3 Ways to Prepare for Winter Camping ...

I've only been camping a few times, but I think it's a great way to get the family together for a group activity to show the kids how to fish, make a fire, and how to enjoy life without technology! Today we have guest blogger Stephanie from Always Outdoorswho is going to share with us how you can continue to enjoy camping even when it's cold outside with** 3 Ways to Prepare for Winter Camping...**
Camping in the Winter...
Just because the weather turns cold doesn't mean you have to stop camping. In the winter the campgrounds are less crowded and you don't have to deal with swarms of insects. The bare trees and frozen streams give you a whole different perspective on nature. If you prepare properly, winter camping has many advantages over summer camping. Here are three areas to focus on when you are planning your camping trip.

1. Clothing...

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It's important to take the proper clothing in cold weather camping. The temperature can vary greatly from cold in the morning to quite warm at midday. As soon as the sun goes down, it will get cold again.

The trick to being comfortable is to layer your clothes. A heavy bulky jacket is best left at home. It's best to start with thermal underwear. Choose a synthetic material such as polypropylene, which is known for wicking the water away from your skin. In the winter, you want to stay as dry as possible. Cotton tee shirts and denim jeans are not good choices because when they get wet, they do not dry quickly.

The next layer should have some type of insulation for the upper body. A fleece or polyester garment will hold the heat next to your body. Wool is also a good choice. Wool retains its insulating properties even when wet.

The outer layer will be some type of windbreaker and it should be waterproof. Its function is to keep rain and wind from cooling you down.

Be sure to have wool or down socks to keep your feet warm. Your boots should be waterproof too. A hat and gloves are also essential to keeping you warm. Most of your body heat escapes from your head, so you should keep it covered at all times. If it's really cold, you might want to sleep with your hat on.

2. Equipment...

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If you are camping in an RV, you don't have to worry so much about keeping warm at night. However, if you are tent camping, you need to plan a little more to keep warm.

Make sure your tent is in good shape. The seams should be sealed with seam sealer and all the zippers must be functioning correctly. Do all the window flaps fasten down and do you have a rain fly to go over the top of the tent?

Make sure your tent is rated correctly for the degree of cold you will be experiencing. A three room cold weather camping tent will do for moderate cold, but if you are camping in extreme cold, you will need a 4 season tent.

The same holds true for your sleeping bag. Make sure you know the low temperature that is expected at your campsite. You don't want to take a bag that is rated at 40 degrees on a winter camping trip. It's a good idea to take an inflatable sleeping pad or a foam pad to put under your sleeping bag. It will keep the cold in the ground from seeping up into your sleeping bag. One trick to keep you warm is to put a tightly sealed bottle of hot water into your bag before you go to bed. You will slip into a toasty cocoon.

3. Food...

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For winter camping, you need lots of high calorie, high energy food. You'll be using up lots of calories as you go about whatever activity you have chosen for the day. Here are some suggestions for easy, filling, camping meals.

• Breakfast is very important as I'm sure you've heard all your life. But it's true, and especially with cold weather camping. Oatmeal can fill you up and give you lots of energy for the rest of the day. Pancakes are another good choice. There are plenty of mixes where you just add water. Of course, nothing smells as good as bacon cooking on a griddle. Don't forget warm beverages too. Coffee, tea and cocoa are all good.
• You will probably be out on the trail during lunch, so it is often eaten on the run. Beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit and nuts and peanut butter and crackers will keep your energy up. Cheese and salami are also good snacks to eat on the go. You really don't want to stop too long for lunch because you will cool off. Don't forget to take plenty of water. You need just as much as if you were hiking in the hot sun.
• Dinner should also be a hearty meal. Beef stew, chili or chicken or tuna casserole are easy meals to fix. Another possibility is Italian sauce and pasta. There are also many freeze dried meals that you can purchase in Outdoor stores. Just make sure you cook plenty for your group. Their appetites will definitely increase on a winter camping trip.

Everyone loves the idea of a campfire, but when it comes to camp cooking, a portable grill is best. Remember, the days are much shorter in the winter and you should try to be through eating and cleaning up before it gets dark. A grill heats up quickly and is more dependable when it comes to cooking the food. Save the campfire for roasting marshmallows and drinking cocoa after dinner.

Winter camping can be a lot of fun and you can really enjoy yourself if you just focus on these 3 areas and prepare wisely.

Author Bio: Stephanie lives in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains where she enjoys hiking with her friends and family. She is the publisher of Always Outdoors, a website that provides helpful information on outdoor activities. She also writes reviews of outdoor products. She has written a Nikon binoculars for birding review.

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