A few helpful tips for camping in December

by | Dec 4, 2023 | Weather

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Camping in December comes with its own set of challenges and rewards.

You’re trading in buzzing crowds for the tranquil silence of a winter wonderland.

With the right planning, you can enjoy the brisk beauty without the frostbite.

Think toasty fires, warm drinks, and serene landscapes dusted with snow.

Seasonal conditions to expect

Snow on a cliff over an open lake

When gearing up for December camping, you’ll face a range of weather patterns and daylight hours.

Variable temperatures (Mild to extreme cold)

December can bring a spectrum of temperatures, from mildly chilly afternoons to freezing nights.

It’s key to check the forecast for your specific location and prepare for sudden drops in temperature.

In the meantime. here are some of our weather guides to check out:

Mixed precipitation

You might encounter rain, sleet, snow, or hail.

Always have waterproof gear handy and be ready for quick weather changes.

Find out how to set up a tent in the rain or snow.

Wet, slushy, or frozen terrain

Be prepared for a mix of slippery and solid ground.

Having footwear that provides good traction and is waterproof will make navigating these conditions easier.

Partially frozen bodies of water

Lakes and rivers may begin to ice over in this month.

Always test the thickness of ice before crossing and if you’re unsure, don’t take the risk.

Minimal daylight hours

You’ll have fewer daylight hours, which means more time spent in the dark.
Pack enough lighting equipment, like headlamps, and plan your activities to make the most of the daylight.

Make the most of December camping

December camping can be a refreshing adventure with the right preparations. Here’s how you can enjoy the winter landscape to the fullest.

Consider booking frontcountry campgrounds

A snowy campsite in winter

Backcountry camping is tricky in December because there isn’t always enough snow to bring a sled or pulk, and lakes aren’t fully frozen over yet to allow for safe travel.

An easy workaround for this is to book a frontcountry campground that stays open in winter.

We recently did this in December, and it was a blast.

In addition to being safer travel-wise, they’re far less busy in December and offer convenient access to amenities.

You’ll also be closer to your vehicle for any extra supplies.

Book an extended trip over the holiday season

Taking a longer trip during the holidays gives you time to relax and explore.

Many campgrounds are less crowded, offering a more serene experience.

Use a hot tent and wood stove

A hot tent with snow

Investing in a hot tent with a wood stove keeps you warm and toasty.

It’s a game-changer for comfortable winter camping.

Bring solar-powered holiday lights

A hot tent decorated with holiday lights

Solar-powered lights create a festive atmosphere at your campsite.

They’re also eco-friendly and easy to set up.

Try holiday-inspired meals and beverages

A mug of hot chocolate inside a hot tent

Bring ingredients for holiday favourites like hot cocoa or spiced cider.

Warm meals and drinks will keep your spirits high.

Go on winter hikes during the day

Hiking during the day is a great way to stay active. Dress in layers and enjoy the stillness of winter woods.

Star gaze or look for northern lights at night

Clear winter nights are perfect for stargazing or catching the northern lights. Pack a thermos of tea and enjoy the sky’s natural wonders.

Stay safe

When camping in December, staying safe means being prepared for harsh winter conditions.

Use winter gear

A °C expedition sleeping bag

Invest in a quality tent designed for winter conditions.

Make sure it can withstand snow loads and gusty winds.

Bring a sleeping bag with an appropriate temperature rating and an insulated sleeping pad to minimize heat loss.

Wear appropriate layers

Wearing layers of winter clothing in the mountains

Begin with moisture-wicking thermal underwear. Add mid-layers such as fleece or wool for insulation, and use a waterproof and windproof shell layer.

Don’t forget warm socks, gloves, a hat, and a scarf or neck gaiter.

Here’s how to dress in layers for cold weather.

Beware of wildlife

A bear paw footprint in the snow

Some animals are active in winter and may pose risks.

Bears are one of those animals.

Even though they’re supposed to hibernate, milder winters can cause them to stay out later—or not hibernate at all.

Be sure to store food securely and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

More about seasonal camping:

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About Us

Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

Read more about our story.