Too cold to go outside? Sharona tells us why she thinks winter is actually prime time for camping.

On the 2nd of June, Canberra hit -4C, and I started prepping my winter camping duffel (a flannel, cold weather sleeping bag, beanie, scarf, mittens, and plenty of newspaper for lighting fires).

Generally, the colder it gets, the harder it is to convince my friends to come out camping on the weekends.

But the truth is, winter is secretly the best season to go camping. Here’s why.

There Are No Devil Mosquitos in Sight

I’m certain that on one summer camping trip, I got bitten by the first overeager mosquito before I’d even made it out of the car. Another time, a gust of wind blew a cloud of tiny flies into my partially unzipped tent, and we spent the whole night half-heartedly smacking them whenever they buzzed too close to our heads. I’ve been bitten by so many mosquitos in a weekend that I felt like one giant mosquito bite.

That’s summer camping for you, baby.



On the other hand, winter is blissfully mosquito-free. Leave the insect repellent and citronella at home! Wear short sleeves with abandon! The mosquitos are asleep, or on holiday, or simply somewhere warmer.

The Power of a Good Campfire

Back in 2019, I was a camp counsellor at a little summer camp in Vermont. Almost every single night for nine weeks, we gathered around a campfire – sometimes with cheap cans of PBR that lasted until the sun came up, sometimes with marshmallows and chocolate milk, and always content.



I’d never, never dream of having a campfire during summer in Australia. I grew up in Victoria during the Millennium drought and the 2009 Black Saturday fires, and I continue to be irrationally scared of lighting a fire that’ll accidentally set the entire state ablaze.

But winter – now that’s a different story. Throw some dry wood into your boot, double check fire restrictions for the place you’re going, and you’re on your way to the cosiest scenario I can imagine – rugged up in a down jacket and beanie, sitting around a crackling bonfire on a cold winter evening.

Summer camping’s got nothing on that.

It’s Quieter

I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that a lot of would-be explorers go exploring to get away from people; to find some peace and quiet.

But that can be difficult in the summer, when my favourite campgrounds are booked up with families on school holidays and big, rowdy groups.



In the winter, there are far more idyllic moments to be had. There have been plenty of times where my boyfriend and I have been the only souls to fall asleep in the campground, and the only ones to wake up on a chilly, sunny morning, warm in our sleeping bags.

The slow-moving winter light generally takes a while to make it over the treeline and hit our tent, and when it does, it warms the tent up enough to coax me out of my sleeping bag cocoon and into the morning for some fresh air and breakfast.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

The Downside

Of course, winter camping isn’t always perfectly peaceful and easygoing and wondrous. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it rains a lot.


Welcome to Mt Jagungal (We Got Mist and Rain) // Kosciuszko NP (NSW), Sam Christie, rocks, hiker, mist, fog, low vis

Photo by Sam Christie


Sometimes the kindling is damp and won’t catch, or you forget your beanie and your ears get cold.

But I’ve never regretted going camping in winter. Not even after waking up with cold toes, or rolling up a damp tent, or frantically trying to start a fire in the dark as the rain intensified, or getting a vicious cold. (Okay, maybe I regret the last one, a little.)

Because yes, winter is cold, and sometimes wet, and often dark, but the trials and tribulations of winter camping are more than offset by that crackling bonfire, or the frisson you get when you emerge from a tent into a crisp, clear winter morning. And ultimately, what’s a bit of rain when it means you get to be out and about in the great outdoors?


Feature image by Nic Morley