Winter Overlanding: Camping With Your Vehicle

By Lori Straus

Fluffy, white snow; heavenly blue skies; and the bright sun that warms your face even when it’s -20°C outside. Maybe you’re planning to go skiing, hiking, or sight-seeing on your camping trip. Winter overlanding requires some precautions. In this blog post, I’ll take you through a few of them.

Plan Your Trip—Without Your PhoneRed Car & Trailer Overlanding

Don’t expect your phone to get you out of all predicaments when winter overlanding. Know where you can refuel, buy supplies, and get food. Take along print copies of a first-aid manual, relevant maps, emergency list, flares, and a compass. Also, pack a proper outdoor emergency kit.

Join groups where people who frequently camp in the winter hang out. Not only can members in these groups tell you what not to do, they can also share advice from their own experiences. For example, maybe they know a beautiful but relatively unknown location that you could explore.

Have the Proper Shelter With You

Make sure your overlanding tent is suited for the weather of your destination. If you’re new to overlanding in the winter, don’t just buy from Kijiji. Do some research and make an informed decision before you buy your tent.

If you’re nervous about living outside in -20°C weather with only a thick, canvas shelter between you and Jack Frost, consider campgrounds or provincial parks that have yurts. Algonquin Park, for example, has yurts that you can rent. Most come with one electrical socket and electric heat. However, you must do all cooking outside. Granted, it may not feel like overlanding in the winter, but if this fear is keeping you from starting, consider making yourself a concession.

Be Prepared Against the Cold

You’ve already packed your vehicle’s winter emergency kit, right? Next, pack for your winter overlanding trip consciously: You’ll be packing up frequently, and for hiking trips, you’ll be carrying your baggage with you. But don’t be afraid to pack extra hats, scarves, mitts, socks, boots, undershirts, and underwear. Wool and synthetics, not cotton, because cotton doesn’t keep you warm when you’re wet.

You can also pack heating pads that begin producing heat when exposed to the air. Pay attention to how quickly and strongly they heat up, because they can be too hot against skin. In that case, make sure a layer of cloth is between the pad and your skin.

And last: update yourself on first-aid procedures for cold-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia. This is even more important if you’re hiking out in back country where emergency services can take a while to get to you (after you’ve needed a while to reach them).

Camping in the winter can be exactly what you need to get away from everyday life: communing with nature, spending time with family and close friends, or just taking a break. But don’t get swept up by the gorgeous pictures you see online and not plan for when things don’t look like those pictures: pack your vehicle properly, plan ahead, and prepare for emergencies. You’ll enjoy your overlanding so much more knowing you’ll be ready in case an emergency happens.

[LS1]Link to article on rooftop and truck tents

[LS2]Link to article on winter emergency kit