The Non-Camper’s Guide to Winter Camping

Elena, 32, had just moved back to her hometown of Austin after living in New York for ten years. Before leaving the Northeast, she and her boyfriend took one last camping trip to Clarence Fanistock State Park in upstate New York in November.

"There's usually not a lot of people around, which is nice," Elena tells Bustle about cold weather camping. “Super quiet.”

Another benefit? She said there weren't any mosquitoes or bugs around either. "We just drank whiskey and had a really nice, leisurely walk in nature." She only saw one other group of people nearby, which made the trip even more relaxing. “If there are more people around, it won’t feel so secluded.”

Campgrounds and national parks like Joshua Tree National Park in California, the Catskill Mountains in New York State, and those in and around the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina, are among the 2020 novice and A popular destination for regular campers, as space is one of the favorite destinations for campers. The biggest benefit for tourist destinations during the epidemic. While you might not automatically think of camping when you're dreaming of a winter vacation (especially if you've never been before), there are plenty of safe options to consider whether you're seeking warmer weather or bathing yourself. And, during the colder months of the off-season, fewer people are open at the campgrounds, which means more space for you and those in quarantine.

camping in car

Car camping is an option if you have the right size vehicle, if you prefer a road trip vacation, or if you want to travel to warmer parts of the country. Stephanie, 26, and her boyfriend were planning a long trip from their home in San Francisco, California, after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We drove to Los Angeles first and then headed to Joshua Tree National Park. Our goal was to visit the Grand Canyon," she told Busy. “In between, we saw Sedona, Arizona, Lake Havasu — which was like a rest stop — and saw all the different scenery along Route 66 where there were crazy shops and restaurants.”

They stayed at campgrounds through the Bureau of Land Management, which offers a variety of camping options on public lands ranging from free to a small fee, and managed to find free campsites.

“This is our first winter camping trip,” she said. They had an air mattress that fit a small SUV, which she said was very comfortable, and a two-person sleeping bag that was perfect for 30-degree weather. "We learned there that perhaps individual sleeping bags could be made to reduce the amount of heat escaping, and that zero-degree ratings were best."

She also recommends putting covers on your car windows, which not only blocks light so you can sleep after sunrise, but also keeps more heat in the car. Although they didn't use them on their trip, she said they will use them on their next trip.

"I think the best thing about road trips and sleeping in your car is being able to stop anywhere," she said. “We stuck to the master plan, but knowing we could drive anywhere and see things we might never see again was my favorite part.”

cold weather camping

Natasha, 31, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, decided to try cold-weather camping with her husband last October after backpacking with a group of women. "After my trip, he went out and bought all the camping stuff and we wanted to try it at least once before the season was over," she tells Bustle.

"We went to Blue Mound State Park, which is about 30 minutes away, just to try out our equipment, but it was a very cold night," she said. "Around 1am we decided to throw in the towel and drive home."

While they have a three-season tent, an inflatable sleeping pad, sleeping bags for 15- and 20-degree weather, and layers to sleep on, Natasha knows exactly what she'll do differently on her next winter trip practice.

"I think we need another thin layer of foam sleeping pads to help prevent our heat from getting into the ground," she said. She later bought one, although they may wait until spring before going out.

Other winter camping options

If heat and a roof are non-negotiables, but you still want to immerse yourself in the outdoors and get as far away from the world as possible, then an option like Gather Greene in Upstate New York's Hudson Valley is the way to go. Their 17 cabins are slightly wider than the king-size beds inside, have bathrooms, showers and mini-fridges, and have full glass walls overlooking the Berkshire Mountains.

Joshua Tree Acres has a fleet of airstreams available for rent, with a variety of glamping options in Asheville, North Carolina—from yurts or glamping tents to treehouses—without having to build your own accommodation Provide space and views.

Packing for your camping trip

No matter which type of camping you think is best for you, the nature of winter camping requires a careful plan. You'll also want to make sure you check the rules, restrictions and implications of the pandemic before you travel.

Elena recommends dividing your list among campers to make sure all your bases are covered. “Whenever we go camping, I’m always in charge of the cooking aspect,” she said. Her cast iron skillet is a must. “It works for everything! I make Dutch babies for breakfast and also cook some kind of fruit in a skillet. I usually make steak and caramelized onions for dinner and I always bring foil and it’s great for wrapping veggies and serving them directly Throw it over the coals.”

And, her campground cooking expert tip: "If you make s'mores on a stick, you're missing out on smoking s'mores. Wrap everything in foil and place over the coals—too Delicious!”

Stephanie says there's one thing that others might not consider an absolute necessity, but brings her the most comfort - her skincare routine. "When I wake up, I just feel sick." She carries a small Sephora cleansing pad with her to wash her face and exfoliate. Additionally, women say that whether you're out in the cold or camping in the desert, moisturizer, lip balm, and sunscreen are absolute must-haves for your trip.

Winter camping essentials

No matter what your camping trip involves, being responsible and respectful of the sites you stay at, packing efficiently, and staying warm are the right choices. No matter what type of camping trip you decide to embark on, here are the things to bring.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, if you purchase a product through a link in this article, we may receive a share of the sale.

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Body and Mind Shower Gel Travel Size Bath Culture

Women's Kaha Gore-TexHoka 11

Image Skin Care Prevention + Trial Kit The Beauty Place

Carhartt Women's Medium Brown Merino Wool Blend Bamboo Wayker Crew Socks Home Depot

Stoked Lip & Face BalmStoked Goods

Calendula Rose CBD Frost Dogwood Botanicals

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Reserve Bar