Just because the colder months have rolled in doesn’t mean you have to sit at home and stop exploring. Winter camping can be just as fun as summer camping if you know what you’re doing. Being prepared for whatever unpredictable winter weather can throw at you is key to camping and keeping warm no matter the climate.
Layers are critical to keeping warm in winter. Wearing multiple layers helps you stay warm by trapping warm air between them and drawing moisture away from your body. When layering, you’ll want to start with a base or thermal layer and build out from there until you’re warm enough. Having a quality outer layer is also important, as with the onset of colder weather often comes rain, wind, and depending on where you’re going, snow. This means having a waterproof, windproof, and warm outer layer will be sure to keep you cosy and dry.
In winter, especially if you’re heading somewhere that is prone to rain or snow, having a solid pair of waterproof shoes and quality socks is another way to make sure you avoid the cold. There’s nothing worse than having wet socks and cold feet. Wool, acrylic or polypropylene socks are the best options for keeping your toes warm and dry when it gets especially cold. Packing an extra pair of clothes somewhere you can guarantee they won’t get wet means you’ll never be caught short should you get rained out. You also shouldn’t overlook the sun in winter either, having sunscreen and a hat on hand no matter when you’re travelling means you’ll always be protected.
Stay warm while you sleep
Camping in winter doesn’t have to be a cold, miserable experience, and no matter what your setup is you can make sure you’re as warm and comfortable as possible. If you’re heading into the winter wilderness, you’ll want to make sure that whatever accommodation option you choose is waterproof in case of rain. If you’re planning to sleep on the ground, either inside a tent or swag, using foam tiles or a tarp underneath it is a good way to insulate yourself from the cold that can seep up from the ground.
If you’re looking to take your winter camping to the next level a 12V setup means you can run a whole variety of home comforts including electric blankets, coffee machines, and portable heaters. Having a system with enough power to run a Pure Sine Inverter means that you can plug in and power all your household luxuries while off grid. To determine what size inverter, you’d need to run a coffee machine or electric blanket, check out our blog on the ins and outs of inverters.
Having a sturdy outdoor shelter is another necessity for winter camping. Winter can be unpredictable and even if no rain is predicted, it can often show up without notice and leave you stuck inside a cramped tent or having to go home. A sturdy awning or gazebo means that you get a bit more space to spread out and stay dry while you wait out the rain.
Another overlooked thing that can make camping in winter that much better is a nice, hot meal. Nothing beats sitting around the campfire on a cold night and getting into stuck into a steaming bowl of food or waking up to the smell of bacon and eggs on a chilly morning. With a dual battery setup, you can easily run a 12V fridge meaning that you aren’t limited to eating non-perishable ingredients or having to fish soggy food out of the esky. You can take all the fresh ingredients needed to make your favourite camping meal or perhaps cook up something new with a little inspiration from Fire To Fork.
Responsible campfire use
One of the best aspects of winter camping that you often don’t get to experience in summer - with fire bans across much of the country - is relaxing around a campfire. There’s nothing better than keeping warm, having a few beers, sharing stories, and even cooking around the campfire. Before you light a fire though it always pays to check the campsite or national park rules and regulations to make sure you’re not endangering any flora or fauna. It’s also important to know whether you must bring your own firewood so you can account for this extra weight.
If you’re planning to hit some remote tracks this winter, having a chainsaw on hand is always a good idea. With many tracks becoming less travelled over the winter months, coming across a fallen tree or two is not uncommon. Having a chainsaw on hand means that you can easily clear your path and even cut the wood into small enough chunks to use for a fire.
Having recovery gear and knowing how to use it is also another must have if you’re looking to get stuck into some muddy 4WDing. Mud can be just as tricky as driving through sand and so having gear you’re confident using, whether it be MaxTrax, snatch straps or a winch means you’ll always be able to get out of a sticky situation.
With enough knowledge and preparation, camping in the winter can be just as fun and rewarding as any summertime adventure. We hope we’ve inspired you to brave the cold and get stuck into exploring this winter. If you’re looking for some destination inspiration, check out our recommendations for 4WD tracks in your state, our guides to travelling local or watch Overland Travellers explore the Flinders Ranges below.