I lived fulltime out of my 4-door Jeep Wrangler for 3 years. The first two winters, I found myself driving South at the first sign of cold temps. I would spend the winter months around southern California, Arizona and Utah, trying my best to find t-shirt weather. It wasn’t until my third winter on the road that I decided to explore more Northern areas. I actually started checking weather forecast to find fresh snow. Winter always seems to bring the craziest conditions, everything covered in a layer of white and crowds almost nonexistent. There is no better time of year than December through March to visit National Parks.
I have had some of the most popular spots in the US and Canada completely to myself during the off season. Granted, I am walking through snow and ice and have 3+ layers of clothes on, but it’s worth it to me nonetheless. The winter months have slowly become my favorite time of the year to camp and hike. Obviously, the major downside of winter camping is the cold, but having the iKamper Skycamp Mini along with the Insulation Tent has been a big factor in being able to spend more nights out during the winter.
Being able to have a fire every night and running a space heater doesn’t hurt either. Having a tent that sets up in 60 seconds plays a big role in being able to winter camp. I had a traditional rooftop tent for the first two years on the road, and the 10 minutes it would take to set up definitely was discouraging in 15-degree weather. Another extremely important part of winter camping is having the proper gear. This doesn’t mean just having the warmest sleeping bag or proper clothing or food, but making sure you have the recovery gear to be able to self-recover whatever vehicle you are going out with. My winch and traction boards get more use in the few months of winter then the entire rest of the year combined.
I have had to rescue myself from a few less-than-ideal situations in the past, but the most use I get, is pulling out unprepared vehicles. You don’t need a jacked-up adventure rig to get out and go winter camping, but a pair of snow chains and understanding the limitations of where your vehicle can go and how far you can push it, is very important! All in all, I encourage everyone to get out and try a night or two out in the cold for yourself! Maybe plan your first trip around an area that only has a few inches of snow just to get the hang of things and feel comfortable before heading out to heavier areas. A great place to start is a camp spot with a hot springs are two near by!
- Drew Simms
YouTube: Drew Simms