The Essential Winter Camping Checklist to Stay Safe and Warm

Tent in the snow

Your winter camping checklist could make the difference between a successful winter camping trip and one where you are miserable.

Winter Camping Checklist Importance

Winter camping can involve snow, ice, and rain, which can be life threatening if you are not prepared. A few tips to remember when you are getting ready for a winter camping trip:

  • Never camp alone in severe weather conditions; even the most experienced outdoorsman can get into trouble when in extreme weather conditions
  • Always bring extra clothing so you can change into dry gear while the wet clothing dries
  • Wet extremities can lead to frostbite
  • Avoid cotton clothing because cotton is not, as wool or other fabrics, designed to provide extra warmth during the winter.
  • A winter camping checklist will help you bring all the essential gear to make the trip fun
  • When sleeping, cover your head or wear a hat, much of your body heat escapes through the head
  • Dress in layers to stay warmer
  • Mix your water with lemonade or Gatorade; the sugar keeps water from freezing until it reaches a lower temperature
  • Coffee filters can be used to filter debris from melting snow to be sterilized as drinking water

Shelter and Sleeping

Proper shelter from the cold is the most important aspect of winter camping. Tent camping will require a different checklist than trailer camping. Staying warm in a tent will be more of a challenge. Remember that you should never use a propane stove or gas heater in your tent.

Sleeping and Tent Gear

  • Four season tent
  • Rain fly for the tent
  • Tarp large enough to fit under tent
  • Cold weather -40 degree sleeping bag
  • Floor pad
  • Pillow
  • Bivy sack
  • Waterproof stuff sack for sleeping bag
  • Hammer
  • Stakes capable of anchoring into snow
  • Extra tarps to hang between trees as wind blocks
  • Rope

Items for Warmth

  • Disposable feet and hand warmers
  • Ensolite or closed cell foam pad to sleep on


  • Lantern -battery and gas operated
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Extra mantels
  • Extra propane


  • Water
  • Insulator for water so it won't freeze
  • Water purifier

Cooking and Fires

  • Firewood
  • Waterproof matches in a waterproof container
  • Lighter
  • Fire starter
  • Campfire grill
  • Charcoal
  • Fry pan
  • Small pot
  • Insulated cup
  • Bowl
  • Spoons
  • Pots and pans
  • Pot lifter
  • Coffee filters
  • Condiments
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cook stove-propane
  • Propane canisters
  • Wind screen
  • Utensils
  • Hot pads
  • Food
  • Ice chest

Clothing and Personal Items

  • Several pairs of warm winter socks
  • A snow hat
  • Facemask
  • Gloves
  • Mittens
  • Plenty of shirts and sweatshirts to layer
  • Clothing made specifically for cold weather
  • Long underwear
  • Snowshoes or boots
  • Rain boots
  • Raincoat
  • Sunglasses
  • Underclothing
  • Warm coat

Personal Care Items

  • Hygiene items
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes to give yourself a sponge bath
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen

Additional Items

  • Ax to chop firewood
  • GPS -global positioning system
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Avalanche probe
  • Snow saw
  • Tool kit
  • Knife
  • Duct tape
  • Rope
  • First aid kit
  • Signaling mirror
  • Multifunction watch with altimeter
  • Whistle
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Energy bars and gels
  • Trail mix
  • Cash
  • Small backpack
  • Generator
  • Gasoline for generator
  • Extension cord for generator
  • Camp chairs
  • Umbrella

Extras Just for Snow and Ice

  • Snowshoes
  • Crampons
  • Skis with skins
  • Ice axe
  • Trekking poles

Winter Camping in Your Trailer

Many camping trailers come equipped with a heater to keep you warm and cozy. Trailers protect you from the elements better than a tent. The winter camping checklist above will be much the same for camping in a trailer as in a tent. Additional items are needed to make sure your trailer stays in working condition.

Items Needed for Trailers or RVs

  • Tool kit
  • Spare tire
  • Jack
  • Roadside assistance equipment
  • Road flares
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Extra fuel
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The Essential Winter Camping Checklist to Stay Safe and Warm