Winter Camping: Is Your Kid Ready for This?

January 30, 2023 4 min read

The Challenges of Winter Camping

We're not going to sugarcoat it; winter camping is a tough experience. Even the sturdiest and most rugged outdoorsmen and experts have a hard time with it. These concerns include:

  • Extreme cold that might make your children uncomfortable

  • Ice and snow weather that can potentially cause frostbite

  • High potential of boredom due to limited sunlight availability

  • Physically demanding experience that requires breaking deep snow

  • Issues with comfort even when in warm clothes

These demands might make you think twice about winter camping at all. However, it's a great way to bring you and your children closer together.

The Benefits of Winter Camping

While camping during the winter will push you and your children to your limits, that might actually be a good thing. Winter camping could be just what you and your kids need! Benefits include:

  • Beautiful wilderness thanks to snow and ice

  • Vacant camp areas that often leave you and your kids alone

  • Great opportunity to see the stars and learn about constellations

  • Personal challenges that help you and your children learn more skills

  • Chance to prove to yourselves that nothing holds you back 

Winter camping provides a challenge that will push you and your kids and enhance their self-confidence, boost physical fitness, and create a lifelong love of the outdoors in all of its beautiful seasons.


How to Gauge Your Child's Readiness

Now, just because your kids seem excited to go winter camping, that doesn't mean they're ready yet. Young ones often just want to do whatever dad says is cool and might not be ready for the unique difficulties it might cause. As a result, it's important to follow the steps below to keep them safe:

  1. Talk Openly about the Challenges: If your kids are excited to try winter camping, talk with them about potential problems you might face, such as cold weather, to see how they feel.

  2. Try It Out at Home: A little trial run is a great way to gauge your children's readiness. Camp out in your backyard on a winter night and do what you'd normally do while camping.

  3. Head Indoors if They're Over It: Your kids will quickly know whether or not winter camping is right for them when you're in your backyard. If they hate it or feel uncomfortable, try again next year.

  4. Check Your Equipment: Before assuming your kids aren't ready, make sure that your tent, clothing, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad are suitable for winter camping. Not all are suitable.

  5. Extend Your Backyard Camping: One night outside in the winter might seem easy when there's a house nearby. However, you should extend your practice runs to make sure your kids feel comfy.

  6. Stop if Problems Develop: When your kids start acting sick or complaining of feeling unwell, just stop immediately. It's better to see they lack proper cold-weather durability at home than when camping.

  7. Try Again Next Year: If your kids aren't quite ready yet, just hold off until next year. As kids get older, they get tougher and might be more liable to stick out tough experiences.

If your kids seem ready to go winter camping, it's best to choose a more high-tech facility with toilets, showers, shared kitchens, kid-friendly activities, and space for extra shelter to make your experience more enjoyable.

What to Pack On Your Trip

Here are a few things you need to pack on your trip:

  • A Four-Season Tent: These tents have very durable and strong materials that can withstand snow loads and heavy winds during the winter. Try to choose one that's big enough for everyone to have a sleeping space and also to store your goods. Consider separated sleeping quarters to trap your body heat.

  • Elevated Camping Beds: Sleeping on the ground in the winter is going to be very annoying. Bring elevated camping beds for everybody, as well as an insulated sleeping pad and winter-weather sleeping bags, pillows, and extra blankets. Leave the air mattresses at home.

  • Fire-Safe Clothing: Winter camping requires a constantly burning fire to keep everyone comfortable during the day and at night. As a result, you need fire-safe clothes, including things made out of aramid, coated nylon, FR cotton, PBI, and modacrylic.

  • Extra Clothing Items: make sure that your kids fit their clothing properly to minimize excessive heat or cold. Bring jackets, sweaters, boots, gloves, hats, scarves, and other items to keep your children comfortable. These extra layers can always be removed if they get too hot playing.

  • Food and Drinks: Your winter camping dishes should include hot meals that keep you satisfied during the cold. Think of things like meat and potatoes in foil packets, camping pie-iron recipes, and tasty hot chocolate, coffee, and hot tea that keeps your temperatures at a reasonable level.

  • Lights: Make sure you bring headlamps and UV-charging LED lights to have a comfortable night in your tent and in the morning. Your daylight hours will be limited, so keep those lights well charged in the sun or use one that has a crank you can use to better charge the lamp.

  • Fun Games: There's only going to be so many times your kids want to go hiking while winter camping. Without opportunities to swim, it's a good idea to bring fun card games and travel board games.

Final Thoughts

By gauging your children's winter camping readiness properly, you can ensure that things go smoothly. If they're not quite ready for this experience, try out fall camping when the weather's more manageable. Make sure that you plan fun scavenger hunts to look for birds, insects, and animals in the wild, as well as play campfire games like I Spy, Never Have I Ever, and even sing songs together to have fun.

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