Cold Weather Camping Clothes

Is it chilly outside and do you still want to go camping? Don’t let the cold stop you from getting out and hitting the trails to see the white winter wonderland and all that it has to offer. What clothes to take on a camping trip?

cold weather camping clothes

Going outdoors when the temperatures are low requires some preparation to stay warm and protected. Warm clothes for winter camping will protect you from hypothermia and frostbite so don’t go out without the ones you need.

Your secret to success in this season will be a good four-season tent and some appropriate cold weather camping clothes. Here’s your essential guide on what to buy, bring, and wear.

What should I wear for cold weather camping?

What camping clothes for cold weather should you wear? Dressing in layers is crucial when the temperatures are low and the wind is strong. However, the type of material that you wear also plays an important part. Do you know which type of winter camping clothing to wear?

Let’s see the cold weather camping clothing list and pieces of clothing that will you need to pack if you intend to go winter camping.

How to layer for cold weather camping?

Cold weather is all about having multiple layers of clothes on you. If they get wet you can still take them off and put dry ones on.

You need to preserve the body temperature all the time so make sure you will have enough garments to change in.

These are the 3 winter camping clothing layers that you will need to wear and some other useful tips to stay warm in low temperatures.

Inner or base layer

The innermost layer would be the clothing that you take off the last – your long underwear.

inner layer clothes

If you get cold easily but you don’t sweat that much, you’ll want to start with wool underclothes such as merino wool. But if you tend to sweat a lot, you’ll want a polyester T-shirt.

The idea is that the fabric wicks the moisture away from your skin as this will cause you to quickly become over-chilled. Being wet and cold is a hypothermia risk.

Don’t wear cotton when you tent camp as it doesn’t have the wicking properties like other fibers. There are always some interesting new synthetic fabrics on the market, don’t be afraid to look at those, either.

Middle insulating layer

This layer of clothing wears between your inner base layer and your outer jacket layer. It’s made of thicker, warmer, or puffier material. Fleece, polyester, and down tend to be the main players here.

When it comes to middle layers, you really can’t judge by the material and thickness alone, you need to try it on. Jackets are nice but don’t forget about the rest of your body such as fleece or insulated pants.

Winter camping pants

Camping pants for winter are one of the most important pieces of clothing that you will be thankful for having on. As you will be active on your trip, the lower part of the pants can easily get wet. The moisture can penetrate your socks if you don’t have waterproof pants on.

Make sure you get pants that will be waterproof and warm enough to have active camping without being cold due to the moisture. I am a fan of fleece-lined pants that are warm and won’t let the moisture close to your skin.

What is the meaning of down jacket?

A good waterproof down jacket is one of the best clothes for winter camping that you must consider. Down is a lot warmer for the weight compared to other garment items, and can be rolled and pressed very tightly. It’ll also last for a very long time if it’s taken care of correctly.

down for winter camping

However, down loses all of its warmth if it gets wet, and it tends to take a long time to dry. Cleaning a down jacket requires special knowledge, care, and materials. Lastly, some people tend to be allergic to it.

Outer shell layer

You waterproof your tent by spraying it with a special chemical, and this makes the tent waterproof. Your outer layer is the winterizing agent that makes you winter-proof against the wind, chill, rain, sleet, and snow.

Sometimes this is called rainwear, but you want everything that you pick to be actually waterproof and not just water-resistant. Rainwear is on the best winter camping clothes list that will stop the precipitation from penetrating the rest of the clothing.

What does water-resistant mean?

Water-resistant means that it can withstand some rain for a while, but eventually, you will end up as soaked as if you weren’t wearing one at all.

Durable Water Repellent (DWR) or just Water Repellent is a new technology that causes water to bead on the hydrophobic material’s surface and eventually slide right off.

Moisture vapor transmition

You also need your outer layer to be breathable so that you can expel the perspiration that your inner layer wicked from your skin. Sometimes this is called Moisture Vapor Transfer.

Generally, soft shells should be highly breathable by default. It should also have windchill protection by default of being waterproof.

You definitely want the full windproof label, and not simply wind-resistant, which means that it can hold up to mild breezes, but not fully-fledged storms.

Best cold weather camping clothes

Make sure that the top of your shoes or boots is covered by your pants. If they aren’t, bring gaiters to keep your feet nice and dry. You don’t want your shoes getting wet as the moisture will get to your socks, and then to your feet.

Bring 3-in-1 jacket

Another idea is a 3-in-1 jacket that acts as a windproof, waterproof, and breathable jacket typically made of fleece. They tend to come with a second inner component so that you can just stash that in your pocket in case you don’t need it. This type of jacket is on my winter camping clothes checklist for sure.

A hybrid shell jacket

There’s also something called a hybrid shell jacket. Exactly how they are hybrid varies from product to product, so you need to read the label and have an idea of the kind of weather you will experience at your camping site. It is on the winter camping clothing list as it protects from precipitation, offers insulation, and is lightweight.

Winter accessories

You’ll want to bring some other things too. For your hands, bring gloves or mittens just in case. Not losing fingers to frostbite is always worth the reduction in dexterity.

For your face, a ski mask or face mask just in case the wind is blistering cold, a hat or beanie to cover your head and shade your eyes, and sunglasses for when the sun is right in your path.

winter mask

Wear sunglasses in winter

You’ll want to make sure that they are UV blocking. Glasses with colored lenses yellow through red or with a Visible Light Transmission (VLT) of 20-40% are very good in cloudy, low-light conditions.

Polarized lenses and anti-reflective coating cut down on glare but hikes generally don’t have much of this except the glare reflecting on your sunglasses themselves.

Mirror-coating, like metallic lenses, reduces the amount of light that passes through.

Extra clothing

Extra clothing is always a good idea. If nothing else, you can use it as extra stuffing in your pillow or extra padding inside your sleeping roll to help keep you warmer.

Be sure that your extras include socks. Keeping your feet dry is very important, especially on longer expeditions.

If you will go camping in winter with your infant you should consider these tips to protect your baby and keep him safe and warm.

How much clothes to pack for camping?

When going to camp in cold temperatures make sure that you pack more clothes than when going camping in the summer. The reason for extra clothes is simple; you will have to change to dry clothes.

I recommend packing extra long pants, socks, gloves, long sleeve shirts, and long underwear.

If you want to know how to pack clothes for camping in a backpack, check this article for an explanation.

How to wash clothes when camping?

Separate clothes that are the dirtiest and the ones that need a normal wash. You can wash them by hand, using water and washing powder, or opt for a portable washing machine to save your time and effort.

How to dry clothes while camping?

You can dry them in the tent or in the vestibule (if the tent has it) by setting up a clothesline. Make sure that you have optimum airflow inside so the moisture can get out.

A tent heater will speed up the drying process so it is good to have one. You can dry clothes outside under the tarp that you set. Clothes should be stretched well and hung so they will get dry faster.

What clothes to sleep in when camping?

It is also important in what you sleep. Choose warm cotton clothes as they are skin-friendly, breathable, and provide warmth. You can wear cotton or fleece pajamas. Still, don’t overwear as it might get too hot in your sleeping bag (if you will sleep in it).

If you will sleep on a camping cot or a sleeping mat you can cover yourself with the outdoor thermal blanket or emergency blanket that provides insulation.

Keeping warm in winter tips

What clothes to wear on camping? If you consider my guide on what clothes should you pack for camping, you should have a good time no matter the cold and wet weather.

On every trip, bring your camping go-bag with your go-to camping gear, including first aid and extra water or a water filtration system.

I hope that your next trip goes swimmingly thanks to this guide on cold weather camping clothes to wear.

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