It almost goes without saying you need a four season tent, but which one to choose – our current favourite is the MSR Access (available in 1,2 or 3 person models). The solo version weighs just 1.3kg, unthinkable for a true four season tent a few years ago.
We have to admit MSR have it covered, if it’s just a 4 season basic 2 person shelter you need we have their updated Twin Sisters tarp shelter, or if its more protection for extreme environments check out their Remote series of tents.
We’d recommend a bag that has a Comfort Limit down to -10C for UK winter camping that’s a sweeping generalisation and if you are a cold sleeper you might want to consider going even lower. The recommendation also assumes full body coverage in the bag (socks, long-johns, base-layer), and backup down clothing just in case.
Having established a rating which bag would we choose? As an ultralight winter bag Rab’s new Mythic 600 sleeping bag ticks all the boxes and would be our lightest choice, less expensive options exist though, either not quite as warm or heavier – these are Marmots Helium bag or Sea to Summit Talus TS11.
Insulation is the key to a winter sleeping mat – thankfully most manufacturers have them tested so you can compare one against another, this makes the choice straight forward. I would also choose a rectangular mat rather than a Mummy one for Winter camping as you are less likely to come off it, if your legs come off in the night you can get cold quite quickly.
For the same reason you may want to consider an oversized mat, but giving the weight penalty this would be a personal choice.
Our recommendation would be Thermarest’s NeoAir XthermMax SV, at around 570grams its still very light but offers full insulation from the cold ground. This is a new mat for Spring 2018 and it now features a ‘Speed Valve’ which takes the effort out of blowing it up, if you’ve not seen a Speed Valve in operation check out this VIDEO.
Exped’s Downmat UL Winter M Regular Sleeping Mat, with an R-Value over 1.0 would be another alternative at about the same weight and insulation value, it is made from 75D fabric throughout whereas the Xtherm has 30D on the top and 70D on the bottom.
If you’ve ever used screw on gas canisters in very cold conditions you will have no doubt gone out and bought a liquid fuel stove as soon as you got home. Low temperatures kills off the pressure in a cylinder causing the gas to trickle out rather than spurt into your stove burner head.
There are some innovative ideas around for improving this performance but if you do a lot of winter camping there is only one choice, liquid fuels.
Outside the UK you may have to burn dirty fuels, of which the worst is Kerosene, if this is the case then the best option may be the MSR XGK stove which has established itself as an expedition workhorse.
If though, you are likely to have access to clean fuel, such as so-called ‘White Gas’ then our immediate recommendation is the award winning Soto Muka stove, all the benefits (cold weather performance) of a liquid fuel stove with virtually the convenience of a gas stove.
There are lots of other kit choices to make – why not read our ‘Ten tips for Winter camping article, which suggests a few?