Winter camping essentials

Winters in Indiana can be pretty brutal, but that shouldn’t be enough to stop you from venturing out on a weekend hiking trip. Sure, most Hoosier state parks offer cabins and inns for your time in between the trails, but where’s the adventure in that? If you’re looking to make the most of your weekend out among the trees and blankets of white snow, you might as well go all-in. But don’t forget these five extra essentials you’ll need for the below-freezing temperatures.

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  1. Extra blankets
    • This might seem pretty obvious, and you might actually want to invest in a thermal sleeping bag in addition to the extra few pounds of comforters and sheets stacked on top of you like a seven-layer burrito. But remember, what’s underneath you while you sleep is just as important. Folding some blankets in between your sleeping pad and the cold, frozen ground will help to keep your sleeping quarters warmer and cozier.
  2. Portable stove
    • Campfires are awesome – no camping trip really feels right without the sound of wood crackling just outside your tent. But in the wintertime, your body isn’t used to the drastic temperature difference between your body and the heat from the flames. The next best thing is a portable camping stove. These babies are light, durable, and are great for warming up food and water. But please – do not cook in the tent; take it outside people.
  3. Accessible layers
    • It’s important to stay as dry as possible when you’re out hiking, or else you’re going to be a wet and cold mess when you return to your campsite. Wear layers for warmth, but also make sure each piece of clothing is easily available to shed off to avoid sweating in the middle of a long trek. Carry your backpack with you, and when you start to feel your body perspire, take a break and throw a layer into the sack. Most winter hikers wear a polyester or sweat-wicking undershirt, maybe a long-sleeve shirt or sweater, and a winter coat. You’ll be surprised how quickly you warm up when you’re moving.
  4. Tarps
    • Again, this is for both above and below you. A rain fly will help to reduce condensation inside your tent (make sure to pack enough stakes), while a tarp underneath your shelter will further separate you from the frozen earth.
  5. Butter
    • Seriously, put it in everything. Your morning oatmeal, your rice and beans, between your sandwiches; everything. Butter has that high fat content you want to keep your stomach busy for a good few hours after each meal. It’ll keep you warmer, and give you that extra bit of energy in the morning to step outside and take on the elements.

Of course, this list is nowhere nearĀ comprehensive, but it’ll get you started. Remember, planning goes a long way for any adventure, especially in the wintertime. So take your time, think things through, but don’t be afraid to step out in the snow and seize the beauty of an Indiana winter.

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