Summer Vs. Winter Camping: Is It Even Worth It?

Growing up, my family went camping several times a year, primarily in the spring, summer, and fall. We rarely went winter camping. Now, as an adult, I continue to take my family camping, but I …

Summer Vs. Winter Camping: Is It Even Worth It?
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Growing up, my family went camping several times a year, primarily in the spring, summer, and fall. We rarely went winter camping. Now, as an adult, I continue to take my family camping, but I also mix in a couple of trips in the winter.

Camping in the summer and winter are relatively similar, but winter camping trips tend to require more planning and gear.

Keep reading to see if you’re a summer camper, winter camper, or both!

Summer Camping Gear

Maybe I’m just a minimalist, but when camping in hot weather, I prefer to pack as little as possible, no matter if I’m tent camping, RVing, SUV camping, or using a rooftop tent.

  • Tent/sleeping quarters
  • Light blanket or lightweight sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Portable fan and flashlights
  • Food and drinks
  • Clothes/personal items
  • Hammock(s)
  • Lawnchairs
  • Disc Golf Gear

My family needs a place to sleep, which usually means hauling a camper, bringing a tent, or sleeping in our SUV. My daughter and I occasionally enjoy sleeping in hammocks while camping. I also might take a nap in our lawn chairs occasionally.

I also bring a light blanket or sleeping bag with a small pillow and fan because I can’t sleep when sweating!

We all need food, drinks, and a way to cook or heat the food, whether using a fire or camp stove. Clothes and personal products are also a must, but we don’t have to pack as many clothes during the summer as we do to stay warm in the winter.

I love playing disc golf with my family, so I usually bring my disc golf bag as a fun activity to do together when a disc golf course is nearby.

You may need to pack more or less during a summer camping trip; our space is often very limited, so I pack as little as possible.

The one thing I’ve found the most helpful for packing and keeping my camping gear organized year-round is storing it in totes.

Winter Camping Gear

While my winter camping gear checklist might be just as long as my summer camping gear checklist, I bring along bulkier items, which makes packing more cumbersome.

  • Sleeping arrangements, tent/SUV/rooftop tent/RV
  • Warm sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Food and drinks
  • Firestarter and logs (some places don’t allow you to bring wood into the area, so you’ll need to buy local)
  • Warm clothes and personal items
  • Lawnchairs
  • Flashlights
  • Books, board games, and other ways to entertain your family

Unless you’re a real cowboy who enjoys sleeping on the ground counting stars to fall asleep, you need some kind of separation from the elements when winter camping. Sleeping in an enclosed area will help you stay warmer during the cold nights.

I love climbing into my warm sleeping bag on a cold night while winter tent camping. I’ve made the mistake of not bringing a warm enough blanket once and vowed never to do it again, as I froze my butt off all night long and didn’t get much sleep!

We still need to eat during the winter, and I often eat more, so I pack extra food and drinks for my cold-weather excursions. I also love sitting by the campfire on a cool, crisp night, so I pack a lighter or firestarter when it’s safe to start a fire.

Nothing will end a camping trip faster than getting too cold, so I always pack extra warm clothes. Not only is staying warm more comfortable, but it’s also a considerable safety factor.

Since there are fewer hours of sunlight, you might need a way to entertain yourself and your family. I’m a big reader, but if you’re not, board games, card games, and dominoes are always fun. I learned to play Spoons on a camping trip with friends.

Summer Camping Activities

Warm weather typically means there are lots of outdoor activities to do. Here are some of my favorite things to do while camping during the summer.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Miniature Golf
  • Disc Golfing
  • Relaxing in the hammock

When it’s sweltering, my family and I also enjoy a few indoor activities-

  • Museums
  • Nature Centers
  • Shopping

Most people prefer to camp during the summer because there’s always something to do, even on a rainy day!

Winter Camping Activities

The cold might keep most people from enjoying the outdoors, but there are still plenty of things to do, especially when you dress for the occasion.

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Disc Golfing

I still enjoy doing many outdoor activities during the winter, granted it is usually just my dad and I because my wife, daughter, and mom are trying to stay warm, so they tend to go to:

  • Museums
  • Nature Centers
  • Shopping at nearby towns

Every campground I’ve visited had a unique draw to it, whether it was incredible mountain views from the hiking trail or fun family activities (I think hiking is a fun family activity!). So, no matter where you plan to stay, I recommend researching the area and discovering what makes that place unique.

Packing Up

The next time you consider going winter camping, do it! You might have to pack extra gear like a warm sleeping bag and bulkier clothing, but the campgrounds are less crowded, and there are still plenty of activities to do, though not as many as during the summer.

I hope to see you camping soon!

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