Kate Donald loves snow camping so much you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s one of those Pygmy possums that live under the Australian snowpack. So we decided to ask her what gear she recommends when camping in the alpine.


Aside from freezing my tits off, I love everything about snow camping. From scoring sunset snowboard laps down to camp, to shovelling snow to form the perfect tent platform. Heck, some of the most unforgettable views have been enjoyed on a midnight trip to the loo in the snow.

Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Snow Camping


A Beginner's Guide to snow camping, Kate Donald, kosciuszko, jagungal, tent, snow, backcountry, nsw,


However, the idea of snow camping can be daunting at first. Just the thought of what to pack can feel overwhelming, when in reality the checklist for winter camping is, surprisingly, not that different from a regular overnight hiking trip packing list.

All the essentials are still necessary, like a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, camp kitchen, toiletries, and a couple of additional layers, however, the emphasis is simply on warmer, and sturdier gear.

This is my packing list and the gear I use on an overnight snow camping mission, plus some extra tips to keep you toasty during your next winter adventure!

1. Tent

Unless the plan is to build an igloo or snow cave, bring a four-season tent in the height of winter. A three-season tent may suffice in the Australian mountains in late spring, when there is still snow around but the temperatures have begun to rise, but for a comfortable night on snow, I strongly recommend investing in a winter-rated tent that will withstand the harsh weather conditions.


A Beginner's Guide to snow camping, Kate Donald, kosciuszko, jagungal, tent, snow, backcountry, nsw, whites river hut


My pick for a four-season tent is the Hillebeg Allak 2P. It’s an absolutely bomb-proof tent that provides plenty of space for hunkering down in a storm. Regardless of which tent you choose, don’t forget the snow pegs to ensure those guy lines stay put in the snow.


2. Sleeping Mat

All too often people focus on the warmth rating of their sleeping bag, and forget all about the humble sleeping mat. Much of the body’s heat can be lost to the frozen ground beneath you, so it’s important to have a thick layer of insulation between you and the snow.

My pick for a winter-rated sleeping mat is the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Insulated which I have reviewed here.

With an R-value over 6 and 10cm thick, this is the warmest and most comfortable mat out there (IMO).


Etherlight XT Extreme Sleeping Mat - Review, Kate Donald - Sea to Summit, Sleeping Mat, Gear, Alpine, snow, camping


Spent all your money on a four-season tent? Then pick up a cheaper, closed cell mat such as the Thermarest Z-Lite, and lay it under your current inflatable mat to beef up the insulation.


3. Sleeping Bag

Unless you sleep warm, and I mean really warm, a sleeping bag with a comfort rating in the negatives is recommended even in Australian snow conditions.



The last thing anyone wants is to sleep in every layer possible, and still be freezing cold, all night long. My pick for singles is the Sea to Summit Flame IV. It’s got a comfort rating of -10 and weighs in at 890g.

This sleeping bag had my heart until I discovered the Sea to Summit Amplitude AmIII Double which I reviewed here. It’s an absolute game-changer for any couple wanting to snuggle up in the snow.


4. Camp Kitchen

I confess, I’m no expert when it comes to different winter camp kitchen set ups. I’ve always used a gas stove for all types of camping, as they’re lightweight, easy to use and result in a speedy meal.

Almost every stove can be taken from summer to winter, however the type of gas you choose is important. In winter an Isobutane fuel (20% propane and 80% isobutane) works best in the cold weather.

My pick is the Jetboil Jetpower Fuel. Try to avoid leaving the gas canisters out in the snow overnight. Wrap them in a beanie or sock and keep them inside the tent.

This is so your gas doesn’t get too cold and stop working next time you want a hot chocolate! A gas canister stand is also a handy purchase to stabilize the stove and avoid the canister from freezing into the snow when cooking.

5. Emergency Poo Kit

The alpine environment is an extremely sensitive area, so everything carried in must be carried out, and I mean everything. Carrying an ‘Emergency Poo Kit’ aka a poo tube, is essential for backcountry camping without a hut loo nearby.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a ‘Poo Tube’, check out Hiking Hygiene 101. I like to store some doggy bags, toilet paper and hand sanitiser in a dark coloured dry bag, that can be stashed down the bottom of the pack if not needed, or subtly hung on the outside of the pack in the event of an emergency.

Read more: Long Live the Poo Tube! – Why It Might Be Time We Start Packing Out All of Our Turds

6. Toiletries

On 1-2 night trips, I keep my toiletries to a minimum. Usually, I’ll just pack a toothbrush plus toothpaste, and fully embrace the wild hair skier stank.

However, since reviewing the Sea to Summit Airlite Towel  I make sure to always throw one of these into my pack. They’re perfect for drying wet feet after a river crossing and weigh next to nothing.

7. Down Booties/Spare Socks

The first thing everyone wants to do the moment they arrive to camp is to take off their boots. Not only is it nice to slide into a pair of comfy slippers, but the convenience of not having to put ski or snowboard boots back on after a big day is worth the additional pack weight.


Down Boots Versus Ugg Boots — Which Is The Ultimate Winter Shoe?


My pick is the Thermoball Traction Mule’s from The North Face which Gear Editor Matt recently reviewed. These have a thicker sole than typical hut booties, providing extra traction for walking over snow.

Read: Best Down Booties In Australia 2023 — 9 Sleeping Bags For Your Feet

8. Clothing Layers

Be it a day trip, or an overnight adventure, my layering system in the snow is almost always the same. Starting with a high-quality base layer.

I opt for a breathable, quick drying fabric such as merino, to ensure I don’t go to bed in wet clothes. My pick is the Mons Royale Cascade Merino Flex 200 Long Sleeve & Leggings which keep me warm, dry and come in a range of coloured prints.

Next up, I carry a couple of mid-layers including a lightweight fleece for day wear, and a down jacket + pant combo for wearing around camp. My pick is the North Face Summit Future Fleece Full Zip Hoodie, and the Patagonia Down Sweater Insulated Hoody, paired with the Montbell Light Down Pants.

9. Shovel

For backcountry skiers and snowboarders, a shovel should already be packed in your avalanche gear set-up, however it’s essential for overnight camping to help build the perfect tent platform and snow wall.


A Beginner's Guide to snow camping, Kate Donald, kosciuszko, jagungal, tent, snow, backcountry, nsw


For those unsure of how or where to even start digging, we’ve got you covered with a Beginners Guide to Snow Camping.

10. Assorted Essentials

It’s important to mention that the above items are gear I take specifically for snow camping trips. Regardless of it being an overnight or day trip, these essentials will always be in my pack for winter backcountry travel:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Repair Kit
  • Avalanche Gear: Beacon, Probe, Shovel
  • Water
  • GPS and/or Map/Compass
  • Food/Snacks
  • Beanie/Sun Hat
  • Neck warmer/Buff
  • Sunglasses & Goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • Gloves (Inners and Outers)
  • Additional layers + Outerwear


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For an explanation on all of the above check out our Packing List for Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding.

When all else fails, here’s how to build an igloo. But in all seriousness, pack smart, keep an eye on the weather and consider going with someone experienced and skilled to get started. Oh and don’t forget to have fun!



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