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Winter Camping Gear Checklist for Colorado’s Extremes

Today is my lucky day!  My father-in-law just handed down not just one but two 1975 North Face Oval Intention tents – pure nostalgia!!!  I set one of them up, and the dang thing is in near perfect condition.  This all comes at a straight money time; I’m taking two of my best friends snow camping in January.  Sorry 4-season Kelty tent, but we’re opting for this bad boy instead of you this time around. Time to check this item off my winter camping gear checklist!

Winter Camping Gear Checklist
North Face Oval Intention Tent

In case you don’t know much about the North Face Oval Intention, it was the tent that truly revolutionized backpacking tents.  It was one of the first freestanding, bomb-proof shelters ever designed.  It’s so structurally sound because of its geodesic design.

I can’t possibly do this tent the justice it deserves by writing about it on Nomad Colorado  However, you should definitely check out this essay and this history about the North Face Oval Intention.  They’re about as good as it gets.

I’m just ticking down the hours until I get to take it out snow camping.  It’s been hibernating way too long!  Time to tackle the rest of the items on my winter camping gear checklist.

Winter Camping Gear Checklist

Winter camping requires more gear than summer camping. Our comprehensive checklist is designed to keep you from forgetting anything important.

Lets Start with The Ten Essentials

  1. Navigation
    • Map (with protective case)
    • Compass
    • GPS (optional)
  2. Sun protection
    • Sunscreen (SPF 45+)
    • Lip balm (SPF 15+)
    • Sunglasses (Polarized)
  3. Insulation
    • Jacket
    • Pants
    • Gloves
    • Hat(See Clothing List)
  4. Lights
    • Headlamp or flashlight (plus 1 spare)
    • Extra batteries for both
  5. First-aid
    • First-aid kit (see our first-aid checklist)
    • Personal medications
  6. Fire
    • Matches or lighter
    • Waterproof container
    • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)
  7. Repair kit and tools
    • Knife or multi-tool
    • Kits for stove, sleeping pad
    • duct tape strips
  8. Nutrition
    • Extra supply of food (See Food Checklist)
  9. Hydration
    • Water bottles or hydration system (insulated)
    • Water filter or other treatment system
  10. Shelter
    • Tent or Bivy (Four Season)
Winter Camping
Winter Camping

Winter Camping Gear Checklist: Beyond the Ten Essentials


  • Internal or external frame backpack
  • Convertible or four-season tent
  • Sleeping bag (-30° to 0°F)
  • Snow or tent stakes and guylines
  • Footprint (if needed for tent)
  • Stuff sacks or compression sacks
  • 2 sleeping pads per person – (1 inflatable sleeping pad
  • + 1closed-cell foam sleeping pad)
  • Pillow or stuffable pillowcase
  • Packable lantern
  • Snow goggles
  • Snowshoes or Skis (with skins)
  • Trekking poles (with snow baskets)
  • Signaling mirror (often on compass)
  • Whistle
  • Avalanche probe (1 per person)
  • Snow shovel (1 per person)
  • Snow saw
  • Towing sled or toboggan
  • Insulated water bottles (2)
  • Stove + Fuel
  • Cookset with large pot (for melting snow)
  • Dishes or bowls, Utensils, Cups
  • Pot grabber
  • Food-storage sacks or canister
  • 50′ nylon cord
  • Chemical heat packs – hand and feet warmers
  • Backup water treatment
  • Pee bottle (use spare/old Nalgene)
  • Toilet paper (Don’t Forget This!)


  • Base layer
  • Wicking underwear
  • Midweight long john top
  • Midweight long john bottoms
  • Expedition-weight long john bottoms
  • Expedition-weight long john top


  • Waterproof/breathable jacket
  • Waterproof/breathable pants
  • Synthetic or softshell hiking pants
  • Insulated parka or down jacket
  • Insulated pants
  • Waterproof gaiters


  • Insulated camp booties
  • Waterproof hiking or snowshoeing boots (insulated is best)
  • Wool or synthetic socks (one pair for every day or two, plus an extra pair for sleeping only)
  • Liner socks (2)


  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Balaclava or facemask
  • Synthetic liner gloves
  • Midweight insulated ski gloves
  • Heavyweight down mittens
  • Waterproof overmitts
  • Sun hat or visor
  • Bandanna or Buff (2)

Recommended Personal Items & Misc

  • Hand sanitizer + quick-dry towel
  • Toothbrush and/or toiletry kit
  • Notebook and pen or pencil (waterproof)
  • Permits (if needed)
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Cell or satellite phone
  • Trip itinerary left with friend

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