Warm Up to Winter Camping
While maybe a somewhat unconventional activity in the Midwest, winter camping
can be a rewarding and peaceful way to experience the outdoors in the colder months. Take advantage of Iowa state and county parks, many of which offer winter camping options, and enjoy the outdoors.
Before beginning your trip, make sure you’re fully equipped and plan ahead. As a first timer, pick a winter night with low winds and manageable temperatures and consider camping closer to your home in case you need to leave sooner than expected. If you’re more experienced, consider exploring areas such as the Luster Heights Unit in Yellow River State Forest as well as the Loess Hills, which offer more rustic options.
Layering up is the best way to keep yourself warm. Start with a base layer such as thermal underwear, then a mid-layer and finally a top layer that is waterproof, such as snow pants.
“Having wool layers is incredibly important,” said Zac Bales-Henry, an avid winter camper who runs the travel blog @miles.two.go with his wife, Emily. “Wool will push moisture away from the body and help keep you warm and dry.”
Bring a sleeping bag rated for below freezing temps with an insulated layer such as a foam pad, and sleep with your water bottle inside the bag so it doesn’t freeze overnight. Having an insulated bag for food as well will help keep your meals from freezing. Three or four-season tents have smaller windows and stronger poles to help secure your tent against the ice and snow. Bring a travel-sized shovel to dig out the snow so you can easily pitch your tent.
Not only can you hike while out camping, but depending on where you go, you can also go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding around your campsite.
“There’s nothing like this at any other time of the year,” said Bales-Henry. “It’s still and perfect.”
To see more of Zac’s traveling adventures, check out his Instagram: @miles.two.go