What Not to Wear When Camping in Winter: 2024 Guide

Winter camping is a lot different from summer camping. You don't have to worry about the hot sun or mosquitoes, but you do have to deal with extremely cold temperatures, which can sometimes get dangerously low. But don't worry, if you have the right gear, you'll be fine. Let's talk about that and get ready for a great winter camping adventure!

What to Wear for a Winter Camping Trip

Wondering what to wear for your winter camping trip? Scroll down below:

1) Layer Up


woman and man sitting in snow talking to each other with firepit in front of them
Credit: Envato Elements/ Pressmaster

Start with a base layer. This should be something snug, like thermal underwear, that keeps you warm and wicks away moisture. Next, add an insulating layer – think fleece or a wool sweater. These materials are great at trapping heat. Finally, top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. This is your shield against snow and wind. Ensure they have sealed seams to prevent melted snow from seeping in.

2) Take Extra Care of Your Hands, Feet, and Head


hands with red gloves holding red thermostat
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In cold weather, your hands, feet, and head can get cold really fast. It's super important to keep them warm. For your head, wear a cozy hat or beanie – it's amazing how much body temperature you can retain just by covering your head.

For your hands, choose waterproof gloves. They'll keep your fingers toasty and dry, especially if you're playing in the snow or setting up your tent. And don't forget about your feet! Thick, warm socks are a must, and if it's really cold, you might even want to double up. A scarf or a neck gaiter can also be a lifesaver, protecting your neck and face from the chilly air.

3) Pick the Right Boots


leg with brown boots walking in snow
Credit: Envato Elements/ ollinka

Your choice of boots can make or break your cold-weather camping experience. Go for boots that are waterproof and insulated to keep your feet dry and warm. They should also have a good grip to prevent slips on icy surfaces and loose snow. Comfort is important, too, especially if you're planning to walk or hike. Make sure your boots fit well and give your feet enough room, but aren't too loose.

4) Choose Comfortable Sleepwear


happy woman comfortable in red sleeping bag
Credit: Envato Elements/ Sotnikov_Misha

Nighttime in the outdoors can get really cold, so it's crucial to have a special set of clothes just for sleeping. Pick something warm and comfortable to wear inside your sleeping bag. Make sure to keep these clothes dry throughout the day. Only use them when you're ready to sleep. This helps to ensure that any moisture or sweat from the day's activities won't make you cold during the night.

5) Adjust as Needed


man in winter clothes sitting outside tent with hot beverage in hand
Credit: Envato Elements/ PaulSchlemmer

The trick to staying comfortable is to add or remove layers as your activity level and the weather change. If you're hiking and working up a sweat, take off a layer. If you're sitting still and feeling chilly, put more on.

What Not to Wear When Camping During Winter

Just as selecting the right clothing is crucial, it's equally important to steer clear of certain items. Be sure to avoid the following:

1) Avoid Cotton Clothing


happy woman with beverage in hand sitting on a chair outside a car packed with luggage
Credit: Envato Elements/ DisobeyArtPh

Cotton might be comfortable, but it's not a good choice for winter camping. It absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry, which can make you feel colder. Instead, go for materials like wool or synthetic fibers that keep their warmth even when wet.

2) Skip the Tight Shoes


legs sitting on chair with tight boots on
Credit: Envato Elements/ leungchopan

You might think snug boots will keep your feet warmer, but they can actually do the opposite. Tight shoes restrict blood flow, making your feet cold faster. Make sure your winter boots have enough room for thick socks and some wiggle room for your toes.

3) Don’t Overdress for Bed


man in cabin with red sleeping bag
Credit: Envato Elements/ PaulSchlemmer

It's tempting to pile on the layers when you're sleeping, but too much clothing can make you sweat, and damp clothes get cold quickly. Wear just enough to be warm in your sleeping bag, not so much that you overheat.

4) No Heavy, Bulky Coats


happy woman in snow with winter gear
Credit: Envato Elements/ maxbelchenko

While you want to stay warm, a big, heavy coat can be too much. It's hard to move in and doesn't allow you to adjust layers easily. Stick to lighter, insulating layers that you can add or remove as needed.

5) Forget the Jeans


man and woman sitting on rock looking at phone
Credit: Envato Elements/ marymandarinka

Jeans are a popular choice, but they're not great for winter camping. They don’t insulate well and can make you feel colder when they get wet. Choose waterproof and insulated pants designed for outdoor activities.

Winter Camping Tips to Stay Warm


happy woman in winter gear enjoying the snow
Credit: Envato Elements/ Woodymoss

Now that you know what to wear and what not to wear for winter camping, let's explore some simple but effective tips to help you stay warm during your cold-weather adventure:

  • Keep moving to generate body heat. Activities like hiking, chopping firewood, or even dancing around your campsite can help you stay warm.
  • Consume high-energy foods like hot soups, stews, and oatmeal. These foods provide your body with the fuel it needs to generate heat.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make you more susceptible to the cold, so stay well-hydrated.
  • Make sure that there's plenty of ventilation in your tent. It might sound odd, but allowing some airflow in your tent can help reduce condensation and moisture buildup, keeping you warmer and drier.

Essential Winter Camping Gear

While clothing is a critical aspect of winter camping, certain accessories can greatly enhance your comfort and safety. Here are some essential accessories to consider:

1) Sleeping Bags and Insulated Sleeping Pads


happy woman in orange sleeping bag with blue thermostat in hand
Credit: Envato Elements/ wayhomestudioo

A high-quality, cold-weather sleeping bag and an insulated sleeping bag liner or pad are vital for a warm and comfortable night's sleep. Ensure the sleeping bag is rated for winter temperatures and use a pad with a high R-value to insulate against the cold ground and melting snow.

2) Headlamp or Flashlight


happy woman in orange tent with torch on head
Credit: Envato Elements/ lakobchuk

Winter days are shorter, and you'll likely need to navigate in the dark. Pack a reliable headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries to light your way and perform camp chores.

3) Snowshoes or Crampons


legs walking in snow with dog in front
Credit: Envato Elements/ Gajus-Images

Depending on the terrain and snow conditions, you may need snowshoes or crampons to move safely and efficiently. Research your camping area to determine which is more suitable.

4) Trekking Poles


old woman walking in snow covered woods with trekking poles
Credit: Envato Elements/ seventyfourimages

Trekking poles provide stability and balance, especially when walking on slippery or uneven terrain. They can also reduce the strain on your knees during hikes.

5) Emergency Kit


woman in red emergency tent

Winter camping can be challenging, and it's wise to carry an emergency kit containing items such as a first-aid kit, fire-starting supplies, a hot water maker to melt snow and make drinking water, a multi-tool, and a space blanket. Be prepared for unexpected situations.


To summarize, remember to wear insulated layers, waterproof outerwear, warm socks and boots, a hat, and gloves. Alternatively, avoid cotton clothing, improper footwear, jeans, and bulky clothes. By following these simple guidelines, you'll be well-prepared for your winter camping adventure in 2024.

And speaking of being prepared, make sure you're prepared with top-quality emergency camping gear from Emergency USA. Our gear is designed to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable in challenging winter conditions. Don't let the cold hold you back – gear up with Emergency USA today!