Being Brave (and Smart) at Below Zero
It takes a brave person to face the elements of a New Brunswick Winter. Parks NB invites you to challenge your inner thrill seeker this winter in one of our provincial parks that remain open during the winter months, Mactaquac, Mount Carleton and Sugarloaf. Camping in the snow offers a uniquely stunning and serene back drop. But are you up for that challenge?
The sub-zero temperatures are un-deniably a major focus when planning your winter camping venture. So, what can you do to ensure your Winter camping experience is as enjoyable as it is beautiful? Although you can just assume that it’s going to be cold, checking the weather is your first step in planning. Let’s make sure you’re not going to be interrupted by one of our famous Canadian blizzards. First timers would do best to stick close to familiar territory with an easy backup plan in case that cold creeps in on you.
What’s in your kit?
Your supplies will be key in ensuring you won’t need to turn to your back up plan. Every piece of kit you pack will have a temperature rating. Are your sleeping bag and mattress designed for sub-zero temperatures? Is your tent built to withstand the wind? Maybe your tent was designed to accommodate a stove. These are all questions you want answered so you don’t land at your camping site unprepared. Maybe you’re even adventurous and experienced enough to build a shelter from snow like a Quinzee. How ever you plan to catch some z’s, you want to be sure your supplies are as ready to stand up to the New Brunswick Winter elements as you are.
Your tent and sleeping bag are ready, what else do you need to pack? This may depend on what you plan to do during your frosty excursion, but you can count on needing layers and extra dry pieces from head to toe. One pair of mittens will only go so far in a winter wonderland. Plan for a minimum of two pairs, maybe more if you anticipate activities that include being hands on with that fresh powder. The more active you are, the less layers you will need, but for those times you’re not quite as active, you will appreciate your foresight to pack the extra layers including the important exterior waterproof ones that will act as a wind barrier. A great tip when you’re ready to climb into that warm sleeping bag, have your clothes for the next day picked out, tuck them into your sleeping back to snuggle with and they’ll be warmed up and toasty for the next day!
Don’t forget these essentials as well:
Fire starting materials
Make sure what you bring is designed for cold weather use. You do not want to be all set to start a fire and the lighter is too cold to light! Waterproof matches are a great alternative as well as having materials such as dryer lint in a waterproof container to help with ignition.
Cooking Supplies with extra food
Always plan for extra food no matter the time of year. Winter camping food is best served easily and warm. Consider soups, stews, chilies or noodles!
First Aid kit
These also come in “winterized” options with warming blankets and larger bandages.
Water and water containers
Be sure to choose containers that can withstand cold temperatures (This excludes bladders as they may freeze) and pack plenty as water filters typically do not work on snow and ice.
Flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, etc. It gets dark much earlier these days, so extra batteries are required for longer usage.
Many people forget that the sun is just as dangerous in the winter as the summer. Sunscreen and sunglasses will help. The snow is beautiful, but the glare isn’t as pleasant.
Map and compass
Although they may seem outdated, you may find yourself at a place such as Mount Carleton Provincial Park with no cell phone service. Cell phone batteries are also more likely to die quickly in colder temperatures. A map and compass will never fail you when everything is glittery and white.
Traction and Mobility
It is stressed by provincial park safety experts, that you stay on designated trails, as the snow can be very deep and unpredictable. For navigating trails and campsites you’ll want to be sure to have the proper items such as snowshoes, crampons and trekking poles with snow baskets attached. Researching the terrain before your camping trip will be key to navigating the area safely.
Doing deep and thorough research can make or break your Winter camping experience. Parks NB can provide a safe space for you to give winter camping a try, but it should be noted that Winter camping is un-serviced with limited access to amenities. Contact one of our Winter Provincial Parks to talk about how you can start planning a winter camping adventure.
Mount Carleton Provincial Park (Opens January 3, 2023)
Braving the intense elements in our spectacular parks is worth it- just make sure to follow these tips and enjoy yourself this season.
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