Most tents get packed away in the winter, but the cold weather can be a wonderful time to get away and explore the great outdoors. From enjoying unique wildlife and elevating your mood to your first glamping experience, this article explains why. Let’s get started.
You get the chance to see more wildlife
Spring is often perceived as the best time to see wildlife: it’s the season of fresh life and new beginnings, after all. But that doesn’t mean wintertime is without merit.
Winter camping provides a wonderful opportunity to see some unique wildlife, particularly if you’re interested in birdwatching. The UK, for example, welcomes a variety of bird species from the north and east during annual autumnal migration. These birds fly home in spring, so winter is generally the best time to spot them in the great outdoors.
Our favourite winter visitor is the Redwing. It is the smallest thrush species found in Britain, and can easily be identified by its warm orange underwing. You may also come across Fieldfare, Sanderling, or even a striking Pink-footed goose (find a full list of winter wanderers in the Countryfile guide).
Of course, winter campers have to come prepared if they want to get a closer look at nature.
As well as layering up to shield against the biting cold, bringing a handy pair of binoculars wouldn’t go amiss. Binoculars are great for getting a clear view of nature without disturbing its surrounding habitat.
Wildlife charities such as the RSPB tend to be excellent places to buy binoculars. This is because the money you spend is reinvested in a variety of conservation projects, perhaps even one near your campsite. If you’re new to birding, we recommend opting for 8X magnification for easier control and a wider field of view. More experienced birders may be interested in 10X magnification for a narrow field of view over a much longer distance.
The cold has some surprising health benefits
Camping and connecting with nature goes hand in hand with a myriad of intrinsic health benefits (like the ones listed by Mind): your mind will react positively to all the green space, you’ll notice your mood improving, and your feelings of stress and anger will ebb away.
Although you won’t be soaking up vitamin D from the sun, camping in the cold has its own unique set of benefits. According to NBC News, being out in the cold can charge up your immune system. It can do this by promoting an active lifestyle in the fresh air, which can flush bacteria out of your airways.
Of course, the cold is also physically demanding, especially in the depths of winter. Every individual’s tolerance for the cold is different, after all. To ensure the cold isn’t too cold, there are many safety tips you should adhere to. Here are a few examples:
- Do your research and check upcoming weather conditions.
- Have a trial run in your garden (or somewhere you can easily retreat inside).
- Pack lots of food, particularly carbohydrates in bulk to maintain sufficient calories.
- Get appropriately-practical gear (this is a great list for reference).
- Layer up to keep as warm as possible.
There are many benefits of camping out in the cold so long as you come prepared with the right equipment: a sturdy tent and a thick jacket will quickly become your best friends.
It’s a great opportunity to try glamping
Okay. The cold isn’t for you, and the thought of facing the frost in a tent and sleeping bag chills your bones. But that’s not to say the great outdoors is completely off-limits: glamping can make camping accessible for all, not just the passionate few.
Glamping continues to be one of the hottest holiday trends, with Pitchup — an outdoor holiday booking platform — recording a 206% increase in arrivals during September and October last year. Meanwhile, luxury hotel sites saw up to a 32% reduction in business.
For those who want to make the most of the outdoors in a semblance of comfort during the winter, glamping is certainly a great option. There are many sustainability-focused glamping spots throughout the world, particularly in the UK and Europe.
These secret yurts in mid-Wales offer a great example. Situated among the trees in Powys, you can wander the forest, enjoy the fresh air, and escape to nature during the day. At night, you can cosy up to a warm fire and all the comforting amenities you’d expect from a hotel.