5 top tips from Ted Weirum on how to camp in winter
We caught up with Ted, outdoor enthusiast and YouTuber - he shared his top tips for winter camping.
Really plan to live it, and not just to survive it. Enjoy every moment. Good luck, be safe, and don’t forget your headlamp.
As winter is here to stay in many places across the world, but particularly in our home country of Sweden, we thought we would catch up with Ted Weirum to share his top tips on how to camp in winter. Tedis an outdoor adventurer, and YouTube personality, who creates great videos for his followers reviewing gear he uses out in nature. He is becoming a regular contributor to Foxtrail, and recently he told us that he might be the best person to give us some winter camping tips, as he himself has made every mistake in the book. Ted believes that hiking and trekking is the best way to get to know yourself and the world around you. He lives in the South of Sweden, and takes every chance he can to get out into nature and take part in outdoor adventures. It comes as no surprise that he has travelled to the North of Sweden to take part in winter camping on multiple occasions. So we sat down with Ted to ask him, what are your top tips to camp in wintery conditions successfully?
Tip 01: Get to your destination well rested
The winter in the South of Sweden, where Ted lives, is a lot wetter and doesn’t reach the extreme dry and cold conditions that can be found up North. For him to experience the real winter camping experience, he would need to travel up to the North. This journey is where Ted’s first winter camping tip originates from: “I did not follow this tip when I went on one of my first winter trips where we decided to drive from the South to the North of Sweden. This is a one or two day driving experience. So it ended with us not being well rested when we arrived, and we decided to head out straight away rather than spending one day to rest up or acclimatise. So my first tip is to get to the destination where you are going, or the starting point, well rested and then start your adventure after you are fully re-energised.”
Tip 02: Gear list recommendations - skis instead of snow shoes and a sled where you can store all your equipment
On Ted’s first winter camping adventure he decided to travel from Abisko to Nikkaluokta, and he decided to do it in snowshoes. It was from this experience that Ted shares his second important tip for winter camping: “Long story short, starting the adventure in snowshoes was a bad idea. We did not have the right amount of experience that was needed with the gear we decided to go with. In future I would recommend everyone to go with skis instead of snowshoes. We ended up going in snowshoes because we had no experience with skis, but it’s a really long journey with snowshoes, and you are much better off with skis - as I found out on my later expeditions. Skis enable you to carry a lot more with you, which is important as it is colder and therefore, requires more gear. But you don’t need to carry that all on your back. You can carry it on a sled, which means you can carry a lot more than you normally would. So my next tip is use skis for longer distances or multi-day adventures, and bring a sled where you can store all your gear.”
Tip 03: Pitching a tent in snow - keep flexible, but keep an eye on time
Ted’s next tips come from his experience pitching a tent in snowy conditions. When it comes to camping in winter, it can be nice to point out a place on the map and go there, but it’s more important to be able to adapt to the situation.“Say you don’t get to that point at the right time, it’s better to stop, and find a good place to camp earlier in the day than showing up in the middle of the night when it’s dark and end up in a big struggle to find the right place to camp. So stop in good time and don’t be afraid to adapt to the situation. It’s important to consider the possible need to build a snow wall or flatten the ground to make sure you don’t sink inside your tent. There is a lot of work that needs to get done before you can actually go to sleep. Make sure to get there in time, and if needed go shorter than your set goal.”
To summarise always adapt to the situation you are in, rather than sticking to a predetermined plan, and leave plenty of time to prepare your tent, and the area surrounding it, for the night.
Tip 04: Sleeping in snow - use a hot water bottle, double up on mats and bring a pillow
If you are already a follower of Ted, you will know that one of the most important things for this outdoor adventurer is finding a way to sleep well when outdoors. He’s a big fan of inflatable pillows and wouldn’t be caught on an outdoor adventure without one. Doubling up on sleeping mats can really help to protect from the cold floor. In addition, Ted advises: “bring a water bottle that is a little bit thicker, like a thermos flask, so that you can boil water and fill it before you sleep (ensuring there are no leakages), then tuck that in your sleeping bag and keep that close to your stomach to keep you warm throughout the night. This ‘hot water bottle’ can keep you warm for many hours. Another thing to consider is to change your clothes, change your base-layer, put on new, thicker socks, and make sure you don’t go to bed in wet or damp clothing from the day. That would make you really cold.”
Tip 05: When it comes to clothing, adapt to the situation
Ted’s main philosophy when it comes to clothing to bring on an outdoor camping trip is to be able to adapt to the different situations you find yourself in. “During the day I might be moving, so I would want something that can protect me from the wind but is also able to open up and ventilate, so I can let off excess heat. I would probably bring three pairs of gloves, one Merino wool inner layer, then a thicker pair for wind protection and a third really thick pair to keep my hands warm. When it comes to headgear, I would use a thinner wind protecting hat during the day, and switch to a thicker more insulating hat during the night. I would advise to bring at least two base-layers, one to wear during the day when I’m moving and a thicker one during the night when I stop moving and I just want to keep warm. Same goes for the jackets that I would advise to put on your packing list. There should be one thinner shell jacket that would protect from the wind and once I stop I would put on a super warm jacket, such as the Fjällräven Expedition Down Jacket. Last, but not least, socks - bring Merino wool socks during the day and change into a new, dry, thicker sock to keep your feet warm during the night.”
If you can follow these tips, based on Ted’s experience, you are well on your way to taking part in an exciting, and well prepared winter adventure. There is plenty more advise on Foxtrail about camping or trekking in wintry conditions, and with the 2020 Polar expedition starting soon, there is even more advice on the Polar website for things to consider when planning a winter expedition. One final word from Ted for your next winter camping trip is to “really plan to live it, and not just to survive it. Enjoy every moment. Good luck, be safe, and don’t forget your headlamp.” If you want to read more tips from Ted, on how to prepare for a Classic, click here.