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  • Writer's pictureMarina Neal

Our Favorite Tips (and Tricks) for Winter Camping

Be the first one on the slopes, have the campsite to yourself, and watch the sunset from the cozy nest of your car.

Car camping in Indian Creek Wilderness
Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

There’s no way around it, it’s hard to camp when it’s cold outside. The cons go from questionable weather to the frost coating your sleeping bag each morning. However, if you have a brave heart and a sturdy soul, winter camping is one of the best ways to get outside. There are rarely any people out there, the days are crisp and clear, and hot coffee never tastes better than when your fingers are frozen. Car camping can also allow you to be the first person on the slopes, or up the mountain peak. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to get outside!

Here’s a round-up of five favorite tips and tricks for car camping in the winter season!

1. Maximize layers

Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

Bring fleece pullovers, a down jacket, the insulated overalls you thought you’d never wear, the down booties you usually reserve for skiing, all the knitted beanies you own. It’s okay if you look like a marshmallow, you’ll be warm and ready to roll. Winter weather, especially in the desert, is a bit strange. So be prepared to wear it all at once at night, and strip down to the essentials during the day. The other benefit to having extra puffy layers is that they turn into a wonderful pillow when rolled up! Pro tip: toe warmers aren’t just for the ski slopes. Tuck them in between two pairs of socks for full-day warmth.

2. Sleep in your car

This is a great way to make camping in the winter so much more enjoyable. Have a car that folds down perfectly to make a bed? Great, you’re set. Have a tiny little sedan and don’t know how to sleep in it? Put your feet in the trunk. There are so many creative ways to make a comfortable nest in the back of your car. Throw some sleeping pads, or even a yoga mat if you are feeling minimal. Toss in all the comforters, wool blankets, and pillows that you want. You aren’t carrying any of it, and cozy nights are the goal.

If you don’t have a car to sleep in, no sweat. Just make sure you have a low-rated warm sleeping bag and insulated pad to put on the ground! Layering sleeping bags is a great idea to increase warmth. Learn about best sleeping system practices before you hit the road!

BLM Car camping in Utah
Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

Pro tip: if you have batteries you don’t want to die, such as a phone or a camera, put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag so they don’t get cold at night. The cold drains the battery, and your warm toes will help them survive the dropping temperatures.

3. Hot drinks can heat more than just your belly!

Hot chocolate, coffee in the morning, tea, hot toddies. Whatever floats your boat, hot drinks are the key to a fun camping trip. Car camping is great because you can bring all the water you want, with no worries about running out or pumping more.

Pro tip: want a little extra warmth at night? Boil some water and pour it into a Nalgene water bottle. Put that water bottle at the bottom of your sleeping bag or by your stomach for additional warmth, and a very cozy night.

4. Ball out with backcountry recipes

Girl carries dog across icy rock
Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

I always keep a Coleman stove and some sort of carb base in my car for nights like these. This is not a time to skimp on the food, big rice or pasta meals are great! They fill you up and keep your body warm and digesting through the night. I plan out my meals beforehand and try to make something simple, healthy, and carb-heavy! Then I eat it hot out of the pot so I don’t have to deal with dishes.

Pro tip: make my famous pesto pasta recipe! It’s so simple and deeply filling.

What you need:

  • Pot, pan, stove, lighter, fuel, lid, and utensils.

  • Butter or olive oil

  • Pasta of choice

  • Pesto of choice (Store-bought is great or I like to make my own in advance with steamed kale + basil + olive oil + lemon juice + salt + roasted garlic, blended!)

  • Head of broccoli

  • Sun dried tomatoes

  • Goat cheese

  • Salt and pepper

Pour water in the pot with a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the pasta and bring to a simmer. While waiting on this, cut up the broccoli and toss into the pan with a little oil. Sautée this around until the consistency of your choice, and add in the sun dried tomatoes at the end to soften them up a bit. Once the pasta is done, drain with the lid but leave just a lil pasta water in there. Like maybe two tablespoons. Add the vegetables, pesto, crumbled goat cheese, and S & P to the pot of pasta and stir until everything is coated. Eat, be merry, enjoy!

Camp dinner!
Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

All in all, camping is always going to have its little challenges. But getting outside throughout the year is why winter camping feels worth it. Need gear for your adventure? Requipper has sleeping bags, insulated jackets for men and women, and all the camping gear you could need to have a spectacular time. Plus, we’ve also got a huge selection of skis and snowboards so you can shred the slopes first thing in the morning. We want to help you get out there, no matter the weather!

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