Winter Camping in a Rav4: Lessons Learned

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Depending on where you are in the world, you might be experiencing cooler weather. 

As for where I live, we just got a few feet and have been without power for a few days.

So this is the time of year that you start pulling out the layers.

The thermal underwear, pants, sweaters, beanies (for my bald people out there), slippers, blankets, and, best of all, hot cocoa.

Over the years, I have started to enjoy winter camping.

This year is no different, although I’ve gotten a few other things to make it more comfortable and enjoyable. 

cabin located in a forest with snow

Reasons for Winter Camping

If you have been camping or traveling in the last year or two, you have noticed huge crowds.

Here is something to think about. Camping in the “off-season” will give you places to yourself: Aka, fewer crowds.

After all, who likes camping in the cold?

Pretty soon, you will!

Of course, fewer people will be around.

If you ask me, camping in cooler weather is nice. It is much easier to warm up than cool down.

But, if you don’t like the snow, try heading south, where you can also experience warmer weather to camp in.

I recently went on an overnight Rav4 camping trip. Not only did I have the place to myself, but the trails were way less crowded than in the summer months.

Winter camping will provide you with a true escape. A place where you can feel at peace, have a fire, and have a warm cup of hot cocoa.

winter tent camping with a fire and sunset

Have a contingency plan

One crucial thing when winter camping is ensuring you have options for staying warm. 

Duh, I know. But you would be surprised how underprepared people are for this.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a car, tent, or hammock (something I plan on doing this winter!). There are steps you can take to ensure you will not freeze.

Here is something to consider because we all want to be better prepared. Always having a contingency plan is something you should include for all trips. 

always have a plan B

If you are SUV or car camping in winter, here are a few things to consider.

  • Have a first aid kit handy.
  • Bring extra cooking fuel.
  • Wrap up water to prevent it from freezing.
  • Always dress in layers (there are a lot of benefits to this).
  • Ensure your vehicle is ready for the trip (a newer post you should check out!).
  • Check the weather conditions before leaving (I generally use Weather Underground).
  • Bring more clothing than you need (you always want to ensure you have clean and dry clothes).

As you can imagine, there are many other options, but this is to get your ideas flowing.

Feel free to share your suggestions on staying warm in the comments below!

Lessons Learned During Winter Camping

As mentioned before, dress in layers to help you stay warm.

I’m unsure if it’s me, but I must remind myself to drink more water when it’s cold. You don’t want to become dehydrated.

Always know how to use the equipment you have with you. Everything in your first aid and safety kits and how to use your cooking supplies.

Important! If you decide to bring a tent, set it up a few times before you go camping.

This is so important. I cannot tell you how many people I see that don’t know how to set up their camp.

Here are a few more things I’ve learned that are good to have with you include:

  • Blankets
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kits
  • Water bottles
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full (if you have a generator, fill that up, too).
  • Tools (I like the Leatherman shears because they have many functions).
  • Unplug sensitive electronics (this is for your home, especially if you are leaving).
  • Cash in small bills (you never know where you will be and if there are any ATMs available).
  • Food (non-perishable is best, can opener if you have any canned food too, you will thank me later for this one).
  • Keep electronics charged (cell phones, lights, portable batteries). Also, batteries tend not to last as long in cold weather.

This goes hand in hand with having a contingency plan.

Being prepared is important, but you want to know how to use the equipment you bring.

Perfect example, I recently got a flat tire. Instead of stressing out, I found the safest place to pull over, grabbed what I needed, and changed the tire.

Sometimes, we need to remember to breathe when we get into sticky situations. It will all be okay, assuming you know where your gear is and how to use it.

That is when you will get peace of mind while out in the middle of nowhere.

Quick Side Note

This post is about winter camping, and we should cover a few symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

You don’t want to be that guy

After all, you might be camping solo (as I often do), and knowledge is power.

Know the symptoms of hypothermia.
  • Fatigue
  • Shivering
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of coordination

Since we are camping in the winter, it would also be good to know about frostbite symptoms.

  • Loss of feeling in the extremities
  • Pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear lobes, and nose tip.

Want to learn more about symptoms?

Here are some excellent references to look at, Winter camping basics.
Also, check out the Backcountry checklist, winter edition.

Get Outside This Winter!

Camping is a topic I enjoy. There is something about getting outside that recharges me. And camping in the winter is no different.

As I was researching a few things for this post. Okay, mainly looking for cool pictures, I came across something I didn’t know existed.

I discovered that winter tends to make people feel down and sad.

I’m not going to talk about mental health, but I found that this sadness tends to occur during the winter.

After some research, I have seen SAD mentioned a few times. It’s fitting as it stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If this is of interest, Click Here to learn more.

Why am I mentioning this?

Because getting outside is a great way to avoid the dreaded winter weather blues if you ask me!

This could be a simple walk in your neighborhood or driving somewhere to camp for the night (hint, hint).

So now it’s your turn.

Share in the comments below what your plans are for this winter.

Don’t forget to share your winter camping suggestions and tips below, too!

You can also use #WildeEscapeBlog to show epic photos this winter.

Do you have an awesome camp setup?
Throw the hashtag when you share it so we can all see it!

solo person surrounded by snow and using snowshoes to get around

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4 thoughts on “Winter Camping in a Rav4: Lessons Learned”

  1. This sounds like soooo much fun!

    If I had to camp in the winter, I would definitely be SAD.

    That said, for you hearty souls that enjoy the cold outdoors … Enjoy!

    Side note: I think we need a side discussion about hammock camping in the winter…

    • Camping in the winter has so many benefits. Two of which are fewer people and no bears! But I get it’s not for everyone.


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