With its majestic mountains and stunning costal vistas, Oregon winter camping offers visitors many wonders to behold. During the current pandemic, finding safe places to travel in order to get a way for a weekend or for a vacation have been hard to find. Fortunately, camping offers the opportunity to escape the home safely and without having to worry about crowds, especially when camping during the winter.
Winter camping offers many advantages you won’t find in summer. In addition to fewer crowds, winter camping in Oregon offers the chance to truly enjoy the verdant greens and lush vegetation that doesn’t grow during the state’s dry summer months. Winter camping also offers the opportunity to engage in activities like snowshoe hiking and campfire cooking. (Oregon’s dry summer months usually result in a ban on campfires, meaning no S’mores!)
Luckily, camping during the winter doesn’t present the kind of logistical challenges you might expect. Unless heading up to the mountainous regions of the state, you probably won’t need chains or snow tires to make your way to some fantastic campsites.
Of course, winter camping does mean making a few concessions to the season. Throwing your sleeping bag in the trunk and heading out with only a water bottle and a little food won’t make for as an enjoyable camping experience as it does during the summer months.
So that you have the tools needed to enjoy your next Oregon winter camping experience, here are a few tips to keep in mind. But first:
Embrace the Rain or Snow
Spending time outdoors in Oregon during the winter months means you’re likely to get wet. While a little rain may ruin a picnic, it doesn’t have to ruin your camping trip. Not if you embrace the rain or snow.
A sturdy tent and a rain tarp can keep you dry during the evening when temperatures drop. A winter-grade sleeping bag and electric blanks will keep you warm camping in the snow.
Weather will be a factor when you head out so plan accordingly. Having the right gear and the right mindset will allow you to enjoy your camping trip rather than be miserable, cold, and wishing you were at home.
Now for those tips…
Pack More Food Than Normal
The body burns far more calories trying to keep itself warm than it does during the summer months. As such, you’re likely to feel hungry more often than usual, and will need to bring more food to accommodate this increased hunger.
Additionally, winter camping means you’re slightly more likely to encounter unexpected scenarios that could delay or postpone your return home. Depending on whether camping in the snow or at lower elevations, plan to bring an additional one or two days’ worth of food to cover any unexpected scenarios.
Keep Your Head Outside of the Sleeping Bag
During a cold night, you might feel tempted to zip the sleeping bag around your head to stay warm. However, this will actually lower the temperature of the sleeping bag and your body temperature as a result.
Exhaling causes you to release moisture into the air which, when trapped inside a sleeping bag, causes the temperature of the bag to drop. If you need something to keep your head warm at night, try wearing a balaclava or face buff instead.
Drinking anything other than hot coco when out in the cold may seem torturous, but it’s important to stay hydrated. Since you sweat less in colder temperatures, you may not even realize you’re thirsty.
Not staying hydrated can cause you to cramp up when hiking or foraging for firewood, so make sure to take a few sips of water every hour so that dehydration doesn’t ruin your camping trip.
Never Eat the Snow
Other than the fact that the snow you pick up off the ground is probably not clean enough to eat, snow actually doesn’t offer your body the source of moisture you might think.
Eating cold snow causes the body to expend a lot of fuel trying to warm itself. Turning up the furnace actually causes you to dehydrate more quickly, meaning you’ll need to drink more water to compensate.
If you must drink snow water, melt it over a fire first.
Stock Up on Carbs Before Bed
While not a great technique for weight loss, eating carbs before bed will help keep you warm when outside.
Eating a sugary snack or bag of chips will cause a temporary spike in your blood sugar levels, which will naturally warm the body. Doing this before crawling into your sleeping bag will time this heat spike to when you can use it the most – snuggled up and ready for bed.
Keep Your Electronics Nearby
Cold temperatures cause batteries to deplete their charge more quickly. To keep your phone from running out of juice before morning, keep it next to you in the sleeping bag where it can take advantage of your natural warmth and stay charged.
Oregon winter camping trips offer a unique chance to see this majestic state in a way few people get a chance to appreciate. By following these tips, you and the family will have a much better time that will keep you motivated to come back for more adventures in the future.