Camping season doesn’t have to end when the weather turns cold — in fact, it can actually be pretty darned great. The crowds and bugs are long gone, and the frosty environs can make for beautiful landscapes.
But this isn’t exactly the time to wing it. Sleeping under the stars isn’t so enticing when there’s frost on the ground. Campers these days are fortunate to have access to lots of innovative gear, including plenty of options if you’re looking to brave the cold.
We’ve compiled a sampling of the best products available in three categories: Tents, sleeping bags, and general gear. Each item was designed specifically with cold-weather camping in mind. We evaluated these essential items for camping based on popularity, quality, craftsmanship, and value.
Hot or cold, rain or shine, every camping trip is only as good as its shelter. Tents are the first lines of defense against the elements, and that’s never more important than when the mercury drops.
- Coleman Elite WeatherMaster: Hardcore “base camp” tents can run in the thousands of dollars, but unless you’re somewhere in the Himalayas, then that might be a bit of overkill for the average weekend warrior. This monster six-person tent has all the bells and whistles, including LED overhead lighting and a separate “screen room” for lounging away from the elements.
- Crua Culla Maxx 3 Person Insulated Inner Cocoon Tent: When warmth is truly at a premium, it’s time to up your tent game. This model can be a bit of an investment, but one well worth it, particularly if you plan to go cold-weather camping more than once. The secret of this tent is special insulation that keeps you snug against the cold.
Only slightly less important than the tent is your sleeping bag — and it’s important enough that it should be self-explanatory. Get snug as a bug in a rug.
- Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag: As its name suggests, this sleeping bag keeps you warm even in subfreezing temperatures. The down stuffing and waterproof finish mean the tent stays dry as well as warm.
- Nemo Sonic 800-Fill Down Sleeping Bag: Are you a “hot-blooded” sleeper? This model is the Cadillac of cold-weather sleeping bags, keeping you comfortable under the most frigid of conditions while providing a vent that floods your core with cool air.
Round out your experience with gear that keeps you comfortable whether you’re inside your tent or out in the wilderness.
- HotHands Hand and Body Warmers: This is the easy way to get warm and stay warm, no matter where you are. This variety pack literally has the whole family covered from head to toe.
- Ignik 2-in-1 Heater/Stove: Turn up the gas to full blast with this propane-powered multitasker. Cook a quick meal on the cast iron burner or just enjoy the warmth, which can reach up to 10,000 British thermal units. Push-button ignition and anti-tipping features keep this safe and convenient wherever you go.
- Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Reflective Foam Camping Ground Pad: Even with a good sleeping bag, there’s a risk that your body heat will leech into the ground (i.e., conduction). Stop the process in its tracks with a “closed-cell” foam sleeping pad like this one, which reflects radiated heat back to your body. You’ll get a big return on this modest investment, which weighs in at less than 1 pound, making it an effortless addition to your arsenal.
- Snow Deer 2020 Upgraded Rechargeable Electric Heated Socks: Warm clothing is a category in and of itself, and one that goes well beyond the boundaries of camping. However, these electric socks are simply too cool to pass up. The rechargeable lithium-polymer battery keeps your feet toasty.
Just because the weather starts to chill doesn’t mean you have to. Camping is fun and relatively easy on the bottom line. Small investments and adjustments can put you smack in the middle of a winter wonderland.
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