Winter camping is popular in New Zealand, especially with experienced outdoor enthusiasts like us. There are fewer people about, the change in seasons makes the scenery even more majestic, and there’s something about the challenge of camping in cooler climates that makes the experience even more rewarding. Of course, camping in winter can test you in a way that summer adventures can’t but common sense and excellent preparation will go a long way to keeping you safe and comfortable.

One thing you can prepare before you go is a camping menu that will give you the energy and warmth you require in a winter environment. It’s important to remember that your body’s caloric needs are so much higher in a winter camp environment than in a summer one. The University of Maryland recently released a study on nutritional needs while camping in winter and suggest that you need to consume anywhere between 3600 to 6000 calories per day! That’s a lot of hearty meals to be prepared on your camping stove in NZ conditions but during cold weather, it is required.

The University says this caloric intake should be split into three ways: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. According to them, a food triangle consisting of these three things would be made up like this:

  • Carbohydrates should make up 50 to 60% of your caloric intake as starches and sugars are metabolized easily by your body and provide quick energy. The simple sugars within a chocolate bar can give you an almost immediate energy release when you feel you’re flagging. On the other hand, complex carbs like pasta and grains take a little longer to metabolize and release energy more slowly than simple carbs but this will give ongoing stamina and warmth.
  • Fats are next in the triangle, making up 25 to 30% of caloric intake. They require the longest time for metabolizing which means they provide long term energy. They have twice the calories per kilo than carbs or proteins and can be obtained from oil, margarine, butter, nuts, cheese, and meat fats.  
  • Proteins make up 20% of the calorie triangle with the complex molecules metabolizing slowly and holding off hunger. Chicken based ready meals are an obvious source of protein as are some of the snack bars now available in our food range.

One final thing. The University of Maryland study also highlighted the importance of consuming plenty of water during winter camping. As winter is a low humidity environment, lost body fluids must be replaced due to respiration and evaporation, perspiration and excrement. The study recommends drinking often even if you’re not thirsty so take enough with you or be sure that there’s a source of clean water at your overnight camp spots.