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Don’t Flake Out: What You Need to ‘Snow’ About Camping in Winter

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Camping is certainly one of the most popular American pastimes, with nearly six out of 10 U.S. households reporting that at least one of the residents has gone camping. But if you thought that this beloved activity was limited to the summertime, think again. You can just as easily camp out when there’s snow on the ground as you can when the temperatures soar. But if you’re a cold weather camping newbie, there are a few things you might want to know first.

Pick the Right Place

In 2017, domestic travel rates throughout the U.S. increased by nearly 2% — and there’s no doubt that camping in the great outdoors gives you a great excuse to experience the beauty of our great nation. When you camp during the warmer months, you can go just about anywhere, even on short notice. But when you camp in the cold, you should give careful consideration to where you hunker down. Instead of opting for a locale way out in the woods, you should choose a spot that’s sheltered and in close proximity to assistance. Be close to open water and available firewood, or buy a cord of wood in advance. Take a look around for damaged tree limbs and pick a spot that will offer the earliest sun exposure to warm you up come morning.

Get the Right Gear

You’re only as good as your camping gear, as far as we’re concerned. When camping in the winter, it can make all the difference between being prepared for anything and dealing with a real emergency. Your tent should be weatherproof to protect you from the elements. Be sure to do your research and refrain from using an old standby option just because it’s cheaper or easier. It needs snow stakes, as well. You’ll need a warm, weatherproof sleeping bag, liner, and pad, along with a stove that works in cold weather and appropriate footwear that will keep out the wet and provide ample traction. And above all else, bring lots and lots of layers. Snow camping is not an activity that’s conducive to packing light.

Plan For the Worst

Keep in mind that the white fluffy stuff can be dangerous. Around 11,500 people are treated for serious injuries each year as a result of shoveling snow. While you hopefully won’t have to shovel while you camp, you still need to be realistic about the hazards and make every effort to stay safe.

For one thing, you should never camp out alone. It’s a good idea to go in a group, preferably with individuals who bring valuable skills to the table. You should have a clear itinerary and inform others back home of your plans (and stick to them). Give friends and family information about who you’ll be with, as well as the identifying information of your vehicle and the area you’ll be near. Bring some two-way radios in case your cell phone service becomes nonexistent. Bring lots of food and drink (more than you think you’ll need) and be sure to stay hydrated. Learn how to spot the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and familiarize yourself with treatment methods. Basically, be a bit of a pessimist. Hopefully, you won’t ever require those skills — but if you do, you’ll be prepared.

Camping out in the snow can be absolutely breathtaking. You’ll just need to make every effort to ensure you all come home safe after the trip is over. If you follow these tips and don’t take the situation too lightly, you’ll be in great shape to brave the elements and make some amazing memories.

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