Winter camping scene with star trails

Winter camping gear checklist

Why go winter camping? Loads of reasons. You get prime campsites without crowds. It’s blissfully quiet, except for soft whumpfs of snow falling off trees. Plus, no bugs. Depending on how far you’re going and how you’re getting there, you may need more (or fewer) items on the cold-weather camping checklist below. Do plenty of trip planning and research before you head out, and remember: hut booties are always a good call.

See winter and snow camping gear checklist pdf

Sleeping and shelter

If you don’t have a winter sleeping bag or 4-season tent, you can rent gear from your local MEC. In calm weather, a well-made 3-season tent can do the trick (read more about the difference between 3- and 4-season tents). Building a snow shelter like a snow cave or quinzhee is also an option if the conditions are right.

Shared items for your camping group:

Camp kitchen

Shared items for your camping group:

Safety gear

Shared items for your camping group:

Clothing and footwear

Layering is the name of the game for winter. You want to stay dry and warm without over- or underdressing. When it comes to materials, leave the cotton behind – it takes a long time to dry.

Personal items

Optional items:

Snow and travel gear

How are you getting to your campsite? The gear you need depends on your travel plan, and the list below includes some possibilities. If backcountry travel is involved, make sure you have all the avalanche essentials and training. Ski tourers: check out our ski touring checklist too.

Whether you’re on snowshoes, skis or driving to a winter campsite, the Leave No Trace principles apply year-round. Brush up on the essentials before you head out and experience the outdoors in a whole new way.