5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Winter Camping
Imagine snowshoeing across a frozen lake with a wide expanse of deciduous forest unfolding in front of you. Thanks to the leafless trees, you can see deep inside the woods, where well-traveled animal tracks crisscross fluffy, white snowdrifts. The only sound is the snow crunching beneath your feet and the cheerful whistle of the Black-Capped Chickadee overhead. The pristine landscape belongs to the wildlife and the few brave souls who venture out to experience the everyday world in a whole new light.
This is winter camping. And here are some more reasons your outdoor adventures don’t need to end as the days grow colder.
- Get Outdoors and Get Inspired
Winter conditions can be an obstacle to nature lovers, but it doesn’t have to be this way. “Lots of people live in places that are cold half the year, and don’t know how to access nature in the wintertime,” says Nick Gordon, owner and guide at NOW Outdoors, based in Milwaukee, WI. “I show people where they can go for hikes, ice fishing, and hunting.” Learning to camp in the winter will give you the confidence to enjoy breathtaking nature all year long.
- Learn New Skills
Long-distance through-hiking, it ain’t. Winter camping is all about traveling shorter distances and staying warm, happy, and comfortable. Gordon guides his groups about 1.5 miles into the Wisconsin national forest, across frozen lakes, while campers pull a sled filled with gear to make camp. There, you’ll learn how to set up canvas hot tents, heated by wood-burning stoves, how to bake fresh sourdough bread over the open flames, wilderness survival skills, and basic first aid that can serve you any time of year.
- Enjoy the Wilderness Without Crowds or Distractions
Sure, camping July 4th weekend is nice, but it’s certainly not private. When you camp in the winter, it feels like the winter landscape belongs to you and Mother Nature alone. Another bonus: no bugs.
- Build a Huge Fire
A campfire is one of the coziest parts of the outdoor experience. When you’re winter camping the way Gordon does it, your six-foot-long campfire becomes the center of your winter world. Gordon teaches his groups the basics of felling trees, processing firewood, and building a roaring fire that burns all day. This is the place you will gather to learn new skills (like whittling and knot-tying), and to cook, eat, and relax.
- Sleep Warm
Imagine falling asleep in a 75-degree tent when it’s -20 degrees outside. Sleeping in a custom canvas tent heated by wood-burning stoves means you always stay warm and dry and ensures that your body’s internal temperature stays level throughout the day. You will not be cold even in below-freezing temps.