While fall camping and hiking is by far the most gorgeous time of year to be outdoors, it can also prove treacherous – and real cold. Make sure you’re prepped for fall adventures with these 10 expert level must-haves.
Fall is here – and the great outdoors are calling. Camping and hiking beneath the golds, reds, and ambers of autumn is like nothing else nature has to offer. And for many exploring enthusiasts, it’s the best season of the year.
Cold weather can be brilliant for a hike and bonfire-laden camping. For a lot of outdoorsmen and women, it’s also a whole lot more pleasant to not sweat yourself into a coma while trying to enjoy nature. If you plan on camping in weather below a balmy 50 degrees fahrenheit, however, you’re going to need a whole new set of gear. This happens a lot more often than you’d think during fall camping, too.
In addition to pinpointing the gear you’ll need – we’ve selected top-rated Amazon Prime products for purchase, too. Each of these highly-rated, expert level items is a must for cold weather camping. And the best part? Each of these will roll right over into winter camping, as well.
- Best Deal: Nalgene 32 oz Reusable Water Bottle
- Best-Reviewed Item: A18 Carhartt Acrylic Stocking Hat
- Staff Choice: Carhartt W.P. Waterproof Insulated Glove
- Most Vital Item: Coleman cold-rated “mummy” sleeping bag
Closed-Cell Foam Sleeping Pad
Firstly, having any old sleeping pad or yoga mat won’t cut it for cold-weather camping. For anything close to ground-freezing temperatures – which is 36* and below – a normal, non-closed-cell mat will suck the body heat right out of you. This’ll not only leave you cold and miserable, but is also a fast track to illness. Hypothermia is a real threat with late fall and winter camping, as well.
REDCAMP’s Closed Cell Foam Camping Sleeping Pad will do the trick. According to over 300 5-star ratings, this affordable thermal mat gets the job done. The thermal capture surface on foam camping mat reflects heat back to your body. It also amplifies the warmth of the heat-trapping nest by 20%.
- reflects heat back to your body
- amplifies the warmth of the heat-trapping nest by 20%
- Not-thickly padded, concentration is on heat-retention
Low-Temp Rated “Mummy” Sleeping Bag
Your sleeping mat, however well insulating, won’t mean anything without the right sleeping bag. Your dad’s old parachute sleeping bag from the 70s won’t cut it here. For cold fall and winter overnighting, you’ve got to have a low-temperature rated sleeping bag. We can’t stress enough how important this is. But if you’re here – chances are you get it.
Amazon has a lot of cold-rated bags available. For our part, we recommend the WINNER OUTFITTERS mummy bag seen above. It’s affordable, compact, and durable, with over 3K reviews and a near-solid 5 star rating. And at $34.99, their price is also hard to beat.
Many campers, however, are Coleman fans. The brand has a strong history with quality items. Their own Coleman cold-rated mummy bag is also exceptionally well rated on Amazon. For this one, you’re looking at a price tag of $49.99.
Both are worthy investments. Mummy bags are designed so you sleep comfortably. They also keep you warm from top to bottom. Each uses special quilting construction to eliminates potential cold spots. The full-length draft tube blocks heat loss through the zipper and prevent cold entering. In addition, a box-shaped foot gives you extra room to move your feet. When you’re done, it’s easy to put it away in the stuff sack.
- special quilting construction to eliminates potential cold spots
- full-length draft tube blocks heat loss through the zipper and prevent cold entering.
- Portable in “stuff sack”
- Not for claustrophobics
- limited-range of movement for tossy sleepers
Layers, Layers, Layers – Starting with Socks
Layers, layers, layers. While a jacket usually seems obvious, the trick to successful cold weather adventuring isn’t actually wearing the biggest, warmest things you can find. It’s layering.
For cold weather & fall camping, you need to be able to regulate your own temperature. For example, inexperienced campers will throw on a t-shirt with a huge winter coat over the top and call it ready. This, however, leaves you absolutely unable to reach any sort of middle ground in a tent or while sleeping, cooling off, etc. Layering allows for you to meet in the middle to keep your temperature comfortable in any situation.
A great place to start for this is with wool socks. Unless you plan to sleep in your boots (please don’t), your feet are absolutely going to freeze in any sleeping bag without the right socks. The Carhartt® Arctic Wool Boot Crew Socks “will shield you from the cold tundra of winter!” And they’ll do it for a decent $18-26 depending on your size. They’re sold as a one-pair pack. These crew-cut style sit at the calf, as well.
Carhartt is another excellent brand you can trust for outdoor, rugged quality. They provide the same socks for women at almost half the price, too. Carhartt Women’s Extremes Cold Weather Boot Sock are $9-20 depending on size.
“This boot sock keeps you warm, dry and protected in all environments, even extreme cold. Acrylic/Merino Wool blend regulates temperature so you are completely comfortable no matter where you are.”
- Acrylic/Merino Wool blend regulates temperature
- Proven Carhartt brand
- Pricey for a single pair of socks
COST: $9-26 depending on size
Long Underwear – Polypropylene FTW
In addition to wool socks, long underwear is the way to go for fall camping. Taking the place of old-school long johns, the new wave of polypropylene and spandex wearables make for super-insulating underwear without sacrificing breathability.
For adventuring women, Amazon has the highly-rated MANCYFIT Thermal Underwear sets for $15.99 to 39.99. Price differs according to the size and color you want. There’s a lot of options here, too.
“Perfect for cold weather, comfy stretch softwear in normal thickness is lightly fleece lined, lightweight but warm, works excellently during your winter activities like snowboarding for added warmth and thermal insulation.”
For the men, we recommend Thermajohn Men’s Ultra Soft Thermal Underwear, which sits at a decent $25.99 while on sale. This “2 Piece thermal set is ultra soft, warm, comfortable and great to add an extra layer of warmth under your clothes.”
- added warmth and thermal insulation
- super-insulating underwear without sacrificing breathability
- ultra soft & comfortable
- Hard to size without trying on
- Can cause to overheat if worn during warm days
Waterproof, Insulated Gloves
Right off the bat – make sure your gloves are waterproof. If there’s any chance of your hands getting wet, you’ll want to keep them as dry as possible. As a result – dry hands are warm hands. If there’s even a chance of encountering snow, you’ll absolutely want waterproof gloves and gear, as well.
These Carhartt W.P. Waterproof Insulated Glove are a solid deal at $21.95. In addition to keeping your hands dry, the insulation will keep you cozy on brisk hikes or on cold nights.
“The Carhartt WP Glove is waterproof and sweat wicking. As a result, they keep your hands warm and dry. Your hands are your tools, as well. Protect them with the glove designed to outwork them all.” And PRO-TIP: Be wary of any glove that says “water resistant.” This is NOT the same thing as waterproof.
- 100% Waterproof**** and sweat wicking
- insulated for cold weather & winds
- Insulation makes for larger, clunky gloves
- No touch-sensitive pads for device use
Wind-Proof Tent & Ground Anchors
With cold weather comes windy conditions. Nothing is worse than your tent being ripped out of the ground by frigid winds. And it happens a lot more often than you think it will without the right gear. Don’t settle for the cheapo’ standard plastic stakes that come with most packaged tents.
Corkscrew anchors like the 7Penn Spiral Ground Anchors above are super-easy to ground. The included bar allows you to screw them right into the soil. In addition, their corkscrew shape places them firmly into the earth. As a result, they can’t come flying out of the soil when your tent becomes a sail.
- super-easy to ground
- included bar allows you to screw right into the soil
- Cannot be tugged out by high winds
- Expensive sets
- may not work in rocky terrain
Nutrient-Dense Snack Bars
Fibers, amino acids, natural sugars, and proteins are all things your body thrives off of when hiking. If you’re out camping in the cold, however, your body needs even more of these to function and keep warm.
These Quest Nutrition Chocolate Mixed Nuts Snack Bars (Pack of 12) are a solid way to go.
Amazon sells a box of 12 at $14.38 – which is a good deal comparatively to most other brands. Quest’s bars, too, are packed with more than other bars that just put in “protein” and call it a day. As mentioned, Quest’s recipes pack in tons of fiber, amino acids, natural sugar, proteins, and carbs to keep you all toasty and warm.
As a good rule of thumb – always take more than you need. Staying warm is hard work for the human body in the cold. This box of twelve would be good for a two-day, two-person stay. If you plan on being out in the wilderness of a week, however – you’ll want at least 24 bars.
- Far more than just a “protein bar”
- Fibers, amino acids, natural sugars, and proteins
- Small, thin, easy to pack
- Small size also means these are snack bars, not meals
Plastic, Wide-Mouth Water Bottle
For this one, we’re calling in the big guns for reinforcement. Your Tervis or favorite metal water bottle is not your friend on cold hikes, period. In addition, those used to hiking with drink bladders will find them freezing. Both may do okay for temperate fall ventures. Any true-cold nights, or closer-into-winter hikes, however, and you’re going to be in trouble.
According to SectionHiker.com, “Hydration bladders and hoses freeze in winter, even insulated ones. You’ll want to carry wide-mouth 1 liter bottles instead, because the lids are less likely to freeze and they’re easier to open while wearing gloves. The best winter water bottles are wide-mouth because they don’t crack like the clear ones when they get cold or you pour boiling hot water into them. Don’t even think about bringing a metal bottle on a winter hike. You’ll be laughed at before you’re kicked off the hike.”
PRO-TIP: Sleep with your water bottle inside your sleeping bag with you if you’re in freezing temperatures. Lukewarm water is far more drinkable than a frozen water bottle. It’s also a lot easier to drink than frigid water in frigid weather.
- lids are less likely to freeze
- easier to open while wearing gloves
- don’t crack when they get cold
- Can pour hot water into
- No insulation provided
- Not as durable as metal alternatives
Ladies, Be FUD-Ready
Alright gents, this one is for the ladies. We all know it’s a thousand times easier for a male to urinate outdoors. Modern technology has leveled the playing field, however.
The Tinkle Belle Female Urination Device is just that – the FUD of your dreams. This portable urinal is completely washable and reusable and comes with a case of the same nature. Don’t ever be caught out on a long hike or fall camping trip cursing yourself for not having access to a bathroom again. Amazon sells these upper-end FUDs for $27.50. The reason we list this one first – is it totes itself as being able to be used while fully-clothed. This will certainly come in handy while trying to stay warm during cold fall camping & hiking.
Not-so-Pro-Tip: FUD stands for Female Urination Device. You’re welcome.
- able to be used while fully-clothed
- washable, reusable
- No need to find toilets
- Needs washing regularly
- takes up a larger amount of packing space
Stocking Hat w/ High Coverage
Finally, you’ll want a stocking hat that has high coverage. Simple but effective ones – like this classic Carhartt – work great. With a foldable flap, this cap adjusts to be able to cover your ears or uncover them as needed. This is invaluable in protecting said ears from the cold – and your ear canals from damaging icy winds.
Amazon sells the A18 model Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat for a solid $16.99. It comes in a huge variety of colors, as well:
- Plenty of style options
- Proven, highly durable Carhartt weave
- Dozens of color options
- Foldable flaps for adjustable coverage
- Thinner material may not be suitable for freezing cold
- Hand-wash only
And don’t forget a nice pair of hiking boots!
As more and more people head into camping and hiking due to the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s never possible to be over-prepared.
Whether this was your first introduction to fall camping gear – or you’re a cold weather pro – we hope the items listed here go a long way in making your next adventure as enjoyable as possible. And warm, too.
If you’re looking to expand your fall camping gear even further, we’ve got a great list of 17 Amazon Camping Supplies You Didn’t Know You Needed, as well.