Cold weather camping is easy if you have the best camping gear to fight the elements.
It’s all about the layers when it comes to winter camping clothes that keep you safe and warm when camping in the winter!
Psst we’re compensated…see our disclosures.
- 1 Winter Camping Clothing And Gear Keeps You Warm!
- 2 Heat Generation And Loss Body Cycles
- 3 Cold Weather Camping Gear: What NOT To Wear
- 4 The Science Behind Wintertime Camping Clothes
- 5 Wicking/Inner Clothing Layer
- 6 Warmth/Middle Clothing Layer
- 7 Wind And Waterproofing/Outer Clothing Layer
- 8 Protect Body Extremities With Winter Camping Clothing
- 9 Maintaining Traction In Slippery Conditions
- 10 Next-To-Body Warm Camping Gear
- 11 Winter Clothes For Camping Dogs
- 12 Drying Wet Winter Camping Gear
- 13 Winter Camping Gear For Tent Camping
- 14 Extreme Gear For Winter RV Camping
- 15 Food And Drinks For Winter Camping
Winter Camping Clothing And Gear Keeps You Warm!
If you want to experience a camping themed Christmas in deep snow … go for it!
As long as you protect your body from the elements.
Heat Generation And Loss Body Cycles
Your body goes through cycles of heat generation and heat loss.
When you are hiking or chopping wood, for example, you are more active and your body is creating heat and moisture but while you are sitting or sleeping, you are losing heat.
Wearing the right camping clothes in winter will keep you comfortable in a wide range of conditions.
What NOT To Wear Is The Secret To Staying Warm!
Because I love living in the warm temperatures of Phoenix and think an 85°F day is perfect … I know all about staying warm when we head to the cold mountains on our camping trips!
Cold Weather Camping Gear: What NOT To Wear
If you want to stay warm when you are camping in the cold, you need to have the right winter camping gear and more importantly … you should AVOID certain types of popular camp clothes.
I was not a straight “A” student when it comes to science … but I do understand a bit about the science associated with winter camping essentials that will keep your body warm!
The Science Behind Wintertime Camping Clothes
There is a purpose to each of the three layers of winter camping clothing:
- Wicking – This is the Inner layer worn next to your body.
- Warmth – This is the Middle layer worn between the Inner (Wicking) and Outer (Wind And Waterproofing) layers.
- Wind And Waterproofing – This is the Outer layer worn over the Middle (Warmth) layer.
Wicking/Inner Clothing Layer
Your inner clothing layer should keep your body dry by drawing moisture (like body sweat) away from your skin and transferring it to the Warmth/Middle layer where it should evaporate.
You actually want this layer to be made of a thin non-plant based fabric that fits relatively snugly.
DO NOT use cotton or other plant-based materials for this layer (this is one of the most common camping safety mistakes made when camping in cold weather.)
Like the plant, cotton material absorbs water which is exactly the opposite thing you want to accomplish here so avoid cotton as your base layer.
DO use synthetic materials like polyester or animal-based materials like wool for your Wicking/Inner layer.
Consider wearing snug-fitting long johns as your inner clothing layer when camping in cold weather.
Men’s Lightweight Thermal Underwear Long John Set Fleece Lined Base Layer Top And BottomWomen’s Ultra Soft Thermal Underwear Long Johns Set with Fleece Lined
Consider wearing thermal heavy-duty socks to keep your feet warm and safe in cold weather.
Carhartt Men’s Extremes Cold Weather Boot SocksCarhartt Women’s Thermal Heavy Duty Crew Socks
Warmth/Middle Clothing Layer
Your middle clothing layer should keep you insulated and warm.
This clothing should be made of fleece, wool, down or synthetic insulation.
Consider fleece jackets as the middle layer for your upper body.
Colorado Timberline Steamboat Fleece PulloverColumbia Benton Springs Full Zip Jacket Soft Fleece
Consider boot liners as your middle layer to keep your feet warm while camping in the winter.
The warmth that wool provides is a great option as your middle layer but not a good option to be worn next to your skin or as an outer layer…
… because … wool can be itchy and dries slowly if it gets wet while most synthetic materials hold less water and dry faster.
Boot Liners With 3 layers Of Protection
Wind And Waterproofing/Outer Clothing Layer
Your outer clothing layer should repel wind and water while keeping you warm.
It is the bulkiest layer and the first to be removed.
If you are camping in gently cold conditions, you may only need a windbreaker type of outer layer but extreme cold weather camping conditions will required a thicker hooded parka and snow pants-type of layer.
Consider wearing a heavy insulated or down parka.
Caterpillar Men’s Heavy Insulated ParkaAlpine North Womens Vegan Down Parka
Consider wearing snow pants … especially if you are in wet, cold weather.
Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo PantsArctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pants
Protect Body Extremities With Winter Camping Clothing
Don’t forget to protect your:
- Hands and fingers
- Head, face and ears
- Neck and chin
Gloves And Mittens
Cold heads and hands are a quick path to an overall cold body.
Winter hiking gear MUST include items that keep your extremities covered and safeguarded from bitter temperatures.
Use mittens or gloves to protect your hands and fingers from the elements; just make sure they are waterproof.
Carhartt Men’s Waterproof Insulated GlovesWomen’s Gloves With Waterproof Wicking Insert
Hats And Balaclavas
Wearing a hat with earflaps will prevent heat loss especially if you cover that with the hood of a coat.
Many people don’t consider covering their face and neck but in more extreme temperatures, it is critical to cover as much skin as possible.
Use a face mask or balaclava to cover your face and neck.
Carhartt Akron HatFleece Windproof Face Mask Balaclavas Hood
Neck Gaiters And Scarves
Cover your neck and chin area from exposure to cold temperatures during daytime activities as well as overnight while you sleep.
Scarfs and neck gaiters are great pieces to add to your winter camping clothing wardrobe.
By the way, I have a slight confession … because I live in Phoenix and my body is used to 100+ degree temperatures in the summer, I pull out my wintery camping clothes in the fall which happens to be the same time many visitors from back east show up in flip flops and shorts. LOL
Neck Gaiter Face Cover ScarfColumbia Fast Trek Scarf
Maintaining Traction In Slippery Conditions
Keeping yourself upright when in slippery conditions helps you to stay dry and therefore warmer.
But, it is not always easy so you may want to think about using a set of traction cleats over your boots.
Traction For Your Boots
Boot traction gear is available in the spike variety like these Traction Cleats With Spikes as well as the stud variety like these Easy Slip On Traction Cleats.
Unigear Traction Cleats Ice Snow Grips With 18 Spikes For Walking, Jogging, Climbing And HikingWAYPOR Ice Grips, Traction Cleats, Ice Cleat, Easy Slip On, Outdoor Durable, 10 Steel Studs, Stretchable, Prevent Slipping From Ice/Snow, Extra Studs Included In Each Package
Next-To-Body Warm Camping Gear
In addition to clothing, you can use winter camp gear to help you stay warm.
Adhesive Body Warmers
In addition to wearing the right winter camp clothes, warmer packets are convenient to keep you warm.
They are adhesive and will quickly warm your hands, toes and body especially when you keep them inside your gloves, boots etc.
When you want a little dose of warmth, just open the outer package and expose the packet to air.
They use all-natural, non-combustible ingredients that are non-toxic and odorless.
HotHands Adhesive Toe WarmersPeel N’ Stick Hand, Toe And Body Warmers
Winter Clothes For Camping Dogs
If you are bringing your dogs on cold-weather trips, make sure they are prepared with warm waterproof shoes and coats.
Waterproof Skid-Proof Dog ShoesWarm Polar Fleece Turtleneck Waterproof Winter Dog Coat
Drying Wet Winter Camping Gear
It is best to keep your gear dry … especially your inner and middle clothing layers.
But, if you are unable to keep your equipment dry, you may need to use the heat from a campfire to dry your gear.
Have your camping fire starters ready to start a fire no matter how wet the conditions happen to be during your trip.
Winter Camping Gear For Tent Camping
Tent camping has particular challenges when it comes to cold weather camping.
You need to know how to stay warm in a tent no matter how extreme the cold temperatures get!
Extreme Gear For Winter RV Camping
Motors, pipes and seals don’t do well in extreme freezing temperatures.
These tips will make winter RV camping easy and enjoyable!
Food And Drinks For Winter Camping
A nice warm meal and hot drink will help you stay toasty!
Try my campfire hot cocoa and campfire Dutch oven chili recipe to start your cold weather menu.
See all of our hearty winter camping recipes to create your meal plan!
No matter what food you are craving, we have awesome recipes for every occasion.