From Mountain Khakis

7 Steps for Setting Up Your Tent in the Snow



No bugs and no crowds…sold yet? Winter camping is an incredible way to get outside and enjoy Mother Nature’s masterpiece, which just so happens to look even more magical when blanketed under a layer of snow.

However, winter camping comes with a few challenges that you don’t typically need to deal with the other three seasons of the year, including figuring out how to set up your tent in the snow.

Before we begin, there is one caveat: we’re assuming that you’re camping in relatively tame territory (like a designated camping ground). If you’ll be camping in the extreme wilderness or up on a mountain, you’ll need to take several additional factors into consideration, like avalanche protocol. Do your research accordingly.

Step One: Find a Site
Your two goals in selecting the perfect winter camping site are simple: flat and protected. A flat site is a must no matter what time of year it is; you don’t want to be rolling over your fellow tent mates in the middle of the night.

A protected site is important for sheltering you from the elements, particularly the wind. Trees, shrubbery and other natural features serve as good shields. However, be aware of tree placement; if you park your tent directly under a tree, slabs of snow could fall down from the branches right onto your tent.

Step Two: Flatten the Snow
Get your fellow campers to join you for this step. This is when you need to stomp down the snow on the site where you’ll be pitching your tent. It’s much easier to do this with snow shoes or skis, but it’s certainly doable with good old fashioned snow boots. The more people you have stomping and flattening the site, the quicker it goes.

Step Three: Lay Down a Tarp
It’s a good idea to cover the tent site with a tarp before you set up your tent. This will provide an extra barrier between your tent and the damp ground, which will help you stay dry in the night.

Step Four: Erect the Tent
Pull your tent out of its bag and set it up over the tarp. Be sure to use a four-season tent that is durable enough to withstand the winter elements.

This step is relatively straightforward and is pretty similar to setting your tent up in the summer, except for two things. One, be careful of getting snow on the inside of your tent or your fly. Two…

Step Five: Bury the Pegs
When it comes to winter camping, you don’t dig the tent pegs into the ground like you do in the summer. Instead, you want to bury the pegs under a few inches of snow. Feed your pegs through the tent loops, then dig out a small hole and place the peg inside. Cover it with snow and stomp over the area. It will hold well; just be sure to have an ice pick or another tool to dig out the peg in the morning.

Step Six: Open the Vents
While winter camping, moisture is the number one enemy. Keep condensation from happening by opening all of the vents inside of your tent and ensuring that air is circulating throughout the structure. Make sure that any moisture that accumulates is able to escape, or risk spending the night damp and cold.

Step Seven: Sleep Tight!
Your tent is up, you’re shielded from the elements, and the bottom of the tent is dry as a bone. You’re good to go; just remember to take off your boots before getting into the tent!