Winter Camping In Canada: Tips For Cold-Weather Adventures

Nov 20, 2023

Travel Guides

There are many reasons to travel to Canada in winter. You can set off to iconic mountain resorts, visit a Christmas market, or spend time at an ice rink. At the same time, even more adventures await you if you are ready for winter camping. 

The list of perfect cold-weather destinations in Canada is simply endless. Snow-covered Banff National Park in Alberta, untouched nature in the Northwest Territories, and mind-blowing Mont-Tremblant in Quebec to name a few. You will certainly appreciate the silent beauty of the snowy forest in February and January, especially at sunset or dawn. 

So, it would be great to pick up a car rental in Toronto and go towards a winter fairy tale. A large selection of Toronto Airport car rental deals allows you to find the perfect vehicle for your needs. If you are traveling with family or friends, consider a more spacious option – car rental for 7 people will be a balanced solution for your icy ride. 

However, winter camping in Canada is as dangerous as it’s exciting. Low temperatures can cause hypothermia and the most severe consequences for your body. Thus, such experience requires a particularly careful approach.

Here are a few cold-weather adventure tips to keep in mind before embarking on such an outing. 

1. Use a layered clothing strategy 

When it’s hot during the day and cold at night, you need to carry a variety of outfits with you to stay comfortable at all times. Layering is one of the best ways to stay dry and warm without overheating. 

Layering is an art and once you master it, you can easily regulate your body temperature depending on your activity level and weather changes. Using layers correctly allows you to add or subtract layers throughout the day so you feel comfortable no matter what. 

Start with wool or synthetic thermal underwear. Also, avoid cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and loses all its insulating properties when you sweat, making you feel much colder. The job of thermal underwear is to wick sweat away from your body and keep you dry and warm. 

Thus, apply insulating layers such as a fleece, light down jacket, or synthetic jacket as your middle layer to help keep you warm. The greater the middle layer retains heat, the better. Finally, cover the previous two layers with a windproof jacket with a waterproof membrane to keep you warm. 

The outer layer also serves to remove moisture evaporated from the body. Don’t skimp on a high-quality outer layer if you expect to encounter some serious wind and rain. If it doesn’t cope with its functions, you can become seriously hypothermic.

Use a layered clothing strategy 

2. Make sure your sleeping bag can handle low temperatures 

Canadian winter camping expeditions require a sleeping bag – this is the golden rule for a hassle-free overnight stay. The temperature label on your sleeping bag can be confusing. For example, if your sleeping bag can withstand +5°C, this doesn’t guarantee that you will feel warm at +5°C. The fact is that sleeping bags have two temperature conditions: a temperature at which a tourist should feel comfortable, and a lower temperature limit at which a sleeping man should feel comfortable. 

Temperature values are approximate and depend on multiple factors. Just in case, take a sleeping bag rated for temperatures 5–10°C below expected degrees. You can also add an extra blanket over your sleeping bag to help keep you warm.

3. Select and prepare a place to pitch your tent 

Setting up a camp in winter is much more difficult than in summer, so first of all, plan your time correctly – you should arrive at the overnight site at least 30 minutes before sunset. Then, choose the right campsite, prepare it, and set up the tent. Here are some important snow camping hacks to follow. 

  • Place a tent in a sparse forest, on the edge, in a gentle depression between ridges 
  • Remove snow from the area of the tent + 0.5 m around, remove the top layers or clear to the ground if the snow is not deep 
  • Build snow walls around the camp, especially in open areas 
  • Use special elongated winter pegs, which can be replaced with trekking poles 
  • Make an entry from the leeward side

4. Bring all your essentials into the tent

Be sure to bring shoes, a backpack with food, a first aid kit and hygiene products, and gas cylinders inside the tent. Plus, put things like your phone and power bank in your sleeping bag. This way you will better conserve charge. If your trekking socks are wet, dry them too. 

 Bring all your essentials into the tent

5. Ventilate your tent

The only thing worse than waking up frozen on a hike is waking up cold and wet. It may seem counterintuitive, but opening tent windows for cross-ventilation is among the top priority cold-weather camping essentials. How does it work? When warm, moist air in your tent or RV meets cold surfaces such as tent walls or car windows, condensation occurs. Small droplets of water form and everything becomes wet. Therefore, ensure air circulation in your tent and prevent condensation by opening entrances and windows slightly.

6. Warm up before going to sleep

Before you go to bed, warm yourself by the fire or take a walk – whatever you can to warm up. Having a warm drink or snack before bed can also help keep you warm since the process of digestion warms you up from the inside. Just try not to sweat. Wet clothing quickly lowers your body temperature and can contribute to condensation in your tent or camper. Avoid storing wet clothes in the sleeping area and always change into dry clothes before going to sleep.

7. Go to sleep in a dry change of clothes 

Advice on how to sleep in a sleeping bag goes to one extreme or the other: some say to wear everything you can, others recommend sleeping in just your underwear. And the correct option is in the middle. 

Winter survival techniques claim that thermal underwear is optimal for sleeping in a tent, ideally if it contains merino wool. You need to wear socks on your feet (maybe two pairs), thin gloves on your hands, and a thin hat and/or buff on your head. Provided that the sleeping bag and mat are suitable for the weather, this set will often be sufficient. If not, you can insulate yourself additionally. 

Important! All sleepwear should be dry. Thus, be sure to change into a spare set before going to bed, and store it in a waterproof bag while hiking.

Go to sleep in a dry change of clothes 

8. Use heating pads 

A heating pad is definitely a must-have on a winter hike! That’s why we advise you to stock up on such items. They are lightweight, easy to use, and provide gentle heat (about 50°C). You can choose among the following options: 

  • Chemical heating pads. They are disposable, with enough heat to last all night and even in the morning (about 12 hours overall). 
  • Reusable heating pads. Such items can radiate heat for about 2 hours. Then, you need to charge it by simply boiling it in water. A more advanced option is electronic heating pads with USB charging.

Ultimately, use our winter survival techniques for your camping trip to Canada. Also, don’t forget to adjust your plans to the current weather. The forecast can be changeable during the off-season, and you should be prepared for everything. This is especially important when traveling in mountainous areas, where rain and snow can make roads impassable.

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Arnab is a passionate blogger. He shares sentient blogs on topics like travel, health, lifestyle etc. If you want to read refulgent blogs so please follow Tour And Travel Blog.

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