Ontario turns into a gorgeous snowy wonderland every winter, and camping will let you experience it to the fullest
People freak out when you say you go winter camping, but trust us – it’s really fun!. When you’re all done you feel like you really accomplished something. It’s a great way to recharge your batteries and get outdoors. Plus, there are no bugs!
For camping rookies who shiver at the idea of nothing but a layer of canvas or nylon separating them from the elements – it helps to learn essential skills from experienced campers. You must be prepared for potential difficulties and new situations, especially in a cold environment when things can go from good to bad very quickly.
Many people think they will be cold, but you learn how to overcome this by altering the way you dress. Plus learning how to correctly use a wood stove keeps you toasty. But you need more than a roaring fire to keep warm while winter camping. Choose the proper clothing and equipment to ensure your safety and comfort. Layers of natural fibres (think: silk, wool and leather) plus a windproof outer layer will keep you dry, because believe it or not, you’ll work up a sweat while setting up camp!
Some go-to gear includes light flexible footwear like mukluks, leather chaps and mittens with interchangeable wool liners. Stay away from synthetics, not only because they don’t insulate as well as natural fibres, but they will melt when you’re working around your fire.
When it comes to tents, campers have a few options. Walled canvas tents are the tent of choice for most winter campers. These durable tents provide superior snow and wind protection and can be outfitted with a wood stove.
Walled tents are typically larger and heavier than the nylon tents you take camping in the summertime, a key factor to consider if you use a pulk or other sled bring your gear to your campsite. Opt for a lightweight nylon 2-person tent – a smaller tent is better. The small tents don’t take as long to get warm up from your body heat. The lightweight tents aren’t for everyone, but they do have the advantage of being able to be used year-round.
Of course, camping isn’t camping without food. But first, you need to have water. For that, bring an ice auger and SteriPens for water from Frontenac’s waterways. Melting snow might sound easy but it takes a lot of energy to meltwater because the snow to water ratio is 10:1. That’s a lot of snow and wood to melt even 10 cups of snow to get one cup of water. Here’s a tip reserve wood for heat and fuel for cooking.
For mealtime, head to the frozen food aisle of their grocery store, but not to shop! Make your own version [of these meals] for camping from scratch with real ingredients. Meat and fat are ingredients that will keep you warm.
Not ready to try winter camping? Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in South Eastern Ontario instead with our list of places to go!
Book your backcountry winter camping trip at Frontenac Provincial Park on the Ontario Parks website.