'Meyvn Creative'
Outside Business Journal

Eric Larsen on the biggest winter camping mistakes

The polar explorer also shares his go-to meal in frigid weather

Kristen Kuchar

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

I’ll be honest: Cold weather camping has always scared me a bit. I love to camp during the fall and summer, but I honestly had never given much thought to doing it in the sub-freezing dead of winter. On paper, it’s not my idea of a good time. Then my boss asked me to attend “Into the Cold” press camp in Crested Butte, Colorado, to learn more about winter camping.

There, I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Ice Man, himself, polar explorer Eric Larsen. His passion for all things arctic rubbed off. If anyone needs a cold-weather camping buddy this winter, and doesn’t mind having a newbie along, hit me up.

Turns out, I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by winter camping. That’s exactly why Larsen is launching an eight-day winter expedition course in January for those adventure-seekers willing to brave the cold. I talked to the avid snow enthusiast to learn more:

What’s the biggest mistake people make when camping in winter?
The most common mistake that people make is sticking with something no matter how the conditions change. Whether it’s getting too warm or too cold outside or getting too tired themselves, I think the biggest problems arise when people don’t adapt to changing conditions. I try to emphasize constantly assessing your environment and your body and making both small and big adjustments to things like layering, hydration, sleeping, and more.

What is the most unexpected, yet essential, item we’d find with you on a cold weather journey?
Two things. I’m not sure if it’s unexpected, but I’m fanatical about bringing my Garmin inReach in any outdoor situation, especially if it’s just a day trip or short outing. I’ve had some of my most serious situations on shorter excursions. After that, soup. For longer days out in the cold, I usually take a small Stanley food jar filled with hot soup (I usually buy Lipton Cup O’ Soup because it’s convenient). Having hot soup in the middle of a freezing cold day is a great way to help with hydration and energy levels as well as something to look forward on the trail.

Tell us about your Polar Training Course. Who should take this course?
The course is designed as an introduction to winter camping and polar style travel. Based out of a remote cabin on Lake Winnipeg, we start slowly for the first three days alternating between more classroom style seminars then outside to practice new skills skiing, setting up camp, cooking, sleeping in the cold, and more. The second half of the course is a small expedition on Lake Winnipeg where temperatures routinely drop to well below zero.

I think this course is a good building block for a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts. From someone who simply wants to learn more about winter camping and traveling in the cold to someone planning their own extreme weather expedition. Equally important, a lot of the skills and concepts that we discuss apply very directly to nearly all outdoor activities.

promo logo