- Remember that in the winter you can usually
stop and make a fire almost anywhere.
- Always carry a lighter or matches with you,
as well as some tinder (paper or dry shredded
bark, etc). The heat of your hand will
"activate" the lighter (they don't work well
- Keep in mind natural fire starter material
that you can use: birch bark, cedar bark, thin
- Non-natural fire starter materials include
toilet paper, newspaper, notepaper. Carry some
with you at all times.
- Practice getting a good hot fire going
before you have to.
- Keeping dry and sheltered are two key things
to keep in mind.
- Don't try to be a survival purist until you
have mastered the techniques. Cold weather is no
time to fool around and be arrogant or over
- Don't rely on following your footprints back
out from wherever you are camped. They can get
snowed over or blown in.
- Take special care of your car keys if you
have driven to a trailhead to go winter camping.
Your car is your lifeline back to civilization
and safety. And make sure it is in good
condition and always starts promptly.
- Don't rely on trail markers to find your way
- snow on tree trunks may obscure them.
- Drink enough water. We tend to ignore this
in cold weather, as we associate drinking water
with heat and cooling down.
- Fatty foods are important. It is hard to
keep warm in the winter on a vegetarian diet.
- Remember that it gets dark a lot earlier in
the winter. Plan accordingly.
- A side effect of this is that you must deal
with boredom due to the long winter nights.
- Also be sure to have adequate flashlights.
Even if you don't wish to use them (a useful
exercise is to try to do without light as much
as possible), they may prove to be critical in
- Don't rely on building a snow shelter. Bring
a tent in case you can't get a decent shelter
- If you are new to winter camping take it
easy at first. Don't embark on a weeklong
off-trail expedition until you have some
experience under your belt.
- Be aware of the dangers of warm (above
freezing) weather while winter camping -
everything can get wet, and you can get
hypothermic much sooner than you realize - the
warmth will fool you.
- Consider pulling your stuff on a sled. This
will usually make it much easier to travel.
- Snowshoes are, generally speaking, more
versatile than skis, unless all of your travel
will be on frozen lakes.