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tips for camping in cold weather

As the leaves change, the weather cools, and the holidays are fast approaching, you might think it’s time to winterize your RV and pack it in until next spring.

Cold weather doesn’t have to be the end of your camping season, though.

Here are some quick tips for camping in cold weather:

15 Tips for Camping in Cold Weather

Look for reduced campground rates. After Labor Day, lots of national parks and campgrounds offer reduced rates to encourage RVers to keep visiting. You can find loads of useful information about destinations and activities at Recreation.gov.

Go south for the winter. Things might be cold in the midwest, but destinations in the American Southwest are still fairly comfortable. If you’re visiting the desert, be prepared for intense temperature shifts, since nights can get downright chilly even with daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

If you’re camping in a tent, bring cold weather sleeping bags that are rated for temps lower than you think you need. You never know when temps are going to plummet unexpectedly. Sleeping pads also do wonders to keep your body heat in your body instead of letting it seep into the cold, hard ground. While you’re at it…

Tuck your clothes into your sleeping bag at night so you can wiggle into them in the morning without having to get out into a cold RV or tent.

Test gear before you go. Camping in cold weather is a little more dangerous since hypothermia and frostbite are serious risks. Always test lights, heaters, lighters, and other gear before you hit the road.

Make sure your heater is safe for indoor use. If you’re going to use a space heater for warmth in your RV, be sure it’s rated for indoor use. Carbon monoxide is no joke.

Bring clothes for layering. Extra jackets, gloves, shirts, socks, and long underwear are a smart move. Pack at least a few things that are waterproof, be mindful of fire resistance for your outer layers if you’re going to have a campfire, & always wear a hat in cold weather. You lose more heat than you realize through your head.

Sunburn is still a thing, so bring sunscreen. Sunburn doesn’t take a seasonal break, and winter sunburns are even more frustrating.

Bring dry firewood. As the weather changes, it can be much harder to find dry firewood for a campfire. Bring a few bundles of your own just in case.

Drink and eat hot things. Hot coffee, tea, soup, and meals help you keep your core warm when the weather is cold.

Expect meals over the campfire to take longer to cook. The cold air affects cook times. When you’re preparing meals by campfire, be prepared for added time to boil water, cook meat, and get your food completely cooked. That’s why it’s such a good idea to…

Bring lights. Days are shorter, so it gets dark earlier. Headlamps are especially useful for things like building a fire in the dark or cooking outside.

Be more mindful of wildlife. Fall is mating season for a lot of species and bears are preparing for hibernation. Be careful about leaving food out, bear-proof your campsite diligently, and try to disturb the wildlife as little as possible.

Stay hydrated, but don’t allow yourself to be damp. Dry winter air dehydrates you faster, so drink plenty of water. Take caution with damp clothing or sweat, though, because that little bit of moisture saps your body heat. If your clothes get wet, change into a dry set and allow your damp clothes to dry completely before use.

Have a backup plan. Things don’t always go as planned. What will you do if it starts raining, or if you get snowed in, or if the temperatures drop far lower than what you prepared for? Sometimes, packing it in early and heading back is the best option, while other times, you can stick it out. Know the plan, make sure your family knows the plan, and always keep an emergency kit handy.

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