Wearing the Right Clothes for Winter Camping

Wearing the Right Clothes for Winter Camping

Wearing the Right Clothes for Winter Camping


Winter camping and backpacking can be exhilarating. Looking out a beautiful winter wonderland and experiencing the true essence of winter is an amazing experience – one that can turn sour pretty quickly if you’re not prepared for it.

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re getting ready to go out on a winter trip:

  • Make sure to go out in a group to minimize your chances of getting lost
  • Plan your time on the trail properly – make sure you have enough time before dark to set up camp
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave
  • Avoid areas prone to avalanches
  • Remember to bring extra food and fuel to cook with

All of these are important but, possibly the most important consideration is this:

Be sure to pack the right clothes!

To protect yourself from the cold it is important to pack the proper clothing – and enough of it to be prepared for the worst. It’s important to stay warm and dry so pack clothes that will layer and are breathable, insulated and, most importantly waterproof.

The clothes you wear while backpacking in the winter are split into three layers – base layer, middle layer and outer layer.

Base Layer

Your base layer is, as the name suggests, the foundation of your clothing layers. Base layers should be moisture wicking, synthetic fabric that covers your core, arms and legs. This will keep sweat away from the skin where it could cause fluctuation of body temperatures.

Middle Layer

Your middle layer will keep your body warm and retain heat. Wear things like fleece lined pants and long sleeve shirts over your base layer. This is where the majority of your warmth is going to come from on cold days and nights on the trail so be sure that it’s comfortable for your time at the campsite and while you’re out hiking with your pack on.

Outer Layer

Finally your outer layer (or shell) should be something that can shield you from the cold. Ski and snow jackets are a perfect example because they’re insulated but they also can act as a wind breaker so that the wind doesn’t blow through and chill (or even freeze) the other layers you’re wearing.

Wearing the right clothes is paramount on any hiking trip but can mean the difference between dangerously low body temperatures and an enjoyable hike during the winter. Be sure that you’re dressed appropriately and get out there and enjoy it!

Ian Campbell Ian Campbell is the founder of Love the Backcountry and a long time lover of adventure travel. When not writing about the backcountry, he can typically be found hiking, backpacking and camping in the mountains and looking to lay his head beneath as many trees as he can find.