Camping isn’t reserved for spring and summer. It may be an Aussie institution to pack a trailer and spend a holiday or three by the beach, but there’s more to see in this wide country than a sprawling, salty coastline.
We know, camping in the cold is a bit intimidating - what should you take, where should you go, are you really equipped for this experience? To answer your three key questions, you should go anywhere the open road takes you; we’ll make sure you’re kitted out completely before you leave and don’t worry, these words are dedicated to ensuring you pack exactly what you need to enjoy yourself. Your eyes don’t deceive you - by the end of this piece, you’ll be keen to make winter camping an annual tradition. Need to find a van or camper for your winter adventure? Go searching here.
Let's Talk Winter Camping Gear
You can never have too much camping gear. Preparation is the key to enjoying your time away in the middle months, from finding the right blankets to considering cooking options, especially if you’re a vintage adventurer, making it work without a helping hand from a Camplify caravan. Although conditions may be favourable when you roll on out, the weather has a habit of doing what you least expect - including these winter camping accessories in your stash will save your holiday from sinking into suck territory.
It sounds obvious, a roof and four walls of some sort are obligatory in the cooler months,but caravans deliver different experience than old fashioned tents and camper trailers. Let’s be clear, we’re not saying you shouldn’t camp in the cold without a rolling, wheeling mobile home, but your final decision on this step will affect what you need from here on in.
- Borrow or buy a pole and peg tent. Book a fixed location. Set up camp manually after driving so many kilometres in the family car.
- Sleep off the ground with a snug as a bug camper trailer. Sizes vary, so keep your final head count in mind. Are you taking the kids? Will the family dog come along?
- Make sure everybody is taken care of and hire a campervan through Camplify. It won’t matter if the firewood gets soggy with an updated stovetop inside!
What if you’re tempted to pitch a pole and peg tent?
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than an authentic, back-to-nature camping experience.
There’s something to be said for keeping it simple. Even if you intend to spend most of your nights in a caravan or even a cabin, make sure the tent you take along is ready to withstand the harsh conditions winter can bring. Rain, wind and very low temperatures are nothing to a four or five season tent, keeping campers insulated against the elements. Snow-ready versions can be difficult to erect the first few times - why not get in some practice in the days leading up to your adventure?
Speaking of sleeping, what should you pack?
Nobody wants to lose out on a solid night's sleep, least of all the budding camper. Ensure you achieve a restful snooze every night by investing in an all-seasons sleeping bag with a warm filler like down for toasty insulation. Try to resist the pull of an air-filled mattress - not only will you end up sleeping on the ground 5 times out of 10, a slimline self-inflating mattress provide superior comfort overall. Some prefer to go the whole nine yards and invest in a heating pad in addition to the bag and mattress, but it really depends on where you’re going camping? Will it plummet below 12 degrees at night? If the answer is yes, it may be worth investigating this addition.
What should you wear?
Layers. A lot of layers. Veteran campers recommend a three layer system, beginning with a thin thermal base layer, adding a lightweight jumper for insulation and finishing it off with a weather-proof shell. Look for naturally wicking fabrics for both the base and mid layers - you want any moisture drawn away from your skin quickly. When buying your final, weather-ready layer, be on the look out for false promises and sales tactics - ultimately, syntehtic materials like Goretex and Polartec are safe bets, guaranteeing a product you’ll use more than once. Your daily runs or walks will never be limited by threatening weather again!
Extra Tip: Zips will make your life a lot easier, as mid and shell layers can be stripped away or slipped on as weather demands without much hassle.
Wait, What if it’s Snowing?
We love the smell of fresh powder on the ground and the promise of slamming ski conditions and we know you will too. Maybe you’re keen to build a snowman or you’d like to indulge the family in a snowball fight… ski, snowball or snowman, make sure you’re wearing the right clothes. The base and mid-layers haven’t changed, so spending a little more on getting those right will be extremely valuable down the track - you’ll use one or both in autumn and spring too!
After you’ve established a serviceable foundation, pull on an insulating winter jacket (make sure it’s not made from a material like down or cotton) before finishing off your torso with a synthetic shell and warm gloves and a beanie. Your legs need the same toasted feeling too, so pick up soft shell waterproof pants with a resistance outer barrier. Hard shells do insulate more effectively but the material isn’t very breathable! Last but not least, never underestimate the value of a good pair (or several pairs) merino wool socks - aim for one pair for each day you’re in the snow.
What about meals?
Is that your stomach rumbling? Research food options ahead of time and figure out what you’ll chow down on for each meal. Are you camping near a town? Are there affordable restaurants you’d like to try or are you planning a visit to a local supermarket every few days? Even if you’ve considered the best alternatives for your belly, it doesn’t hurt to pack quick-to-eat nut and muesli bars for instant energy, pre-popped popcorn for salty cravings and dried fruit or jerky for nutritious but delicious snacks. If you’re hoping to cook every night on portable, single canister stove, ensure your mobile pantry contains three meals a day per person, with room for extras!
Your Mini Menu Guide
Lay out each meal per person, per day to make sure it’s all there before you leave. But what should you make? Veggie fried rice is always a favourite and filling to boot; mix it up with a stir-fry or celebrate pasta as the essential staple we all know it is. Loaded potatoes are a good bet and taste amazing cooked in foil and campfire coals or, if you’re a breakfast kind of person, you can’t go past pancakes with a delicious Canadian syrup or a hearty bowl of porridge!
Did you know?
Campers burn double the calories in cold conditions than their summer seeking friends, provided they’re keeping active all day. We’re not sure how much energy you’d expend chilling around the campfire with a mug of hot chocolate, but we wouldn’t blame you if you’re excited to find out!
Stuff You’ve Forgotten to Think About…
Now we’ve covered the big stuff - where you’re sleeping, what you’re wearing and what you should eat for dinner - let’s turn our attention to the little bits and bobs that often lay forgotten until you’re 100 kilometres from home. Do you have these must-haves on your list already?
- First aid kit
- Lip balm
- Water bottles
- Spare set of clothes in a drybag
- Cooking utensils
- Cooking pot/pan
- Spare cash
- Waterproof matches
- Multi-tool knife
- Can opener
- Crockery and cutlery
- Spare tarp and ties
- Toilet paper
- Ziplock bags for storing toilet paper
- Duct Tape
- Charged spare phone with loaded credit in case of emergencies
- Pen and paper
The Big List: Winter Camping Must-Haves According to People Who Have Done it Before
Stay Warm and Dry
- 4-5 season tent
- Camper trailer
- Self-inflating mattress
- Heated mattress pad
- Tarps and ties
- Winter sleeping bag
- Weatherproof jacket
- Weatherproof pants
- Warm mid-layer clothes
- Insulated down vest
- Thermals, including underwear
- Weatherproof gloves
- Thick socks
- Hiking Shoes or boots
Light, Heat and Cooking
- Waterproof matches
- Camping lantern
- Spare lantern batteries
- Camping stove with liquid fuel canisters
- Pots and pans
- Utensils, cutlery, bowls
- Griddle iron
- Food and snacks, including just-in-case meals
- Hire a caravan with Camplify
Safety and Sanitation Essentials
- Insect repellant
- First aid kit
- Sanitary hand wash
- Shovel or snow shovel
- Duct tape
- Toilet paper
- Porta-potty (if required)
- Toilet shovel
- Larger water container
- Water purification tablets
- Thermal reflective blanket
- Spare money
- Backup plan in case your original site doesn’t work out
- Fridge or esky
- Camping table
- Camping chairs
- Dry bags
- Multi-purpose knife
- Water bottles
Electronics and Navigation
- GPS and/or maps
- Vehicle recovery equipment, spare tyre, jumper leads and jack.
- Satellite phone (if you’re going out bush)
- Phone and solar-powered battery charger
We know, without the comfort and security of a caravan, winter camping sounds like a lot. Make it easy with Camplify and connect with our network of proud and accommodating Van Lifers. Not only will you see more of Australia on your days off, but you’ll also discover a side of the country summer holiday-makers don’t experience.
But who are Camplify? We’re like AirBnB on wheels.
Essentially, we provide a unique sharing service where owners of caravans, camper trailers, motorhomes, and campervans list their RV for hire while not in use. As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning - without having to own one yourself.
Psst… do you own a caravan, we’ve good a perk or two for you as well.
As an owner, you could earn over $10,000 annually instead of having your RV just sitting around while you’re not using it.
To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV,
register today here.