Top 10 ways to scratch your camping itch this winter

The depths of winter may not be peak camping season, but you can still enjoy camping when the days are short and the nights are long.
winter camping saguaro cacti photo

  1. Go winter camping

Winter camping in a truly wintry location requires a shift in your expectations and gear choices. But winter camping is an unforgettable experience. You can see nature in a whole different way—and without worrying about mosquitos or throngs of people. You’ll want to read up on winter camping before trying it to make sure you’re well prepared. Check out these helpful guides from REI, Backpacker, Sierra, and Cool of the Wild.

  1. Drive to a warm(ish) location and go camping

Is camping in the snow and ice a little much for you? Luckily, the southern United States, from Florida to Texas to California, has winter temperatures that are downright pleasant for camping. If you don’t already live in one of those areas, pack up your tent and take a road trip!

  1. Plan an amazing future camping trip

Some special camping trips—like guided rafting trips or a tour of national parks—require lots of advance planning. Take this opportunity to plan your next awesome camping trip for when warm weather returns.

  1. Watch camping movies

Classic camping-themed movies include:

  • Wild
  • Stand by Me
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Great Outdoors
  • The Blair Witch Project (not for the kids!)
  • Into the Wild
  • Without a Paddle
  • Deliverance

  1. Organize, repair, and replace camping gear

Winter is a great time to take stock of your camping gear, as detailed in our post on storing your gear for the off season. Clean up and organize the gear you casually tossed into a dark corner after your last camping trip. Examine your gear for holes, broken zippers, and the like. Either repair the gear yourself or send it out for repairs (one option is Rainy Pass Repair). If you need to replace gear or buy new gear, winter is the best time to find good deals.

  1. Camp at home

If you’re not up for a winter camping adventure in the wild, try a camping “adventure” right at home! One option is to brave your chilly backyard in a tent. Another option is to set up a tent right inside your house. To make it fun, turn down the heat, build a fire in the fireplace, switch off electric lights and set up lanterns, project images of stars on your ceiling with a projector, use an app to play sounds like crickets chirping and frogs croaking, eat mac-n-cheese, make s’mores, and read camping-themed books with your headlamp!

  1. Create a camping photo book

Scroll back through photos of your favorite past camping trips and create a photo book using Shutterfly or a similar service.

  1. Outdoor activities

Daytime activities aren’t quite the same as overnight camping, but you’ll still get a taste of the camping experience when you hike, snowshoe, ice fish, or the like.

  1. Rent an RV or camper van for a road trip

Likewise, though sleeping in a vehicle isn’t the same as tent-camping, a road trip in an RV or a camper van checks many of the same boxes! Outdoorsy offers camper van and RV rentals, and RVshare offers RV rentals.

  1. Read a book about camping

Some much-loved books about camping and the outdoors for adults include:

  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
  • A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
  • The Wilderness Idiot, by Ted Alvarez
  • The Unlikely Thru-Hiker, by Derick Lugo
  • Edge of the Map, by Johanna Garton
  • A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean
  • Deliverance, by James Dickey
  • Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson
  • Stories Behind the Images: Lessons from a Life in Adventure Photography, by Corey Rich
  • Out There: The Wildest Stories from Outside Magazine, by editors of Outside


Great kids’ books related to camping include:

  • Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, by Peggy Parish
  • Bailey Goes Camping, by Kevin Henkes
  • Curious George Goes Camping, by Margret & H.A. Rey
  • The Camping Trip that Changed America, by Barb Rosenstock
  • A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, by Chris Van Dusen
  • When We Go Camping, by Margriet Ruurs
  • The Lost Lake, by Allen Say
  • Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
  • My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
  • The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
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