It’s been a long, long winter. Maybe you’ve had to miss out on your annual ski trip, or had to minimize holiday celebrations. In a season where getting outside is tough to begin with, these past few months have involved more Netflix than I’d like to admit, and depending on where you live, we’ve still got a couple of months to go. But all hope for trying new things is not lost! If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where it doesn’t reach -30°C in the winter months, then there’s no reason you can’t spend a little time in nature, despite the chilly weather!

My boyfriend and I were recently invited by a friend to spend the night at their camp, located at the beautiful Dee Lake Wilderness Resort in Lake Country, British Columbia. The resort has a variety of accommodation options, including spaces that allow users to set-up long-term camps, which was exactly what we were about to experience. No fuss, no frills, and nature at its finest.

Dee Lake snow
Photo: Nikki Gillingham

Winter camping, even in relatively mild temperatures, isn’t something to take lightly. It requires planning, preparation, and a bit of spirit to get you through the evening! 

Now, I’ll admit that we got the easy end of the winter camping stick. We just had to show up with enough warm layers, a simple meal for dinner, and a few beers for the evening. Our friend had previously purchased, gutted, and insulated an old trailer which he parked on his lot at the resort. Inside included a shelf and enough space for 4 adults to sleep. It wasn’t quite a tent, but it was the next best thing.

The trailer was being heated using a small generator that was occasionally charged up with the truck. I’ll stop there, because I won’t pretend to understand the logistics of how it was set up.

Aside from the small heater working hard to keep us toasty while we slept, the rest of the amenities were outside of the trailer: a camp stove, a porta-potty, and of course the best part and most important necessity on any camping trip — the campfire.

Temperatures dropped to about -8°C that evening, but we were comfortable sitting around the fire with no chills to be found.

Why? Layers.

Arguably the most critical thing to have when winter camping, whether you’re in a tent, a small trailer, or even a cottage heated with a wood-stove, is a lot of warm layers. Do not underestimate how cold it will be, and do not worry about overpacking (particularly if you’re driving into your site and not hiking. Fill that car!)

Dee Lake Fire Pit
Photo: Nikki Gillingham

We arrived already dressed warmly (it is winter, after all) but brought warmer versions of everything, items that could be easily layered on top of each other, hats and mittens, of course, and several blankets.

Despite the fact that it felt borderline warm next to the fire, it was still chilly inside the (heated) trailer when we called it a night. Again, layers and lots of warm blankets were critical to getting through the evening.

If you’re planning on venturing out for some cold weather camping — whether in a tent, trailer, or cabin — it’s important to be prepared for the elements. What happens if you get wet? Is there enough wood to keep the fire burning? Are the facilities open? Is there open water nearby, and if so, has it been cold enough that it’s thoroughly frozen if you choose to walk on it?

Check out this list from MEC for a winter camping gear checklist.

If old trailers and cooking outside aren’t your idea of a good time when there’s snow on the ground, I still highly recommend checking out Dee Lake Wilderness Resort for a little getaway in nature! Dee Lake was established in 1926 as an old heritage fishing resort that today features both modern cottages and heritage log cabins (and those camping sites!).

Set around a secluded lake, this is truly an escape to nature and only 45 minutes from the Lake Country municipality. There are no lights other than what other visitors put up on their sites, so if you’re outside on a clear night you’ll have an awe-inspiring view of the stars over the lake. The setting is perfect for snowshoeing and ice-fishing, or just for sitting around the fire (campfire or woodstove) and relaxing with a good book and hot drink. The resort is also pet-friendly, for those with fur-babies they can’t leave behind!

Personally, I love staying anywhere with history and charm, and Dee Lake is certainly that, no matter what kind of accommodations you choose. A truly rustic, winter experience — it’s worth telling Netflix you’re no longer watching and getting outside for some of that cool, fresh winter air.

  • Dee Lake inside cabin
  • Dee Lake General Store