Why you should go camping in winter
Top tips for road tripping with a tent in tow through cooler climes.
Cosy cabins with log fires and centrally heated beachfront apartments tend to hog the limelight when it comes to travelling in cooler months. But camping is far from a poor travel cousin from May to August. It’s extremely affordable, comfortable and also rewarding. Think tranquil, brisk evenings, fewer crowds and even snow for those who are upping their winter holiday game.
Of course, it won’t be all beer and skittles – it will be chilly, your thongs and bathers won’t get much of a workout and the days are shorter. But, in our book, the pros outweigh the cons. You’ll have your pick of the prime camping or caravan spots, the flies and mosquitoes will be on holidays elsewhere and you’ll avoid sweltering nights and 5am wake-up calls from the sun.
Here are five tips to help make your winter camping trip memorable
1. Make the BOM your BFF
Camping under inky, star-studded skies and drinking in the crisp night air is a glorious experience. Skies darkened by storm clouds and brightened with lightning strikes and threatening thunder; not so much. Check the Bureau of Meteorology website and app before you leave the driveway. Cool temperatures are one thing but being caught in a maelstrom is quite another.
If the forecast is looking a little menacing but you’re all set for a starry getaway, glamp it up at RACV’s Cobram resort. Campers at Cobram have full access to resort facilities so, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can head inside for some comfort food or a hot cuppa.
2. Pack your woollens
This is a no-brainer: you’ll want to be toasty and warm on your winter camping adventure. The best advice is to layer up with lightweight thermal pants and long-sleeved tops, and then pants, other tops, vests or jackets on top. It’s a great idea to sleep in them, too.
Jeans may be your city go-to, but they have zero warmth so consider thermals underneath or trading them for synthetic pants. Don’t forget your gloves, thick woollen socks and a beanie – we lose a lot of heat through the tops of our heads – and take spares of everything.
3. Gear up
Camping at any time requires quality gear but this is especially so in winter. Ensure your tent is waterproof (no one needs a moat around their bed in the middle of the night thanks to an unexpected rainstorm), your sleeping bag is rated to 3C or less (you can also pump up the heat factor with thermal linings), and that your camp kitchen or portable barbecue is in good shape and your gas bottle is filled.
Waterproof your boots (dewy grass in the morning is not your friend) and buy the best thermos you can to boil up water at night for an instant hit of coffee in the morning (and keep it hot all day).
4. Fire away
Nothing says ‘I’m on a winter camping adventure and loving it’ more than creating a fabulous campfire to warm your companions, and to admire while celebrating the quintessential happy hour with a beverage or two. Travel with kindling and firewood in case your campsite can’t provide any, and pack either waterproof matches or a refillable gas lighter with an extended nozzle, ie: not a cigarette lighter.
5. Trickle-down effect
Speaking of happy hour, once you climb in to your toasty sleeping bag, you’ll dread leaving it as temperatures spiral down overnight. To avoid the need for midnight toilet runs, keep your beverage consumption to a minimum for the two hours before bedtime. You’ll be thanking us at 3am when everyone else who has over-indulged has to brave the chill to relieve themselves.
And, if you draw the line at dashing through artic darkness in the middle of the night for the toilet, then RACV’s Inverloch and Cobram resorts offer powered sites with well-appointed amenities blocks. There are even a handful of sites with private ensuites so you can still enjoy all the romance of a winter wilderness escape, without the chill factor.
Book one of RACV Cobram Resort’s 61 powered sites (tent and caravan options available) from $100 for seven nights.