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Checklist for a Basic Cold Weather Outing

You’re frantic. Panicked even. In exactly one hour, your troop is heading out the door on a cold weather outing — and you’re struggling to pack. What clothes do you need to bring? How about extra gear?

No worries.

Just take a deep breath and use this handy checklist. In addition to the basic camping gear, you’ll also need:

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants (fleece or wool)
  • Sweater (fleece or wool)
  • Long underwear (polypropylene)
  • Hiking boots or sturdy shoes
  • Socks (wool or synthetic)
  • Warm parka or jacket with hood
  • Stocking hat (fleece or wool)
  • Mittens or gloves (fleece or wool) with water-resistant shells
  • Wool scarf
  • Rain gear
  • Extra underwear (for longer trips)


Here’s more advice from a program director at Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases in Ely, Minnesota:

Bandana. “In the cold, your nose tends to run. To keep your mittens, sleeves and jacket clean and snot-free, use the bandana to wipe your nose.”

Sorel boots. “Boots or shoes will not keep you warm and dry if you’re in the snow. And if it gets well below freezing, regular hiking boots or shoes won’t keep your feet warm either. Wear Sorel boots for wet snow conditions and mukluk-style boots for dry snow.”

Wind parka with hood. “A long wind parka that covers the upper torso down to your mid-thigh will help keep you much warmer than a regular jacket. The heat generated by the lower body and groin area moves to the upper body and then out the neck and head keeping those areas much warmer, much the way a chimney works.”

Side-attaching suspenders. “Using suspenders to keep your pants up instead of a belt is less constricting and allows heat from your lower body to rise freely to the upper body. The side-attaching type allows you to remove your pants without having to take layers off and are easier to reattach.”


Rubberized gloves. “When filling liquid-fuel cooking stoves in really cold weather, wear rubber gloves. If it’s below zero degrees, the fuel will still be liquid at that temperature and can cause instant frostbite if you spill it on your mittens or hands.”

Headlamp. “Daylight is short in the winter, and using a headlamp allows you to use both hands when you do anything from cooking to eating to searching for something in your pack. Plus, if you put your metal mini-Maglite in your mouth when it’s really cold, it’ll freeze to your tongue or lips instantly — ouch!”

48 Comments on Checklist for a Basic Cold Weather Outing

  1. I need to get ready in minutes this is going to help me a lot.

  2. I used this because my troop is camping this weekend, this is very helpful.

  3. My troop is going on a campout where we will build igloos or “quinzees” to sleep in. This checklist helped me make sure I had all the essentials! 🙂

  4. Thnx, Ima girl but this still helped me!

  5. Thnx, Ima girl (in scouts) but this still helped me! 👌

  6. I am not a Boy Scout but I am going camping in my woods tomorrow night with a temperature of 19 degrees Fahrenheit

  7. ok i looked becuse i am going to trappers

  8. This is my real name // December 26, 2018 at 11:13 am // Reply

    Cold weather is bad especially If it rains

  9. This is my real name // December 26, 2018 at 11:12 am // Reply

    Thx I have a camp out tomorrow

  10. you have cool tips on cold camping.i will use this for my Polar camp (1820) thank you

  11. Scoutmaster Larry // November 3, 2018 at 11:58 pm // Reply

    Extra set (maybe several) of dry gear is once you stop moving (and generating body heat) at the end of the day. A Nalgene filled with hot water and stuffed in a wool sock does a great job of warming up the foot end of your sleeping bag. Make sure to close it tight.

    • Experienced Klondike Chair // September 23, 2019 at 2:34 pm // Reply

      Always change into a dry base layer before turning in. The clothes you will have been wearing all day will be sweaty and dirty. A clean dry layer will keep you warmer.

  12. old scouter // March 15, 2018 at 1:39 pm // Reply

    Pee bottle for use in the middle of the night. Holding in urine uses body heat to keep the fluids warm. Using a bottle to get rid of it while not having to leave your tent helps keep you warmer.

    • Experienced Klondike Chair // September 23, 2019 at 2:37 pm // Reply

      Amen. I always take an empty 2 quart juice bottle (rinsed clean, of course). Just getting out of a warm sleeping bag is bad enough, let alone leaving the tent.

  13. VeganGivesLife // February 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    Thanks for putting this together.

  14. Thanks bro!

  15. If possible have the boys change their underwear(moist from sweat) to fresh dry underwear Dry insulates and moisture absorbs body heat.. Two pairs of socks,one thin synthetic (NO Cotton) for the inner layer and a thick insulated outer layer. The boys should also have a second pair of gloves or mittens

  16. Thank you so much! This is so helpful for my klondike derby, and I also need to give a presentation to my troop about cold weather camping, so this is going to be a great reference and guideline.

  17. Add long underwear or shirts that wick away moisture like heat tech brand which are super light weight and circulate heat without causing a body to become sweaty – You’ll need for extra socks too. Change your socks at least 2x a day and please don’t sleep in them it just traps moisture and makes you colder.

  18. One thing to remember is that batteries lose their charge much faster in cold weather. Be sure to bring an extra set for that headlamp and keep them in a pocket close to your body to keep them warm.

  19. Winter camper // November 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm // Reply

    We always suggest bringing a bottle of gateraid. First you drink the liquid to stay hydrated and then fill the container at night instead of having to get out of a warm spelling bag to hit the latrine.

  20. The alkaline batteries use water based chemistry to create electricity. If the batteries get cold enough, the headlight will die. The Scouts should be encouraged to keep the headlamps in their pockets close to their bodies when not in use. Or better, install lithium batteries which while they cost 2X last 4X longer and do not freeze.

  21. This was extremely helpful, I have the klondike derby soon and need supplies, Thanks!

  22. i use this campout list al the time and it works thanks boys’ life !!!!!!!!!!

  23. Please donut use your real name. // April 22, 2016 at 5:02 pm // Reply

    This is great for my camping merit badge!

  24. Yes headlamps are quite useful but in the winter it might be good to have a headlamp with a strobe light accessory because you always need to be prepared for any situation.

  25. Love this site

  26. That one guy that you cant remember // February 19, 2015 at 5:45 pm // Reply

    You talked about clothing and all, but what gear do I bring?

  27. Thanks I have a camp out tommorow I will always use this

  28. How about adding: Chapstick, sun glasses, water, fire starter, pocket snack, hiking stick.
    We tend to leave the rain gear home. Not much use in 20- minus 20 degree weather.

  29. bearhunter-243 // February 10, 2012 at 12:34 am // Reply

    Hey guys great site! However the cold weather outing list could go a little more in depth. It tells about clothing but not about other essential gear.

    Till next time.

  30. Completely agree with the red lamp, but if you can’t find one with red, the green lights are the next best thing. Drop a chemical hand warmer in each boot and then put some socks in each boot — will keep the boots from freezing overnight and will make them just a tad bit warmer when you go to put them on in the morning. Annual Klondike campout in a month in a half — can’t wait!

    • zmtroop99 c/s // December 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm // Reply

      thanks for the tip on the chemical hand warmer in the boots, im going to use that when we go on our skiing camp out.

  31. bob me uncle // December 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm // Reply

    thats cool

  32. Thank you for this post and for your site on the whole. I’ve just bookmarked it.

  33. Red light is excellent to use after dark – it enables you to see what your doing, and doesn’t diminish your night vision the way white light will. In addition to a headlamp I carry “Pak-lite” flashlights a lot – two LED lights that sit atop a standard 9V battery, with low and high beam capability. Very handy, and very easy to pack and carry.

  34. Thanx! I nearly paniced trying to find a list for my upcoming winter campout, then I found this!

  35. cheapmoneyman // January 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm // Reply

    a good undershirt to wear is underarmour. Cold gear is the best to have, but the heat gear works good to wick away body moisture. Just make sure to layer up!

  36. Please do not use your real name // September 16, 2009 at 10:07 pm // Reply

    if you have a pair of Winter Fly-Fishing waters those work real well for hiking and you look Shnazy LOL

  37. u should put warm sleeping bag and tent

  38. My troop dosen’t usually go on cold-weather outings very often. We usually have hot to warm weather outing. Now that I have this checklist I can encourge my troop to be prepared for cold-weather outings so we can convince our scoutmaster to organize one of these outing. Thanks Boyslife!

  39. lance armstrong // March 12, 2009 at 9:44 am // Reply

    headlamps r amazing!!!!!!!!

  40. new scout dad // March 11, 2009 at 1:16 am // Reply

    Agreed, a headlamp is a must. Much easier to use both hands for work. Make sure you get one with a low beam or even better, get one with a dim red light for reading, so you can see without blinding everyone around you.

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