Year-Round Camping Gear: Essentials For Every Weather Condition

Ever heard the saying, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing? 

You can camp no matter what.

It’s just a matter of being prepared.

This article will show you some essentials for keeping dry and warm or staying cool and happy.

Don’t Let The Rain Get You Down

Camping in the rain.

If you think: It probably won’t rain. It will probably rain. It’s one of the rules of outdoor life.

Rain can ruin a camping trip when it catches you off guard — so don’t let that happen.

Rain Gear

  • Rain jacket and rain pants - Water resistant and waterproof are different. Opt for waterproof. You also want it to be breathable. A good quality material will let moisture vapor (your sweat) travel out of the fabric, while keeping rain from getting in.
  • Poncho - these are lightweight and pack small and can serve as temporary shelter. The downside is they blow around in the wind and get caught on stuff on the trail.
  • Rainfly - Goes over your tent or above your hammock so you don’t get wet when you sleep.
  • Tarp - Set up a tarp as soon as you make camp. It will give you a covered spot to set up your tent or hammock.
  • Communal tarp - If you’re hiking with a group, consider a larger tarp so you’ll have an area to spend time together.
  • Waterproof stuff sacks - Nobody likes a wet sleeping bag. Waterproof sacks, or dry bags keep whatever you put in them dry.
  • Waterproof packs - You could also get an entire pack that’s waterproof. These tend to be more expensive.
  • Rain covers - These surround your pack to keep everything dry. Double up on the dryness protection and use dry bags as well.

Hot (But Not Bothered)

Hiking Joshua Tree in summer means 2 things.

It will be beautiful and you will be hot. Keeping hydrated, cool and not burned are the goals of hot weather hiking. 

Heat Gear

  • Long sleeves - It seems wrong. But long sleeves in a breathable fabric and light color will reflect the sun, keeping you cool and protect you from sunburn.
  • Hat - Get one with a brim that will cover your neck. Choose a breathable, quick drying fabric. Mesh allows airflow.
  • Hiking sandals - Keep your feet cooler with hiking sandals. They dry quickly if you walk through water. Plus- no sweaty socks.
  • Hydration - Staying hydrated is always important, but especially when it’s hot. Bladders go on your back with a tube that you can drink from as you go. For something more durable, go with a water bottle.
  • Shade fly - The same gear as a rain fly, but used to keep the sun off instead. Set one up over your camp to make things much cooler.

Blow, Wind, Blow

Wind can be a serious thing.

Just ask a tornado.

Here is some gear to keep from getting blown away on your next hike or camp.

Wind Gear

  • Tents - low tents are best in the wind. Look for a tent with a good wind rating. And be sure to use all the included tent stakes.
  • Windbreakers - A windproof jacket should withstand 60 mph wind (though that’s not regulated). Most waterproof jackets are also windproof. Avoid ponchos if it’s going to get windy.
  • Natural windbreaks - While a tarp can be set up to stop a heavy breeze, in high winds, a tarp can be dangerous. Look instead for large bushes that can buffer the prevailing wind.

Let It Snow

Camping in the snow.

Winter backpacking and camping is for the truly devoted outdoors enthusiast and it has its rewards — solitude, beauty and no bugs.

Here are a few things you’ll want to bring next time snow is on your itinerary.

Snow Gear

  • Underquilts - When hammock camping, you’ll want an underquilt
  • Tents - Make sure you have (and use) a footprint (tarp that goes under the tent)
  • Sleeping bags -  Get a bag that’s rated 5-15ºF colder than the lowest temps you expect to encounter
  • Snow jackets - Down is compressible and very warm, but doesn’t work if it gets wet. Compressible synthetics tend to be less expensive, will work when wet and the technology is rapidly approaching the warmth rating of down
  • Socks - Wool is naturally antimicrobial (less smelly), but dries more slowly than synthetic fibers.  Merino wool is blended with synthetic fibers so you get the best of both materials
  • Boots - Upgrade to waterproof and insulated. Just make sure your boots aren’t too tight. Your feet will freeze
  • Layers - The key to staying warm is layers. A base layer close to your body (wool, silk or synthetic work best).  Mid layer(s) add warmth without bulk (polyester fleece, down, and Merino wool are good). The outer layer shields you from the elements like snow and wind. Make sure these are waterproof and breathable

Weather, Shmether

It’s always a good time to get outdoors.

You just need to find the right gear so you can hike, camp or backpack all year round.

About the Author

After spending 5 years testing gear, meeting people and exploring his home state of Colorado with his wife, Andrej realized something about the outdoor industry. Mostly, that it was complicated. Andrej set out to create no-nonsense gear that was just as easy to use as it was reliable. He recruited a team of wilderness professionals and educators and hit the drawing board. The result was simple gear that you could trust, with specs you understood. Now he’s inspiring others to get out there and explore, by giving them the confidence to trust both themselves and the gear they use.