Winter camping is camping which takes place in winter weather; most people are talking specifically about snow camping when they mention winter camping, although it can also refer more generally to camping in cooler conditions. There are a number of reasons to go winter camping, and many people find it quite enjoyable, especially if they are already experienced hikers, backpackers, or campers. However, the colder weather can also make a camping trip more dangerous, and it is important to fully prepare before going out on a winter camping trip.
Just like summer camping, winter camping offers a number of activities in addition to the camping itself. In areas with snow, campers can go skiing, climbing, snowshoeing, or ice skating, and some people enjoy constructing insulating structures from snow, or just horsing around in the snow. A camping trip is often accompanied by hiking, although campers generally travel less far than they do in the summer, since conditions like the amount of daylight available and the weather can cut down on travel distances.
For people who enjoy camping without distractions, popular recreation areas are much less crowded in the winter, and often winter campers find themselves alone. Views are also unobstructed by leaves and plants in areas with deciduous vegetation, and some people find winter weather itself enjoyable and fun to be out in. Winter campers also do not contend with insect visitors.
Colder weather means more preparation. Winter campers should be sure that they have layers of material which will wick body moisture away while keeping them warm; cotton is a poor choice for winter camping, since it absorbs moisture. Winter campers also need sleeping bags which are rated for extremely cold weather, along with well insulated tents and ample food supplies. Other basic camping tools like cook stoves, lanterns, and so forth are also necessary.
While winter backpacking and camping can be quite enjoyable, unpredictable weather conditions are also very dangerous. Winter hikers and campers should always check on weather reports before they leave, and a small weather radio is an excellent tool to bring along. If possible, campers should also register their plans with a ranger and leave an itinerary behind with friends, in case something happens. Some people find a guided winter camping trip more enjoyable for their first expedition, so that they can get tips from an experienced guide before adventuring on their own.