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  1. #1

    Default Camping in the Wintertime...

    Hey guys!

    Some friends and I were looking into heading out west on a road-trip just after Christmas. As of right now, the itinerary is something like Nashville-->LA (in other words, the straight-shot that is I-40), so through AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, CA, and maybe UT and NV (slight detour). Since we will pretty much be bumming it, camping seems the most cost-effective and logical approach to our overnight stays. I was just wondering if anybody has any experience camping in late December/early January. I'm sure it won't exactly be toasty even during the day, but I'm willing to layer up as long as its reasonable.

    I also noticed a lot of campgrounds shut down after October or so, but from what I've found, there should still be plenty open that time of year.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default This is prime time

    Quote Originally Posted by The Yans View Post
    Since we will pretty much be bumming it, camping seems the most cost-effective and logical approach to our overnight stays.
    There are a number of regulars here who ONLY camp on road trips. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Campgrounds in the southern and southwestern states will, for the most part, be fully open in the winter months. Some of the USFS campgrounds will be closed (but this is money issue -- not one related to weather). If you have summertime camping gear you will be fine -- but you should consider getting 4-season sleeping bags.

    Larrison, Judy and Midwest Michael are probably the most active campers herein. You might want to read some of their posts on camping. Here is a thread with some great suggestions from Larrison & Judy for camping gear. And here is a list of threads where several of us have shared our tips for road trip gear.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-18-2007 at 02:04 PM. Reason: added some resource links

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Brrrrrrrr...camping in winter!

    I get cold at night. Even in the summer I often like an extra blanket. But I'm talking PNW weather, not the weather typically found in the southern part of the country in the summer.

    I agree with Mark that a 4-season sleeping bag would be great for winter camping. But they're pricey. A couple of good, heavy blankets, especially if they're wool ones (try an Army-Navy surplus store for good prices for these). Lay one on top of your sleeping pad for more insulation between you and the ground. And another on top of you. This should make you as toasty as you would be in a good 4-season sleeping bag and cost you less to purchase.

    I've never done this but, awhile back, a friend that winter camps more than I do told me he puts cardboard under his sleeping pad. He claims this really helps with insulation as well. Cheap and worth a try. He just takes a big box, cuts one corner open, and then folds it on the folds so it lasts awhile.

    I expect you'll see more rain this time of year so make sure your tent is water-tight. You can buy cheap rain sealant at any camping supply store.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default staying warm

    I will say that in my experience winter camping, or even early spring/late fall camping, proper gear is key. Unless you add some extra insulation, like Judy's ideas, I would not recommend using summer time gear for winter camping, even in the south. It can still get quite cold at night, and in my opinion, there are few things worse than waking up and not being able to sleep because you are just too darn cold (and I'm speaking from experience on that one)

    A good sleeping pad is very important, as you loose much of your heat to the ground. I also have a 0 degree sleeping bag that I use for all of my shoulder season camping, and after using it, I wouldn't dare use anything else. I've gone camping with friends in April, and slept perfectly, why my friend complained all day the next day about how miserable they were because they were using summer gear.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Miserable

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    because they were using summer gear.
    I mis-wrote -- good catch. I believe in being ready for minus-35 degrees 365 days a year - so all of my summer gear is actually serious 4-season gear. I don't like to get cold....


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