Winter Camping Essentials: Surviving the Cold

Camping can be even more enjoyable when you throw some challenging weather into the mix, which is why so many people are winter camping enthusiasts. To make the most of your trip, ensure you have the right winter camping essentials. Camping in the winter comes with a whole new list of responsibilities, essential gear, and things you need to know. There’s a whole new level of safety to consider as well, so it’s not a trip that you could plan overnight and be ready for the following day.

We’ve rounded up some of the best camping tips for when you’re headed into cool conditions, along with some winter camping essentials and food ideas you should know. There’s no denying the uniqueness of being in the great outdoors as temperatures drop, and as long as you’re prepared for the journey, then you’ll be able to enjoy it just as nature intended.

How Does Winter Camping Differ?

Couple Heating Next To Campfire

Cold weather camping might seem as though it’s the same as regular camping, but this assumption is usually made by someone who’s never done it before. Not only will the temperature be lower and you might also be camping in the snow, but there are some other things that will be different as well:


Where you decide to camp will also be different when you’re going out in the cold. Some areas are set up better for winter camping and also safer, so don’t just assume your regular favorite camping spot will do during colder temperatures.


There’s a lot of things you’ll have to take when you camp in the cold but it’s not a very detailed list. Most of it is about staying warm and being prepared for the risks of cold temperatures.


Camping in the snow means you can do things like build snowmen, climb frosty peaks, ski, snowboard, or go ice fishing. You might miss out on some traditional camping activities but there’ll be a new list of them for you to enjoy. Some people find winter camping to be a lot more fun than camping in the summer, so you might surprise yourself.


Camping in freezing temperatures brings with it a whole new list of safety precautions, the most obvious of which is frostbite or something more serious. Therefore, you need to stay warm and keep the blood pumping, so you’ll need a lot of energy.

The Essentials For Winter Camping

Packing Gear For Winter Camping

No matter when you go camping, you’ll always have to check off your winter camping checklist to ensure you have all of the right gear. Camping in cold weather means you’ll still have this list, but you’ll have to bring some additional things along.

  • Warm clothing: Have a few different layers that you can remove when it heats up rather than adding to your clothes as the temperature drops. Bring a puffy jacket, gloves, socks, glasses, a hat, and a waterproof jacket, at the very least.
  • Sleeping pads: Pack two instead of one sleeping pad to keep yourself warm from the cold ground.
KAMUI Sleeping-Pad-Green-horizontal
  • Regular supplies: You will need all standard gear, including a tent, first aid kit, sleeping bag, and camp chair.
  • Camping Food: Being cold will burn extra calories even if it doesn’t feel like it. Bring winter camping food and snacks, and stay fully hydrated . Thorough food planning and preparation are essential when winter camping. It would help if you had winter camping food ideas that are hearty, nutritious, and easy to prepare in cold weather conditions. Let us help you prepare your shopping list for your next winter camping trip’s meals.

Easy Winter Camping Food Ideas

cooking a potato dish in winter

What food is good for winter camping?

For winter camping, focus on high-calorie foods like nuts, cheese, and dried meats for sustained energy. Opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and starchy vegetables. Stay hydrated with hot cocoa and broth. Choose easy-to-prepare foods that won’t freeze, like instant soups and stews. Aim for 3,500-5,000 daily calories, especially after active days.

Considerations for Winter Camping Food

  • Calories: You will burn more calories adventuring in cold weather, so it’s important to pack plenty of high-calorie foods. An active person camping outdoors in winter should aim for 3,500-5,000 calories daily. If you’ve had a more active day, you’ll want to aim for the higher end of that range.
  • Fats and Proteins: These nutrients provide sustained energy and keep you warm. Choose nuts, seeds, cheese, dried meats, and fatty fish for healthy fat and protein options.
  • Carbohydrates: These are nutrients that provide quick energy. The best carbohydrate-focused energy comes from complex carbohydrates like whole grains and starchy vegetables rather than simple sugars.
  • Fluids: Stay hydrated even in cold weather. Drinking plenty of water can be difficult when you’re feeling chilly. Heating your water, making hot cocoa, and sipping broth will keep you hydrated and warm up from the inside out.
  • Ease of Preparation: When choosing winter camping food items, choose meals that are easy to cook and require minimal cleanup. Remember that you’ll prepare, cook, and clean up after your meal while exposed to the elements.

Easy Winter Camping Meal Ideas

Very few aspects of winter camping are easy, but luckily, your meals can be! Here are 15 easy-to-prepare and nutritious winter camping food items.


You burn more calories while being active in winter. You must begin your day with a hearty, nutrient-dense breakfast. Here are five great winter camping breakfasts.

overnight oats
  • Overnight oats with dried fruits and nuts: Soak oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in milk or yogurt overnight. In the morning you can eat this meal cold or add hot water to help you warm up.
  • Warm granola with powdered milk: Mix instant oatmeal or granola with powdered milk and hot water for a quick and filling breakfast. Add fresh fruit and nut butter for additional flavor and calories!
  • DIY trail mix: Combine nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and granola for a customizable and nutritious snack. If you have a sweet tooth, you might ever find that adding a chocolate or peanut butter chip helps it hit the spot!
trail mix in a bowl
  • Tortillas with peanut butter and banana: Spread peanut butter on tortillas and top with sliced bananas for a portable and satisfying breakfast. Add berries and granola for additional nutrients and flavoring.
  • Pancakes: This breakfast item requires a little more preparation than the others, but it’s still pretty simple. Throw your pancake mix in a shaker, add some oats and chia seeds, and then pour it into a skillet. Top your warm pancake with nut butter and fresh fruit for additional nutrients.


This breakfast item requires a little more preparation than the others, but it’s still pretty simple. Put your pancake mix in a shaker, add some oats and chia seeds, and then pour it into a skillet. Top your warm pancake with nut butter and fresh fruit for additional nutrients.

pancake topped with butter and fruits
  • Thermos Soups: Pack pre-made soups or stews in a thermos for a hot and hearty lunch. These are also easy to prepare over an open fire or camping stove. Pop the can, pour it in, and add your favorite toppings.
  • Dehydrated Stew with Added Veggies: Rehydrate pre-packaged stew and add fresh or frozen vegetables for extra nutrients. Purchase your favorite rehydrated stew, or make and dehydrate your own!
  • Easy Rice: Cook instant rice with spices and top it with your favorite toppings, such as cheese, beans, or vegetables. The KAMUI Japanese Mixed Rice is a great option because it does not require cooking!
  • Sandwiches: There are a few sandwich classics, but a few pairs are better in winter weather than a classic grilled cheese or toasted peanut butter and jelly.
  • Camp Quesailla: Throw your favorite meats, vegetables, and cheese into a tasty tortilla and fry it! Bring sour cream, salsa, and guacamole for tasty dipping.


Sit down after a long day of winter adventures with a warm dinner.

  • Hearty Quinoa Bowl with Fixins: Combine cooked quinoa with roasted vegetables, mixed nuts, and dried fruits for a complete and flavorful meal. Add roasted chickpeas or canned chicken for easy protein options.
Quinoa bowl - winter camping food
  • Mac and Dogs: Saute up some onions in a pan alongside cheddar cheese hot dogs. While these are sizzling, prep your favorite mac and cheese. Cut up the dogs and add them, alongside the onions, to your Mac for a hearty winter meal.
  • Grilled Chicken Wraps with Avocado: Marinate chicken breasts and grill them over the campfire. Wrap them in tortillas with avocado, salsa, and cheese. Add veggies like fresh bell peppers and onions for additional flavor.
Grilled chicken wraps
  • Homemade Ramen: Prep your favorite veggies at home before frying them up in sesame oil in a pan at camp. Add chicken stock, canned chicken, and soy sauce, and let it simmer. Add ramen noodles and toppings you love for a warm, hearty meal.
  • Chili and Cornbread: Combine your favorite ingredients into a large pot and let them cook. Make cornbread over an open fire in a cast iron skillet. Add jalapenos to your cornbread for a bit of extra flavor!

Ten Tips for Cooking in Cold Conditions

Cooking in cold conditions can present challenges. To ensure a successful cooking experience, remember a few things.

Three guys grilling food outdoors
  • Plan your meals ahead of time and pack all the ingredients you need.
  • Line coolers with insulating materials to keep food from freezing.
  • Plan for your meals to take longer to cook.
  • Use a camp stove for faster and easier cooking.
  • Build or bring a wind block to help with efficiency
  • Pre-chop vegetables and meats at home to save time.
  • Melt snow for water instead of relying on streams or lakes, but know that this will use more fuel than running water.
  • Pack insulated mugs and bowls to keep your food warm.
  • Enjoy your meals in your tent or a sheltered area to avoid the wind and snow.
  • Bring water wipes to clean out your cookware after preparation
Two campers sharing meals while camping in winter

Camping during cold weather poses challenges, yet the experience can be both demanding and fulfilling. But with enough forethought, you can enjoy mouth-watering, nutrient-rich winter camping meals that will keep you fueled for your adventure. So pack your bags, grab your appetite, and head out for a winter camping trip you’ll never forget!

What Are the Best Places for Camping in Cold Weather?

To find a great camping spot that’s good in winter, you can head onto one of many camping directories now available online. People will be able to point you toward the best spots for cold-related activities like skiing and snowboarding, as well as safe and covered places to set up camp.

A woman walking on a trail in winter

The most important thing to remember when you’re camping in cold weather is that there are other dangers present. The most obvious one is avalanches, which can occur suddenly and without warning. Check your surroundings before you set up the tent and look for any potentially hazardous spots above or near you that could create an avalanche.

You’ll also need to ensure you’re sheltered from the wind, so do some checks when you arrive on site. Most people can withstand cold temperatures, but with an added wind chill, there’s the potential for harm and it can make it feel much colder than it actually is. Pack the snow down before setting up your camp, and always be mindful of your surroundings during your stay.

Be Prepared For Anything

No matter what time of the year you go camping with your international friends, you should never venture out without being prepared or knowing the winter camping tips. There are so many known and unknown dangers in the great outdoors and it would be a shame to put a dampener on a good camping trip just because you weren’t prepared for the worst.

Woman Swimming In Cold Water

Being careful of the cold weather and educating yourself on frostbite and how to prevent it is a big part of this preparation. Secondly, you need to know your area and what gear to bring to make you comfortable and protected in these colder conditions.

There are so many amazing benefits you will have from winter camping and if you’ve never experienced it before, it’s something you’ll never forget. Provided you’re prepared for how different it can be, camping in winter is one of the most epic experiences for those who love the great outdoors.