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How to Plan Your First Winter Camping Adventure

Oh, waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the morning, warm sun rays inviting you to go barefoot through the crystal dew drops hanging by each grass thread, the smell of last night’s campfire still lingering in the air…it’s all those little things that make camping such a magical experience.

Too bad winter is coming… Should you stop doing what you love once the first snowflakes begin to fall? No! Even though they may appear as warm-weather outdoor activities, not all of them are limited to summer months. Sure, we all know that hiking is a year-round activity. But have you ever considered snow camping or winter paddle boarding?

winter camping

Winter surfing spots like Norway, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, Iceland, and Alaska welcome water sports enthusiasts who are not afraid to get a little wet even if they are surrounded by snow and the air temperature is below freezing. Sometimes, these surfing spots are so remote that there’s no other option except camping.

Whether you decide to do it on a narrow mountain ridge, go snowshoeing through the forest and set up camp by a lake you plan to paddle board on (if it’s not already frozen!), follow my tips and tricks to make your first winter camping adventure a success!

Choose the right winter camping equipment

winter camping

Winter hiking and camping are quite different from their summertime counterparts. To start with, you need to layer up. This means a base layer (thermal underwear), an insulating layer (the one that’s actually keeping you warm), and the outer layer, or shell (the windproof, waterproof and breathable layer that protects you from the weather).

While trekking, skiing or paddle boarding, you might feel comfortable even at -15°C (5°F). But that also means that you’ll be sweating, and you’ll want your clothes to be able to evacuate all that perspiration effectively. Once you stop moving, you should not feel wet and should have some warm clothes to throw on, including a goose down jacket, gloves and hat. These items can take up quite a lot of space, which is why you should start with choosing an appropriate backpack.

winter campingWinter backpack

When winter camping, you need to carry extra gear and clothes that take up a lot of space. Your backpack should have enough room to accommodate all that, but not be too bulky. Make sure the backpack is lightweight and fits your size. I’m 1,60 m (5’2’’), and a 60-liter backpack is the maximum I can handle. Also, try to pack the bare minimum. Winter hiking is hard work as it is, and you wouldn’t want to be carrying too much weight.

Make sure the backpack has lash points so you can attach snowshoes, trekking poles, snow shovel, skis, crampons, ice axe, etc. Split the tent between your trekking partners. You can attach the poles to the outside of your backpack, and you can do the same with your sleeping pad (just make sure you use a waterproof cover for it).

Winter sleeping bag

Goose down is superior to synthetic insulation, but it is also more expensive. You must also make sure to keep it dry, or it will not do such a good job at keeping you warm. As a rule of thumb, choose a sleeping bag that is rated at least 10 °C below the minimum temperature you expect to encounter. Read the labels carefully and see the ratings for comfort, limit, and extreme.

The comfort rating means the lowest temperature at which you will not feel cold and will be able to sleep in a relaxed posture.  The limit is when you are fighting the cold but are not shivering. Your posture will most likely be curled up inside the sleeping bag, but you are not at any risk just yet. However, this is not very comfortable, and if you have a strenuous trek the next day, you will not wake up feeling refreshed.

The extreme rating is the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag can protect you from frostbites. I’m telling you, sleeping in these conditions is out of the question – you are shivering and literally fighting to stay warm.

There have been a couple of times when I had to use the emergency blanket inside the sleeping bag because I was simply too cold. And I still couldn’t get any sleep. But hey, I survived the night, right? That doesn’t mean that I want to do it again, though. I learned my lesson and I now postpone my treks when temperatures around -33 °C (-27 °F) are expected.

Winter sleeping pad

While some may recommend using two sleeping pads one over the other for extra insulation, they can take up too much space. That’s why it’s best to get one that can withstand the weather on its own.

Sleeping pads are rated using an R-value indicator, that can be between 1.0 and 8.0. The higher the value the better the insulation. Unfortunately, an R-value over 5.0 usually means bulky inflatable mattresses that are better suited for RV camping. Closed-cell foam pads and self-inflating pads with an R-value between 4.0 and 4.9 should do a pretty good job at keeping you warm.

winter camping

Winter tent

Four-season tents are the most popular option when it comes to snow camping. Opt for double-wall tents, as they do a far better job at maintaining the warmth and provide better ventilation, which means less condensation (water drops by night and snowflakes in the morning over your sleeping bag).

Make sure you pack down the snow before setting up your tent. Loose snow might melt over the night and result in an uncomfortable sleeping position. Keep in mind that it’s always better to sleep on snow than on rock or ice. Not only will it provide a more comfortable surface for sleeping, but also snow is a very poor heat conductor and thus a good insulator.

Backpacking Stove

Canister stoves are the go-to option for three-season camping. They are lightweight, easy to use and readily accessible. But come wintertime, canisters can struggle in freezing temperatures. Luckily, there are special winter butane-propane mixes that work quite well regardless of the temperatures. They are more expensive,  but certainly worth it if you are not planning to stay for too many nights or do a lot of cooking.

The performance of liquid-fuel stoves does not depend on the temperatures. White gas is readily available in most outdoor gear shops, and there’s also the option of using autogas. However, if the latter is not clean, the debris might cause the stove to clog.

They may be a little trickier to operate, but liquid-fuel stoves remain the best option for multi-day winter camping trips, as they work just as well in bitterly cold temperatures as they do in summer. Furthermore, they perform well in windy conditions when covered with a windscreen, whereas covering canisters can lead to overheating.

Useful winter camping tips & tricks
(some learned the hard way)

winter campingSleep with your boots inside your sleeping bag

Never leave your boots in your tent vestibule. In the best case scenario, they will only be freezing cold in the morning. In the worst case, they’ll be frozen. Trust me; spinning your boots over your stove as if they were roast chickens is not funny! It’s a waste of gas, time and nerves.

Sleep with your boots inside your sleeping bag. If you have boots with removable liners, you can sleep with the inner boot on your feet and keep the outer boot near the sleeping bag. If not, use a plastic bag to keep your boots inside.

winter campingBring a snow shovel

Leveling the surface where you wish to pitch your tent with your bare hands, trekking poles or ice ax can take ages. Nowadays, snow shovels are lightweight and foldable, and can easily be attached to your backpack. They are indispensable in digging a snow shelter around your tent, digging for fresh water and in avalanche rescue. They also come in handy when you plan to sleep in a mountain shelter, where blizzards can cover the door entirely and you must dig your way in.

Melt snow to make water

There’s no use carrying fresh water when there’s plenty of snow just outside your tent door. Don’t just melt the snow, boil it! Snow may seem immaculate, but it can still carry bacteria and dirt that can lead to all sorts of stomach issues.

Keep in mind, though, that snow is demineralized water and therefore cannot hydrate you properly. To add some nutritional value and ions, squeeze a lemon inside, add vitamins powders, oral rehydration salts or throw in some tea bags.

Eat a hot meal before you go to sleep

Your body needs fuel to generate heat, and you should go inside your sleeping bag warm. What insulation does is that it keeps the warmth within, but you need your body to be warm in order for this to work. I tend to get very cold as soon as I stop moving, and eating a big hot meal rich in fats and carbs helps me stabilize my body temperature. An aspirin also helps.

Opt for wide-mouth bottles

It’s best to bring wide-mouth bottles. These make pouring water you make from melting snow easier and less messy. Use insulated covers for your water bottles and keep them upside down so that the lid does not freeze shut. Alternatively, wrap your wattle bottle in warm clothes inside your backpack.

winter campingUse lithium batteries

Lithium batteries last three times longer than alkaline or Ni-MH batteries and are much more powerful in cold weather. Cold temperatures drain the life out of your batteries, so make sure you bring enough extra batteries and keep them warm in a pocket close to your body when you move during the day and in your sleeping bag by night.

Whether it’s your first time or if you’re a seasoned Winter camper, being prepared for the elements is the key to a successful Winter Camping Adventure.Good luck on your next Winter camping trip!


winter camping

Author: Octavia Drughi

Bio: Octavia is a travel writer, rock climber, and mountaineer who loves sharing her outdoor adventures on and on her personal travel blog,


Sporting Dog Health In The Field


The fall colors are fast approaching which means the bird-hunting season is right around the corner. For those discerning hunters that chase their tail-wagging companions around, it is important to recognize the environmental elements a sporting dog can face afield and the precautionary measures that can be taken to help alleviate risk in a trip to the vet office.

sporting dog

For a sporting dog,  eyes, ears, and footpads are three areas that see the most abuse and can lead to irritations and infections that prove quite troublesome. In my years of guiding wing shooting trips and training pointing & flushing breeds alike, here are some tips to keep your hunting partner running the whole season:

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How To Make A Canning Lid Pumpkin

Holiday Craft DIY – Canning Lid Pumpkin

I love Fall. The smells, the sweater weather, the hot cocoa, and the colors and in my area of Idaho that includes canning.  Knowing how to can and putting your canning knowledge to good use, is a great way to help sustain your families food storage supply. If you’ve never canned before visit our blog article “Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Canning Today!

But what if you do can and have leftover canning lids this DIY craft project might be a fun way to usher in the Fall season. Today we are going to teach you how to make a cute Halloween canning lid pumpkin using your leftover canning lids!

Continue reading “How To Make A Canning Lid Pumpkin”

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Canning Today!


A Family Affair!  Top 5 Reasons To Start Canning

by Garden_geek_sisters

We are 5 sisters from Idaho who love to can! We grew up canning alongside our grandma and our mother! It’s of our heritage, a cherished skill passed down from generation to generation! The wife of a farmer and rancher as well as the mother of 5 children, our grandmother found canning an essential part of life. At age 90, she still cans today! She learned from her mother and ours from her. Now we want to share this love with, not only our posterity but with you! We want to share some reasons why starting your first canning adventure will be worth it!


The point of this article is not to make you feel bad about shopping at your local grocery store for food or feel like you need to be a canning expert to get started. What we will show you is why preserving even one item a year can and will enrich you and your families life.

Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Canning Today!”

Fall Chicks Are Here!

Get Your Fall Chicks Flock Started Now

However, Fall or Winter can be successful seasons to get a jump start on next year’s flock. There are advantages to getting Fall chicks instead of waiting for springtime. Listed below are a few of them.  You can get chicks at all 25 of our store locations! Find your local store, here

Tentative Store Delivery Dates:
Idaho, Utah (including Elko & Yuma) Store – Sept 4th, 11th, & 18th
Arizona (excluding elko & Yuma), Nevada Stores  – October 9th, 16th & 23rd.

  1. Acclimating New Fall Chicks to Hot Climates.

Extremely hot weather can be very hard on animals living outdoors. A good portion of the United States is in hot to very hot climates. Chickens of all ages can struggle with adjusting to scorching temperatures. Starting your flock in the fall allows your chicks to make a smooth transition from an indoor brooder box to an outdoor coop.

Continue reading “Fall Chicks Are Here!”

Learn How to Easily Churn Butter At Home

Here is a simple way to churn butter at home!

What goes better with warm homemade bread than creamy homemade butter?  We were able to churn butter using an LEM Butter Churner that you can find at any of our 25 C-A-L Ranch Stores.  Find a store.

We included a basic recipe for this blog, but other recipes are included also. Let’s begin!

Step one, open up your  LEM Butter Churner.  Buy this online

churn butterchurn butter

Step 2,  the ingredients.

Grilled Steaks – Southwest Chipotle New York Strip Steaks


by Brian Becktel – CAL Ranch Stores Sporting Goods Merchandising Assistant

This grilled steaks recipe makes enough for four 10 oz grilled steaks.


    • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
    • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
    • 2 Tbsp Ground Chipotle Pepper
    • 1 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
    • 1 Tbsp Smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp Mustard Powder
    • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
    • 2 tsp Garlic Powder

Continue reading “Grilled Steaks – Southwest Chipotle New York Strip Steaks”

How To Get Ready For Eclipse 2017

eclipse 2017

Readiness Guide for Eclipse 2017

Eclipse 2017 on Aug 21st is fast approaching and Star gazers across the country will be headed towards their preferred viewing destination.  Not sure where to go to get the best view of Eclipse 2017?  Here is a map from NASA showing where the path of totality will happen from Oregon on the West Coast across to South Carolina in the on the East Coast.  Where are you heading to get your view of this galactic phenomenon?

  Continue reading “How To Get Ready For Eclipse 2017”

Learn How To Make Dutch Oven Bread – Step by Step DIY Recipe Guide

Yummy Dutch Oven Bread Recipe

The smell of fresh bread never fails to take me back to my childhood. I’m suddenly sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, watching in awe as she baked her famous bread for all of us to enjoy. This blog post is going to go in a less traditional direction, we’re going to learn how to bake dutch oven bread in the great outdoors!

Dutch oven meals can make or break a camping trip. In all my experience, the best trips are the ones that produced successful Dutch oven meals such as peach cobbler or vegetable stew so I’m always looking for new recipes to try while camping. One thing I never considered making  Dutch oven bread. Luckily, Camp Chef has a 4-ingredient recipe for dutch oven bread so simple and delicious, parents love to make it and children love to eat it.
Continue reading “Learn How To Make Dutch Oven Bread – Step by Step DIY Recipe Guide”

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