Matariki long weekend is upon us. You could stay rugged up at home or you could head out for a fun winter camping weekend. Matariki refers to the Pleiades star cluster, which becomes visible in the pre-dawn sky in late May or early June, marking the start of the Māori New Year. It’s a great opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the night sky stargazing on your camping trip.
I love camping for its serene landscapes, getting away from the daily grind with friends and family, the thrilling outdoor activities, starry nights and cosy campfires.
OK but it's winter – time to hibernate at home rugged up with the heater on watching you fav show, right? Think again. As long as you’re kitted out with the right gear (and attitude) winter camping can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience.
The right gear for winter camping
Whether you're a seasoned winter camper or planning your first winter adventure, it’s important to have the right gear to help you make the most of your winter camping adventure.
- A good weatherproof tent: a sturdy and durable good 3 season tent (4 season if you’re headed for the hills) designed specifically for year-round camping. These tents are designed to withstand strong winds, heavy rain and provide better insulation. The Orson Hopper 2, Ace 1, or Nomad ' All Weather' Series could be good selections for you.
- A warm sleeping bag: choose a quality sleeping bag with a temperature rating suitable for winter camping. Look for bags with a lower temperature rating than the expected coldest temperature during your trip. Down bags offer great warmth in a fairly compact bag while synthetic sleeping are generally bigger and bulkier. A mummy-shaped bag with hood and draft collars is better heat retention. Sea to Summit has a wide range of warm sleeping bags to choose from and lucky for you there's up to 50% off in our Matariki Sale. Check out the Spark SPIV Down Sleeping Bag (save $299.99), or the Treeline TLI Down Sleeping Bag (save $95.99).
- A sleeping bag liner: Consider getting a sleeping bag liner to beef up the warmth of your sleeping bag. A great option without breaking the bank for a new sleeping bag. Sea to Summit have some great options, such as the Thermolite Reactor Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner.
- An insulated sleeping pad: Often overlooked, an insulated sleeping pad is essential to provide insulation and prevent the cold ground from sapping your body heat. Look for pads with higher R-values to ensure adequate insulation and a good night’s sleep. Check out the Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe Self Inflating Sleeping Mat.
- Winter Clothing: Dressing in layers is key to staying warm in winter. Pack thermal base layers, insulating mid-layers (fleece or down jackets), and a waterproof outer shell. Don't forget to include warm hats, gloves, scarves, and thick socks to protect your extremities.
- Cooking Equipment: A portable stove with extra fuel is essential for cooking warm meals and drinks. Opt for a stove that can handle cold temperatures efficiently. Carry lightweight and durable cookware suitable for winter cooking.
- Lighting: Winter nights are longer, so ensure you have reliable lighting options. Pack headlamps, lanterns, and extra batteries to illuminate your campsite and provide visibility during the dark hours. With up to 50% off select lighting from Perfect Image and Black Diamond, gear up on lighting solutions in our Matariki sale. We're loving the Perfect Image Motion Sensor Strip LED Headlamp.
- Snow Stakes or Anchors: Use snow stakes or anchors to secure your tent in the snow. These specialized tent stakes provide better stability in winter conditions.
Tips for winter camping
Camping in winter requires extra preparation and attention to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some essential tips to help you make the most of your winter camping adventure.
- Research Your Destination: Before heading out on a winter camping trip, research your destination carefully. Understand the weather patterns, terrain, and any specific regulations or restrictions that may apply. This knowledge will help you plan and pack accordingly, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable experience.
- Invest in Quality Gear: Winter camping demands specialized gear to withstand low temperatures and harsher conditions. Invest in a good 3 or 4 season tent that offers great waterproofing, sturdy construction and superior insulation. Choose a quality sleeping bag with a temperature rating suitable for the coldest nights you expect to encounter. An insulated sleeping pad with a higher R-value, warm clothing layers, and waterproof outerwear are also essential.
- Stay Warm and Layer Up: Dressing in layers is key to staying warm during winter camping. Opt for moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer shell. This layering system allows you to regulate your body temperature as the weather changes throughout the day. Remember to protect extremities by wearing warm hats, gloves, and thermal socks. And always carry extra clothing in case of unexpected weather changes.
- Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is vital, even in cold weather. Pack a sufficient supply of water and ensure it doesn't freeze by insulating your water bottles or keeping them in your sleeping bag at night. Consider packing warm beverages like tea or hot chocolate to keep you hydrated and provide a comforting boost of warmth.
- Master the Fire: Building and maintaining a fire is crucial for warmth, cooking, and melting snow for water. Carry waterproof matches or a reliable lighter in a sealed container. Gather ample firewood before dark and keep it dry. Create a solid base with rocks or a fire-resistant pad to prevent damage to the ground. Remember to extinguish the fire completely before leaving the campsite.
- Stay safe: Winter camping presents unique safety challenges. Monitor weather conditions closely and be prepared for sudden changes. Familiarize yourself with signs of hypothermia and know how to prevent and treat them. Pack your phone, a handheld GPS, a well-stocked first aid kit and carry essential survival gear like a compass, map, and emergency whistle. Inform someone about your trip details, including your itinerary and expected return time.
With these tips, you can create a cozy and warm environment inside your tent, making your winter camping experience more enjoyable and comfortable. Embrace the chill, enjoy the tranquillity and create unforgettable moments in NZ’s winter wonderland!