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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!”

11 Comments on Checklist for a Basic Cold Weather Outing

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

    thats cool

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

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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

  7. u should put warm sleeping bag and tent

  8. 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!

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

    headlamps r amazing!!!!!!!!

  10. 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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