The Gear You Need for Winter Camping in Colorado
For many people, “winter camping” is an intimidating thought.
Curated by Eric Schuette
I know it used to be for me too, especially if it is happening in the mountains! Visions of bitterly cold temperatures, strong winds, and feet of snow all made me opt for the comfort of a warm bed. However, with a little planning and the right gear, it can be an incredibly rewarding and memorable experience. Below is a list of some of the gear I always make sure comes with me when winter camping in the mountains of Colorado.
This tent is my go-to tent for winter adventures. It is about as light as any 4-season tent (for winter camping you will want a 4 season, not 3 season tent) you can get. It holds up well in all but the most serious conditions, fits two comfortably and is fairly quick and easy to set up.
This sleeping bag is light and works well even in cold temperatures. It has a temperature rating down to 3 degrees F. If it gets too cold (as with any sleeping bag) you might need to wear a couple layers but most of the time you can remain warm and comfortable. It is a synthetic bag, which also means if its gets a little snowy/wet it will retain its heating properties
This is a lightweight but effective sleeping pad for winter camping conditions. It packs down easily and has an R rating of 5.7, which means it is solidly in the winter camping range. You do have to be careful with your sharp objects around it (just trust me…) but otherwise it is sturdy and provides a comfortable night's sleep.
I have been using the MSR Denali snowshoes (which are no longer made) and they are amazing snowshoes. The have great flotation, easy to get on or off, and have crampons for getting up steeper/icier slopes. My next pair will be the MSR Revo Explore snowshoes and I am really looking forward to the additional heel-bar to help in steep terrain!
These are a really comfortable, really warm, and waterproof boot for hiking in the snow. With snowshoes, traction devices, or without any extras they are my go-to for cold weather hiking adventures. They are also lighter than almost any comparable boot and make it easy to forget you are even wearing them! This is due to a brand new kind of insulation that takes away the bulk/weight that many snow boots have.
The ghost whisperer may not be the most insulated jacket but it is likely the lightest and most packable. It does have 800 fill down to provide some warmth. The ghost whisperer makes a great jacket to wear getting to and from camp and because of its weight/packability also makes a wonderful layering piece. Although not my warmest jacket, it is probably the one I wear the most in winter.
These are simple but effective mittens that work especially well after you have finished setting up camp. These are warm, waterproof, and windproof which are all essential for winter camping. They also compliment the Black Diamond Lightweight Screentap Gloves, which I really like for when I am getting to or setting up camp.
I have used Osprey packs for 10 years now and I have loved their fit and quality. The Atmos 65 is my go-to backpacking bag and I have used it to carry winter camping gear to my camping spot near or far. It also has ice axe loops in case you need to carry those for your winter adventure.
Having a shell is always important when getting out in the elements, especially the wind and snow of winter. This shell does a great job protecting you and easily fits over other layers if needed. Also be sure to check out the Mountain Standard Camp Chair for a comfortable and sturdy chair to relax in around camp!
These are likely the warmest things you will ever put on your feet….It's hard to imagine a piece of gear you will appreciate more around camp then these booties. Feathered Friends are the industry standard for a very good reason, they are amazing. Be careful walking around outside the tent as the traction is not very good but otherwise a great and lightweight piece of gear around camp.
Anyone that has gotten out with me in winter for the last 6 years has probably seen me in the blue version of this hat. It is comfortable, warm, and I think super cool looking. As you are aware, more heat escapes from our head than any other area and a warm hat is a must for winter camping. I am now on my second edition and still love it!