First Time Winter Camping---Clothing help

6:03 p.m. on December 29, 2009 (EST)
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55 forum posts

Hello everyone,

Near the end of january I will be going on a snowshoeing trip for 1 or 2 nights out. This is my first time winter camping, and I'm having a bit of trouble on what clothing to choose, and what clothing I will need. In addition, what layering system would be best to use while actually snowshoeing, and while just sitting around camp cooking/sleeping.


-Eric D.

3:57 p.m. on December 30, 2009 (EST)
Jim S
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757 forum posts


Please tell us where you are going, temperature and humidity in area, altitude and terrain. Will you cook on a camp fire or a stove and what warm clothes do you already have?

Jim S

4:50 p.m. on December 30, 2009 (EST)
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3 forum posts

I've found hot chilly's pepperskins to be a very reliable base layer while snow camping. Depending on the model, they can range from 25-35 per top/bottom, coming to about 70 for a full set. They're comfortable, and I've been snow camping using these and a pair of lightly insulated snow pants with a couple t-shirt layers and snow jacket combo and felt fine between 0 and 30 degrees. Below that (or at night) multiple layers were necessary.

I'd recommend using the thickest wool socks you can find, and bringing at least 3 pairs. They'll keep you warm even if they get wet.

Don't forget your sleeping pad! :)

10:55 p.m. on January 1, 2010 (EST)
Tom D
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1,902 forum posts

Eric, There are a number of threads here already that will answer your question in detail. Use the search engine at the top of the page to find them. I have my clothing listed in one of them as do several other members. You can find lists on the net on other sites as well using terms like "winter camping" to find them.

In general, you want a base layer, an outer layer, a mid layer and an insulating layer that will cover the temp range you will be in.

Look at my picture-I am wearing my base layer (long Capilene underwear), outer layer pants (Marmot Precips) and a fleece jacket. The temp in that photo is probably around 40-45F.

If I was sitting around, I'd have on a down jacket and a fleece hat or balaclava of some sort.

Snowshoeing is labor intensive. Wear something light so you don't overheat. My pants have full side zips that are partly unzipped. Gaiters keep snow out of my boots.

You don't need to spend a fortune on fancy jackets and whatnot. If you don't have a down jacket, wear a heavy wool sweater. I took a mountaineering course without owning a down jacket. I wore a wool pullover instead and survived pretty well.

I would make sure I had a warm hat of some type, mitts or gloves, warm socks and a warm sleeping bag. I'd take two pads for sleeping on snow.

Like Jim said, a lot depends on where you will be. What I have works fine for Yosemite at 7800 ft. (Badger Pass area) in February with temps down to about 15F. This includes a big down parka and insulated pants for just sitting around at night.

3:59 p.m. on January 8, 2010 (EST)
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133 forum posts

Every year this topic comes up and everyone seems to have a different opinion. Bottom line is you need to design a system that works for your environment and the activity you will be persuing.

There are a few rules alway apply:


-Learn about the environment you will be traveling.

-Dress in layers.

-Bring extra if your are not sure.

Everyone is different. Some sweat more than others. Some get cold hand fast. Some are cold even in the summer (like my wife)... If you are in a humid area, permaloft insulation may be better for you. If it is cold and dry, go with down...... See what I mean.

As Tom said, look at some of the old threads first. Then look at where you will be going and what you already have.

I live and play in the Northeast. My system varies alot.

On most winter day trips I use a softshell over a base layer.

On longer winter trips, where I am working hard (snowshoe trips, etc.), I hate softshells because they do not breath as well. Once wet, they take forever to dry. For these trips I use a wool or synthetic base layer, a fleece jacket, and a hard shell when needed. When I stop I put on a down jacket and other layers. My fleece jacket is not the Wind Stopper type. This does not breath well. Use something with pit zips or Polaguard Wind Pro to help regulate your temperature.

Depending on conditions, I may use a heavier down jacket and down pants. If weather conditions may vary, I switch out the down for permaloft.

No matter how long I go, I always use mitts instead of gloves. They are just warmer.

For most people, the same goes for legs. Use layers. For my legs, I always use softshell pants with no base layer (it just work for me, go figure...).

I have a pair of hardshell pant and a pair of either down or synthetic full zip pants for insulation. (Full zip are the best for going over your boots and crampons).

Just a few thoughts. Hope it helps.

9:50 p.m. on January 8, 2010 (EST)
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1,157 forum posts

Good advice above. Keep it simple.

May 29, 2020
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