|Winter Camping at Elbow Lake (photo: M. Schulze)|
My definition of winter camping however, is perhaps not what one would typically refer to as "camping." When I go into the backcountry or wilderness in the cold months from October through April, I stay in a hut, cabin, or hostel. I'm a bit of a princess when it comes to tenting in the snow and I like to have four walls around me, a bed, and an indoor fireplace if I'm going to go camping in the winter. I've done a ton of winter backpacking and I've spent many a night in the wilderness during the cold season - but I've never slept in a tent.
|This is my idea of winter camping (Elk Lakes, Alpine Club of Canada Cabin)|
Being that I am not a traditional winter camper, I figured I should call in some help on this story and get some real solid tips for you on how to camp in the snow with kids - in a real tent! Honest to goodness camping and not the "glamping" that I like to do. Fortunately, my new friend Melissa Schulze and author of the blog, Rockies Chick, has just completed a winter camping trip at Elbow Lake in Kananaskis. She took her 4 year old daughter with her and they survived the night. More than survived in fact, because they want to do it again! So, I begged Melissa to share some tips with us on how to take children into the backcountry in winter.
|Heading into Elbow Lake with loaded down sleds|
A Guide to Winter Camping with Kids - By Melissa Schulze
|Camping at Elbow Lake (M. Schulze)|
1. Choose either a drive in campsite or a backcountry site that isn't too far from your car. This will put you at ease in the event things do not go as planned.
2. Have an all season tent or if this is not possible, try to find shelter for your tent. You do not want the wind to enter your tent during the night. The temperature can drop dramatically with wind chill. Snow or rocks around your tent can act as a brilliant shelter.
3. When setting your mattress and sleeping bag down, place an emergency blanket down at the bottom of the tent under your mattress. This will act as an extra layer and can make a big difference.
4. Once your tent is set up, look for a cooking space while you still have daylight left. If you are in the backcountry there is usually a designated location separated away from your sleeping area. Keep in mind that wind may pick up and cooking may become difficult. Find a space where you might have a bit of wind shelter. This can be harder to locate once the sun has gone down.
|Camping at Elbow Lake (M. Schulze)|
6. If you start getting cold before the sun goes down, get moving, go for a walk, play a game, or do anything to get you moving. This might be a good time to explore the area, perhaps go snowshoeing, hiking, skiing or perhaps just build a fort.
7. Drink plenty of warm fluids. Hot chocolate, tea, soup, etc. Just make sure to slow down on consumption close to bedtime. A trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night can be challenging.
8. Once the night has set, the temperature will change fast. Build a fire and make sure everyone stays warm. If anything became wet during the day, such as socks or mittens, make sure to change into new dry ones.
|Entertainment in the dark at camp (M. Schulze)|
9. What to do with your kids once darkness has arrived at your campsite? Play ring toss with glow rings, play with glow in the dark toys, build your fire, tell stories and sing songs, sip on warm drinks and enjoy the company!
10. Before bedtime boil some water and place the water in Nalgene bottles or equivalent bottles, making sure they are tightly closed, and place the bottles at the bottom of your sleeping bags. You will not regret it as it will make you quite toasty for a great night spent in the cold outdoors.
Just remember, things like weather can change fast and be prepared for the worst. Then, everyone should enjoy a wonderful night of winter camping!
To read Melissa's full story on her recent winter camping trip at Elbow Lake, go to her story: An Introduction to Winter Camping.
More Inspiration for Winter Camping
Despite the fact I enjoy sleeping in a cabin when I go winter camping, I have written a lot about the subject of cold weather camping lately. Below are my recent stories should you want further inspiration on the subject.
Winter Camping and Backpacking Tips - Recent Story for Campers Village
|Winter Backpacking and Ski Touring|
Tips and Tricks for Cold-Weather Backpacking - Recent Story for Snowshoe Magazine
|Our First Backpacking Trip to Elbow Lake|
Raising Tough Kids - Our Annual Winter Backpacking Trip - Story I wrote last winter after our annual backcountry trip to Elk Lakes in BC (where we slept in an Alpine Club of Canada cabin.)
|This is why we go winter camping|
Winter Camping with Kids - Warmer than you Think - Story I wrote for Calgary's Child on using wilderness hostels for camping.
|Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel, Banff National Park|
Thanks Melissa for collaborating with me on this post. Follow Melissa on twitter and instagram @rockieschick22 and check out her blog at Rockies Chick .