Winter camping with the kids can be a great way to spend the darker days if you’re a family partial to an outdoor adventure. But it’s important to be prepared, invest in the right gear, and perhaps even do a trial run in your back garden before you venture further afield.
Check weather forecast
The first rule of winter camping with kids is to check the weather forecast. If your kids are really little, it’s best to wait for a warm spell or maybe even hold out for spring.
Families with older kids, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, etc., but be wary that winter camping can be unpredictable, so don’t be afraid to cancel plans or turn to the car around if the weather takes a turn.
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Invest in winter camping essentials
A weather-proof tent
First thing’s first: a family tent. You won’t be able to get away with just any old tent during the cold winter months, you’ll need something weather-proof. Opt for a double-skin/double-layer tent, with two layers of outer fabric, allowing for better breathability, reduced condensation and better shelter from the elements.
Depending on the age of your kids, you might want to consider separate sleeping compartments. You’ll also want to choose a tent with a separate compartment space from the main sleeping areas, so you can leave wet clothes and boots somewhere dry and safe.
The Richmond 6-Man Tunnel Tent boasts a durable 4000HH fly sheet, a practical sewn-in groundsheet and large living storage area, so it’s perfect for use all year round.
With a darkened inner tent and a window with curtain to guarantee the best sleep, it is ideal for both winter camping trips and summer festivals.
The Buxton 6-man tent is ideal for big family camping trips, and offers an all-in-one pitch, so the tent can be pitched all in one as a flysheet and inner tent.
The Vis a Vis layout provides two bedrooms at either end with one large, spacious living area at the centre, perfect for quality time with the family.
This Waterproof Tent comes with a sewn-in groundsheet and insect mesh doors and large vents above the window that allows breathability while keeping out the bugs!
Air mattresses v sleeping mats
Self-inflating air mats and air mattresses are a great stress-free option, but there is a theory that the extra air pockets in air mattresses can make things even colder.
Sleeping mats are a good alternative if the weather is really chilly. Why not pack both?
Winter sleeping bags & bedding
You’ll need to invest in winter bedding for every camper so everybody’s kept warm and snug. Your summer sleeping bags won’t cut the mustard, you will need separate winter bedding, and it’s best to check the rating with the temperature you’ll be sleeping in before you buy.
Oh, and don’t forget your pillows! They can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and, well, let’s face it – no sleep at all.
What to wear
Layers, layers, and yep, you’ve guessed it – more layers. If you were thinking of travelling light for winter camping trips, think again.
Wool socks, thermals, vests, long-sleeved tees, onesies, hats and gloves are essentials for all the family, for both nighttime and day. Wearable blankets offer extra warm layers too, and you’ll be grateful for a hoodie to keep the back of your neck warm.
Headlamps and lights
The nights are slowly drawing out, but it will be dark from around 4 pm for a fair few weeks to come. A headlamp per camper is a must – for summer and winter camping, for that matter. Mountain Warehouse have a brilliant option for kids in two funky colours, so you can all be prepared.
Snacks are a must
Aren’t they always? Be prepared for many a snackette demand and stock up on supplies. It’s cold, you’ll all be hungry, and nobody wants a hangry camper ruining all the fun!
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, bottled water is an all-year-round camping essential, so make sure you pack plenty of big bottles for everybody. It comes in handy for all sorts of things, besides the obvious!
You know the old saying, fail to prepare, prepare to fail… And when it comes to kids, you never know when you’ll need a plaster! (Most days for the most minute teeny scratches in our house!)
The Hiker First Aid Kit from Mountain Warehouse is essential for every outdoor adventurer. Neat and compact, this nifty kit will ensure you’re equipped to deal with minor bumps and scrapes.
Don’t forget the entertainment!
The evenings are long, and chances are, you’ll spend a lot more time in your tent than you might do during the summer months.
A pack of cards, games, a Toniebox and a fully charged Amazon Fire are top on our recommendations – and whatever you do, don’t forget to pack the Bluetooth headphones, so you don’t have to listen to the drone of kids’ TV.
Don’t forget to download a movie or two or bring your Kindle. If all goes well, the kids will be asleep long before you!