At the end of a long day on the mountain, you might dread the thought of spending a night out in the elements as the temperatures begin to drop. The idea of snow camping might not seem that appealing but consider a perspective shift.

Instead of retreating down into town and spending money on a hotel — consider pitching your tent in the snow on the mountainside. There are tons of benefits to snow camping you may not have even considered, including physical, mental, and environmental (and financial) advantages.

With the proper gear and preparation, snow camping can be even more enjoyable than summer camping. Do you enjoy bundling up and chatting with your friends around a bonfire? Snow camping might be the winter pastime you have been missing. As we sit here with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, let’s look at some of the benefits snow camping can have on our outdoor lifestyles.

5 Benefits of Snow Camping

1. Easily Acclimate

Whether you enjoy ski touring, mountaineering, or hiking, these activities can bring us high up into the mountains where the air is thin, the snow drifts are high, and the wind howls incessantly. Snow camping can help your body adapt to the cold temperatures and high elevation.  When you wake up in the morning you’re ready to hit the slopes or push for the summit without worrying about the devastating effects of altitude sickness. In addition, an earlier start means a head start on the day’s objective.

Backpacking Gear Tent-Oberon Sleeping Bag

2. Sleep Soundly

Snow camping can have positive effects on your health. Our bodies naturally cool off when we fall asleep, and helping get your body to that lower temperature faster can encourage deeper sleep. In addition, there is something utterly comforting about swaddling yourself in the thick, warm down of the Parsec 0F/-18C sleeping bag and drifting off to sleep.

3. Escape the Crowds

Winter isn’t exactly regarded as camping season — and you can use that to your advantage. You’ll often have the pick of your favorite camp spot and can indulge in the tranquility of your surroundings. Embrace the solitude and enjoy the peacefulness of being out in nature with your closest companions. What may seem like a challenge to some can become your greatest adventure. As long as you have a proper tent, snow stakes, adequately warm clothing, and quality sleeping gear — you can find yourself comfortable, even in the dead of winter.

setting up winter tent while snow camping

4. Embrace the Challenge

Like most outdoor lovers, you enjoy and appreciate the planning, preparation, and gear organization that goes into executing a camping trip. Snow camping requires a higher level of commitment as it entails more of a survival mindset than sitting back in a lawn chair with a cold beer in hand. You need to have a solid foundation in layering clothing, a sturdy four-season tent, and a sleeping pad with an R-Value higher than three. A little experience goes a long way, so if it’s your first time setting up a campsite in winter, it will benefit you to bring a seasoned companion to demonstrate how to choose and prepare a site and use snow stakes. (Tip: Try it close to the car for the first time so you can retreat if needed.)

enjoying views while snow camping

5. Enjoy the Views

There’s something about a snowscape that’s undeniably magical. Barren tree branches hold up clumps of white powder and plump birds hop about, creating crystalline dustings that sparkle in the sunlight. The mountain peaks look ethereal in their bright white jackets — so clamber out of your tent and take it all in, stretching your arms into the brisk morning air. Sit back with a steaming mug of coffee in hand and appreciate your exquisite surroundings, feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day’s adventure.

Now that you understand the benefits of snow camping, you can ditch those hotel plans and invest in some quality winter gear. Enjoy your day on the mountainside and once the sun dips below the horizon, grab those snow stakes and set up camp. Snow camping will soon become a routine part of your winter endeavors.

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Updated. Originally Published January 26, 2021.