Winter camping is highly underrated. When the temperature dips and the snow starts to fall, only the most seasoned campers and hikers seem to be left outdoors.
But with so few ways left to safely socialize and travel in 2020, that just won’t do. We’re here to let you know that everyone can become a winter camper with the right preparation and, of course, the right gear.
As Alfred Wainwright famously said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
A Colorado campervan rental makes cold weather camping much less daunting. You don’t have to worry about sleeping on cold, wet ground. Every campervan rental comes with a comfortable bed, clean bedding, and warm exterior so you’ll stay cozy on even the coldest winter nights.
With your shelter and transportation needs squared away, all you have to do is worry about packing things that will keep you cozy, safe and, most importantly, ready to have loads of cold-weather fun.
Check out our list below of basics, luxuries, and oddities that will make your next cold weather camping trip warm, cozy, and a ton of fun.
1. Smartwool Merino 150 Long-Sleeve Baselayer
If you’re doing any sort of outdoor activity in cold weather, you need base layers. And smart layers are one of the best ways to stay warm when camping in the winter.
Baselayers are traditionally lightweight, moisture-wicking pieces of clothing that you wear against your body to trap warmth and keep you insulated even on the coldest of days.
Pair the Smartwool Merino 150 long-sleeve top with some baselayer leggings or thermal underwear under your clothes for the days when the temps are threatening to drop below freezing.
2. Carhartt Waterproof Insulated Gloves
Playing outside in the winter requires some heavy-duty gloves if you don’t want to tempt the fates of frostbite.
The best winter gloves for outdoor activities have a waterproof exterior, a moisture-wicking lining and enough flexibility in the fingers that you can still grip a steaming mug of coffee or hold onto your ski poles. We love these Carhartt gloves because they check all the boxes, and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
3. Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer
If you already own gloves but you’re not sure whether they’re up to the test of keeping you warm through a day of outdoor winter fun, consider getting some refillable or rechargeable hand warmers.
Since they’re reusable, they’re more environmentally friendly than the disposable chemical hand warmers that we all grew up shoving into our boots and gloves.
These hand warmers will keep you toasty up through 12 hours of use so you can confidently head out for a day on the slopes or the trails.
4. Columbia Bugaboot III Winter Boot
There’s nothing worse than a water-logged pair of boots after a day of playing in the snow. They’re wet, uncomfortable, and unsafe.
That’s why it’s important to find a pair of winter boots that have a sturdy tread, a waterproof exterior, and an insulated interior.
We like the Columbia Bugaboot III because it offers all these features, and it hits high enough on the calf to prevent snow from falling down into the gaps around your ankles.
5. Adventure Medical NanoHeat Blanket
Nothing sucks the fun out of a camping trip like a medical emergency. It’s important to always be prepared for an accident when you’re out in the elements, but it’s especially vital to take precautions when you’re facing conditions of extreme cold.
It’s important to know the signs of hypothermia and carry an emergency rescue blanket that can act as an insulating layer between you and the elements. This NanoHeat blanket comes in a compact pouch that’s easy to throw into your day pack should you ever need it in the event of an emergency.
6. Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set
You don’t have to be a badge-decorated scout to build a roaring campfire. With the help of a fire starter, you can be sure to strike a spark that will keep the fire blazing deep into the night.
This Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set is engineered to last for 20,000 strikes, which means you’ll probably never have to purchase another one ever again.
Reminder: always check with local regulations before building a campfire and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the surrounding environment.
7. Solo Stove Portable Bonfire
If you’re not in the mood to tend to the campfire all night but still want to enjoy a toasty fire in the evenings, consider splashing out on a portable bonfire.
You heard that right. Solo Stove sells a smokeless, portable fire pit.
The stainless steel contraption weighs in at 20 lbs. which makes it easy to lug from your car to your rental campervan and back at the end of your trip.
8. DryGuy Travel Dry DX Boot Dryer
Wet boots are the nemesis of winter hikers and campers. This DryGuy Travel Boot Dryer is the perfect tool to combat these winter woes.
Pop these bad boys into your ski boots or hiking boots after a day on the trails or at night while you’re sleeping, and when they’ve worked their magic, you’ll be able to slip into a pair of heavenly dry, toasty boots.
9. Thermal Antifreeze Phone Case
Technology doesn’t love extreme heat or extreme cold. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, you’ve probably seen a temperature warning come up on your phone in the summer or winter.
It’s important to keep your phone safe and functioning in case you need to call for help, or even just to take a once-in-a-lifetime picture. Grab an insulated phone case that will protect your phone from dying at the worst possible moment.
Burton’s also doubles as a wallet with pockets for your ID and credit cards, so you can carry one less thing in your pack.
10. L.L. Bean Winter Walker Snowshoe Package
If you’ve ever gone for a winter walk and stepped on what you thought was solid snow only to have your leg sink down to the knee in a freezing cold snow drift, you know how nice it is to have a pair of snowshoes.
These snowshoes come with aluminum crampons that help you get traction on icy terrain, and poles to help you balance as you explore the beauty of tranquil winter trails.
11. L.L. Bean Sonic Snow Tube
Tubing isn’t just for kids. Put on your warmest winter gear, look up the best local tubing hill and go for a day trip in the van to enjoy the thrills of whipping down the slope through the snow like you did when you were little.
Giggles guaranteed. L.L. Bean sells XL tubes that are perfect for adults and smaller tubes if you’ve got the kids coming with you.
12. Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle
Whether you’re hiking, skiing, skating, tubing, or snowshoeing, nothing keeps morale up on a bitter cold day like a steaming hot beverage.
Brew up some coffee, tea, hot chocolate or even soup if you’re feeling funky, and throw it in your bag for the perfect midday pick-me-up.
13. Oliver Pluff & Co. Wassail Gift Set
Speaking of winter warmers, consider grabbing a mulled wine or mulled cider kit to take on your trip with you.
They come with everything you need for the perfectly spiced adult beverage. Just add your favorite red wine or cider to a pan, throw in the mulling kit, and simmer until the whole campsite smells like the holidays.
14. Ooni Portable Wood-fired Outdoor Pizza Oven
One of the major perks of camping with a rental campervan is that you can pack some items that would be too bulky to even consider bringing on a traditional camping trip.
That includes a gourmet pizza oven that produces pizza so fresh you would swear you had suddenly been transported to a restaurant at the base of the Italian Alps.
15. Eskimo QuickFish 2 Portable Ice Fishing Shelter
For the campers that are also dedicated anglers, this is the perfect addition to any winter camping trip.
Built for two, this portable shelter stands up against heavy winds, and provides the perfect shelter to hunker down for a day of ice fishing and hanging out.
Weighing in at less than 20 lbs., just collapse it back down when you’ve got your catch for the day, and pack it back into the safety of your Colorado campervan rental until tomorrow.
Did we miss any of your favorite cold-weather camping must-haves? Let us know below! We’re always on the lookout for gear recommendations from fellow campers.
Stay Active and Have Fun This Winter
Now that you have a hearty list of all the gear you need to stay warm during a day of fun this winter, it’s time to start planning your next outdoor adventure.
You don’t have to be a hard core skier to have a blast outdoors this winter. Check out our cold weather camping guide to keep the fun going all season long >