot easier if there’s snow on the ground. Consider bringing along an inexpensive plastic sled or this durable model from Shappell that’s designed specifically for hunting and fishing.

Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled
  • Features. Model Number: JS1, Ideal for ice fishing or transporting deer, firewood, traps or feed.
  • Rugged polyethylene construction. Molded runners for strength and stability. Specially contoured hull allows easy pulling by hand.
  • Dimensions: L 54" x W 24".

17. Minus33 Merino Wool Beanie

Since most of our body heat is lost through our heads, it’s best to cover up when the temperature drops. This wool beanie is made from 100% merino wool and comes in 13 colors.

Minus33 Merino Wool - Ridge Cuff Beanie - 100% Merino Wool - Charcoal Gray
  • QUALITY LIGHTWEIGHT PACKABLE BEANIE: 100% Merino Wool is super soft and extremely comfortable. The best in easy care technology means your merino wool is machine washable and dryable. Comfort, warmth, and breathability make this hat an essential part of your outdoor gear. One-Size fits most. Double fabric for warmth. Simple yet stylish.
  • PERFECT FOR ALMOST ANYTHING: This beanie is perfect for almost any activity. Bring this winter hat for a run, a hike, hunting, ice fishing, skiing etc…This 100% Merino Wool beanie is light and packable, fits under a helmet, and wicks moisture allowing you to stay dry but continuing to insulate when wet. Wear this hat during the winter, spring, or even the fall.
  • EXPERIENCED BRAND: Although there are many copy-cats on the market today, Minus33 has been a trusted brand since 2004.
  • IMPORTED: As the legacy of a 100+ year old USA based woolen company, Minus33 knows quality and comfort in Merino Wool. We are committed to bringing you the best Merino Wool products at a reasonable price.
  • TECHNICAL DETAILS: 100% 18.5 Micron Merino Wool 230 g/m2 Interlock knit construction with flatlock seams. Garment Weight 2.4 oz. (68 grams). UPF Rating 50+

18. Handwarmers

Whether you’re hanging out at camp or burrowing into your sleeping bag at night, hand and foot warmers can help give you an extra boost of warmth. Try classic hand warmers or an  Stay warm out there!

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HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers - Long Lasting Safe Natural Odorless Air Activated Warmers - Up to 18 Hours of Heat - 40 Individual Warmers
  • SAFE, NATURAL LONG-LASTING HEAT - Odorless, Disposable, Single-Use Item, Do Not Apply Directly to The Skin. TSA Approved. Made in the USA using domestic and imported materials.
  • TO ACTIVATE - Remove warmer from outer package, shake to activate. Warmer heats up in 15-30 minutes. If heat decreases, expose warmer to air and shake. After use, dispose with regular garbage. Ingredients will not harm the environment.
  • MULTIPURPOSE WARMERS - Single use air-activated heat packs that provide everyday warmth and are ideal for keeping your body warm when the temperature gets cold. They’re available in several styles designed for your hands, feet, and body.
  • WHEN TO USE: Tailgating at Events, Outdoor Sporting Events, Hunting & Fishing, Camping & Hiking, Working in The Yard, Jogging or Taking Your Pet for A Walk. Convenient, Compact, Portable.