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Get All the Info You Need on Winter Camping in the Adirondacks

Why Camp in the Winter, Day VS Night Camping, Where to Camp & More

There's nothing quite like camping in the Adirondacks in winter. Sounds crazy? It isn't! Winter camping can be every bit as enjoyable (if not more) as summer camping as long as you're well-informed and prepared.

Below, our Adirondack winter camping tips are designed to help you do just that - get informed and prepared for your next winter camping trip.

a tent in the snow

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Why Camp in the Winter?

First, let's examine some of the benefits that camping during this chilly time of year can bring:
  • Winter camping offers even more solitude than you may find during any of the other seasons because there are fewer people in the woods.
  • Snow cover can actually make hiking through some terrains easier than during the warmer months, when the ground may be muddy and the foliage dense.
  • Iced-over lakes and bodies of water can make reaching areas that would normally be 10+ miles to hike around easier. Understand and keep in mind these ice safety tips before venturing out onto any frozen body of water.
  • The beauty of the winter wilderness in the Adirondacks is unsurpassed.

Day Trips Versus Overnight?

  • Your first winter camping trip in the Adirondacks should actually be a day trip that includes at least one meal. This allows for acclimation to the cold weather along with a better understanding of the necessary equipment, such as snowshoes or crampons.
  • Overnight trips require more equipment, such as sleeping bags and tents that can stand up to cold and wind. Campers need to be prepared to carry this extra equipment.
  • Overnight trips are much colder, so campers need to dress accordingly.
  • No amount of preparation can prepare you for what you don't know. Waterproof boots may not be so waterproof. Your firemaking skills may be rusty. Your clothing choices may need to be reconsidered. You don't want to discover all this when you are wet, cold, and too far in to hike out before dark.
  • When camping with experienced winter campers, there is a better understanding of what is expected and how long/far the group should go. Remember that days are shorter during the winter season.

Where Will You be Hiking/Camping?

While the Adirondacks offer many great places to camp in the winter, you do not have to travel far to enjoy all the benefits of winter camping.
  • The best place to begin is your backyard, especially if you have children involved. By camping in your backyard (or close to home), the experience is there, and you'll discover if you have the right equipment for cold weather.
  • The next step is to go farther away by hiking into the woods, but not miles in. This helps you experience hiking with a few more supplies than if you were in the comfort of your own backyard.
  • Any place you have/would camp in the summer is great to camp in the winter because it'll be a familiar place. Plus, you can snowshoe to places you would not normally be able to hike.

Shelter Alternatives for Winter Camping

There are a few winter camping shelter alternatives: a snow cave, a quinzee, an igloo, an Adirondack lean-to, a tent or hot tent, or a tarp.
  • A snow cave, a quinzee, and an igloo are all made of snow, and the directions to make them can be found online.
  • The Adirondack lean-to is a structure already found on the premises throughout different camp areas in the Adirondacks. It is a three-sided log structure with an overhanging roof.
  • While these are all options for winter camping, a tent could still be the best solution. A tent, because of its closed structure, keeps all the body heat inside.

Tips of the Trade

Here are some recommended tips by experienced winter campers:
  • No cotton clothing. Cotton absorbs sweat/water, and due to the cold weather, will freeze. It will not dry. Wool or fleece are much better alternatives.
  • Check out our What to Wear Guide for more tips on winter clothing!
  • Bring boot liners in your tent overnight to keep them dry and warm.
  • Put boiling water in a Nalgene-type water bottle and place in the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm.
  • A higher calorie intake while winter hiking/camping is suggested. This keeps your body working and keeps your core temperature higher.
  • Rather than spending a lot of money on attire by name brands, anything that is made of 100% wool can provide very similar results.
  • Helpful items you might not think to bring:
    • A multi-purpose tool (like a Swiss Army Knife)
    • Rice or freeze-dried food
    • Lighters and matches
    • Small cooking pot
    • Duct tape
    • Steel wire
    • Hand warmers

Of course, don't forget to have fun while winter camping in the Adirondacks.

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