Winter camping – With the camper to the ski area

03/10/2023 - SnowTrex

Travelling with your mobile home and sleeping in your own bed at your holiday destination – cheap and individual holidays are what make camping so appealing. The passion of campers even goes so far that holidays in a van are no longer limited to the summer. Winter camping is the trend! However, in contrast to the summer variant, there are a few things to consider when camping in the snow. SnowTrex knows 12 facts that make winter camping a complete success.

Taking a motorhome on a skiing holiday: SnowTrex presents important information on the subject of winter camping.


Camping on a ski holiday

For motorhome fans, being able to take their own four walls with them wherever they go is the greatest luxury. What could be more cosy than sitting in your own heated living room and watching the snowflakes fall, then stepping outside the “front door”, sniffing the fresh mountain air and enjoying the view? Campsites can be found everywhere in the Alpine regions and there, fortunately, they are often located near popular ski resorts. Whether Ötztal, Zillertal, Arlberg or Seefeld – Austria is a camper country. Even in South Tyrol or Switzerland, you can find the large-scale caravan sites for the somewhat different ski holidays. They all have one thing in common: guests stay in the smallest possible space in a private living room and bedroom and can often expect the amenities of a hotel outside the van. Nevertheless, winter campers should be prepared.

Winter camping is the highlight of the year for many holidaymakers.

The right winter campsite

With all the romance in the snow, the temperatures are low and winter sports are intense, so winter sports enthusiasts with motorhomes then do want a little comfort at the winter camping site. So many operators have adapted to winter camping. The basic equipment of a campsite includes sanitary facilities with showers and washrooms, as well as electricity and water supply and waste water disposal at the pitch. In addition, winter campsites should be equipped with services such as drying rooms for ski boots and clothing or a ski depot. The larger campsites often have small shops with bistros, kiosks, and supermarkets for daily needs. Wi-Fi is available in the main buildings of the respective area and sometimes even a sauna is integrated.

Many campsites have a sauna on site.

Nature lovers who want a really luxurious winter camping holiday should go to a luxury or star campsite. On the one hand, luxury is reflected in the comfort of the pitches, where winter-proof supply pillars for electricity, water and waste water are available, as well as fixed gas connections or gas bottles on request. For daily needs, there are showers, changing tables, washing machines, dryers, and a scullery, all located in enclosed buildings. Secondly, some of these campsites are equipped like high-priced hotels – for example with a chic restaurant serving typical regional cuisine, a bistro, a modern spa with sauna, a wine bar, a sun terrace or the obligatory ski drying room. For even more privacy, some pitches also offer a private bathroom directly at the pitch.

Campsites directly at the ski area

Camping in winter allows ski holidaymakers to enjoy the unique flair of winter and the mountains in an entirely different way. Staying at a campsite is even more attractive for winter sports enthusiasts if it is located directly at the ski area. In this way, winter campers avoid exhausting and some nerve-racking journeys by ski bus. In addition, they have the opportunity to be among the first to ski down the freshly groomed slopes or the untouched powder slopes on beautiful ski days. This is certainly an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

In the Glitschberg Jochtal ski region, for example, the Lärchwiese nature campsite is located directly below the lifts of the Gitschberg Jochtal-Brixen ski area. The pistes, which are among the most popular downhill runs in South Tyrol, are therefore nearby and easy to reach.

Snow lovers who prefer to go to Switzerland are guaranteed to find what they are looking for at Camping RinerLodge. Here, too, guests benefit from the immediate proximity to the slopes. In addition to electricity, fresh water and a dishwashing room, the highlight of the campsite is its location at the valley station of the Rinerhorn mountain railway, which is nearby. Camping lovers also get their money’s worth in Samnaun in Switzerland. The Sport & Camping Samnaun at the border triangle of Italy, Austria, and Switzerland is not only close to the ski lifts, but also directly on the piste. This gives winter sports enthusiasts the opportunity to strap on their skis right in front of the van and start skiing. The Zeblas valley run leads directly back to the camper van site at the end of a varied day of skiing. You probably won’t find more proximity to the slopes anywhere else.

Camping with children

In the summer months, many families are drawn to camping holidays. In winter, however, many shy away because of the cold temperatures, especially if children are on board. However, there is little reason for this because with the right precautions, camping in winter also becomes a unique and joyful experience for young and old.

Free, simple pitches definitely have their appeal, but especially in winter, campsites with a basic infrastructure are a good choice, going on the holiday much more comfortable and uncomplicated. After an exhausting day on the slopes, for example, a warm shower is almost indispensable, which is part of the basic equipment of campsites. In addition, the included connection to a 230V power supply, which can be used on campsites, prevents the heating from failing. No one really wants to be cold on holiday.

Going on a winter camping holiday with the family is an unforgettable experience for young and old.

Especially when travelling with the whole family, the limited space in the caravan or mobile home should be used optimally. A drying room at the campsite is an advantage, where ski and snowboard equipment can be stored and dried.

When camping with the whole family, you should also consider bringing along an awning. This can serve as a supplementary storage area and also provides additional insulation. A shoe rack is another important gadget that is indispensable when camping in winter. The children romp around outside and bring a lot of dirt into the camper due to the wetness and cold temperatures. The use of shoe racks can serve as a dirt trap in such a case. These can be placed either in the awning or in the driver’s cabin and ensure that the camper stays clean.

You should also take enough toys with you to keep the children occupied. In addition to a selection of board games for the evening hours, toys for outdoor activities, such as children’s snow shovels or toboggans, bring a lot of joy. Of course, at least a handful of carrots must also be brought along for the many snowmen that will be built.

Indispensable and of utmost importance when travelling with the whole family is the right winter clothing for children so that they do not freeze.

Camping over Christmas and New Year’s Eve

For many holidaymakers, it has long become a habit to travel over Christmas and New Year. Most head for holiday destinations with high temperatures to escape the cold, but a camping holiday over the holidays also has a lot to offer. Especially at Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it is common for many campsites to have Christmas activities and a fun, joy-bringing programme. For example, winter campers at VITAL Camping Bayerbach have the opportunity to take part in a children’s nativity party or torchlight hike, find relaxation and peace at a long spa night or enjoy the New Year’s Eve ball with a 4-course menu.

At Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it is common for many campsites to offer Christmas activities.

The Carinthia region with its numerous winter campsites also attracts holidaymakers to beautiful Austria over the holidays. Whether it’s the Advent market in Villach, ice skating on Lake Afritz or a torchlight hike in the Dobratsch Nature Park – there’s an activity to suit every winter holidaymaker.

Winter camping in Germany

One of the most famous and probably also one of the most popular ski areas in Germany is the Garmisch-Classic ski area, which is located directly on the Zugspitze. Due to the altitude of up to 2,720 m, months of snow fun are guaranteed on the glacier. But Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not only a popular destination for its skiing. There are two top campsites in Grainau that guarantee a wonderful, wintery stay. The camping sites Camping Resort Zugspitze and its sister site Camping Erlebnis Zugspitze offer optimal conditions for a winter camping holiday, with frost-proof water and waste water connections and gas connections. There is also a drying room for ski and snowboard equipment and a wellness area for relaxation after a hard day on the slopes. The connection to the ski area is also ideal: in just a few minutes by bus, snow lovers can reach the valley station of the Zugspitze or the “snow express” to the local mountain.

Wintercamping in Austria

Probably the most popular destination for ski tourists is beautiful Austria. The Montafon Brandnertal ski region in particular attracts numerous visitors every year with its breathtaking mountain scenery and more than 200 kilometres of pistes, and winter campers are also guaranteed to get their money’s worth here. The Camping Nova campsite is located in Gaschurn. In addition to electricity connections and sanitary facilities, the site impresses with a cosy common room for young and old. With the direct bus connection, the nearest skiing area can be reached comfortably from here.

In the breathtaking ski region of Montafon, winter camping holidaymakers also get their money’s worth.

The Super Ski Card ski region in the Kitzbühel Alps is also very popular among winter sports enthusiasts. With around 180 kilometres of slopes, the Kitzbühel ski area attracts both beginners and professionals. The choice of campsites is also considerable. Tirol Camp Energiebrunn is located on the outskirts of Fieberbrunn at the valley station of the same name. Electricity, water, and waste water connections are guaranteed here. If required, a private bathroom can also be added to the facilities. The wellness facilities provide the necessary relaxation, while the rentable ski boxes in the equipment room serve to store wet ski and snowboard equipment.

Caravan suitable for winter

Of course, for comfortable and smooth camping in winter, the winter-suitable equipment of the caravan is an important prerequisite. It goes without saying that the caravan should have winter tyres fitted for the winter camping holiday. In addition, winter campers should not forget to bring snow chains. Winter campsites are often located at an altitude of several metres, so it can otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach the site when it snows. In addition to a heater on board, it also does no harm to carry an awning. Anyone who has ever set up an awning knows that this can sometimes be a pain in the neck, but especially in winter, it is worth the effort! The awning can serve as a climate lock as well as a dirt trap, storage space and additional refrigerator. If a plastic tent carpet or awning floor is used, the awning offers additional protection from the cold. It also extends the space where you can move around protected from the weather – ideally as a terrace with a small paraffin heater.

Especially in winter, thermal bridges should be counteracted to keep the accumulated, precious heat in the winter camping motorhome for as long as possible. For example, a thermal bonnet for the windscreen of the vehicle is recommended, which also prevents the windscreen from icing up. There are now also special protective bonnets or mats for doors or pop-up roofs that keep the heat in the vehicle. For panel vans, good rear door insulation guarantees the necessary warmth.

As soon as the precautions for heat insulation have been checked off, support plates or boards should be carried. These help to keep the camper steady and allow it to be level, even on uneven ground. The boards are placed under the tyres and also prevent the camper from sinking into snow or mud. Here, the wider the support boards, the better.

In addition to the thermal insulation provided by thermal bonnets, microfibre rugs can counteract unpleasant cold when winter camping. These special carpets warm from underneath.

The right equipment for winter camping

As with any active holiday, the right clothing should not be missing on a winter camping holiday: In addition to warm, breathable outdoor clothing, a warm blanket and thick hats, gloves, and socks should be on board. Thermos and hot water bottles as well as heatable seat cushions perfect the equipment.No camping holiday should be without the classic tools, hammer, and pliers: The hammer, for example, is a good way to knock pegs into the (icy) ground, and the pliers can be used to get them out again at the end of the holiday. A broom is also a must in any good camping kit: while you can use it to sweep sand aside in summer, it can be used to remove dirt and snow in winter. An ice scraper with a telescopic pole and a small shovel for shovelling snow should not be missing in winter.

Check gas supplies

To be prepared for the cold temperatures, it is not enough to simply have a heating system on board. Caravans need sufficient gas to ensure that it runs smoothly and reliably. It is important to choose gas cylinders with a high propane content. Butane is unable to change from liquid to gas in freezing conditions, which means that the gas cannot be used for heating or cooking. Winter campers should allow for around 3-5 kg of gas per day, so propane bottles with as large a capacity as possible or carrying a second gas bottle is recommended.

There is also a lot to consider when it comes to the power supply. Because on-board batteries do not provide as much power in cold weather as they do in summer. As a result, the entire battery budget is used up after only a short time. The fridge in particular is a real battery guzzler, and since it also has to be switched on overnight, the on-board battery is in constant use. Therefore, winter campers should connect their vehicle to shore power. The shore power not only guarantees a continuous power supply, it also keeps the food you have bought from getting too warm.

Keep water frost-free

Water is a big issue in winter because it is known to freeze at 0 degrees. That’s fine for ice-skating fans, but not for winter campers with water tanks and water pipes. To prevent these from freezing, heated water tanks are recommended – at least for fresh water. For waste water, you can either add a little antifreeze to the collection tank or let the water run off directly. A little antifreeze should therefore also be added to the drain pipes.

Heatable water tanks for the fresh water prevent frost in the water pipes.

Vehicles that have a boiler with an anti-freeze monitor are also highly recommended for winter camping. The frost protection monitor ensures that the boiler valve opens automatically when the temperature drops below 4 degrees Celsius. Of course, this can also lead to unpleasant surprises if the boiler is suddenly empty. So: First switch on the on-board heating and let it preheat for an hour!

Winter camping in a tent

Camping in winter presents some challenges for many snow lovers. Therefore, it is even more important to know the right tips and tricks to be well-prepared against the icy cold. Camping in a motorhome is comfortable with careful preparation and the right equipment. Brave campers even dare to try winter camping in a tent. Here, it is even more important to pay attention to decisive aspects so that the skiing holiday does not turn into survival training.

The most important point is to carry a tent suitable for winter. This should also provide warmth and insulation in winter. It should also be more stable and thicker than conventional summer tents. Furthermore, it is essential to carry a thick sleeping pad. Without it, the heat stored in the sleeping bag and clothing would immediately escape through direct contact with the ground. The construction of the mat is crucial. Wafer-thin chamber walls in the mats provide an excellent insulating effect. The decisive factor is the “thermal resistance”, which is indicated by the R-value. This R-value is expressed as a number between 1 and 6. The higher the number, the better the mat protects against the cold of the floor. If a mat has a value of 4, for example, it protects against floor temperatures of about -10 degrees.

The most important thing when winter camping is to carry equipment suitable for winter.

Another important factor is the right sleeping bag. It should be well tailored to the shape of the body and under no circumstances be too big or small. If the sleeping bag is too small, the body comes into contact with the cold air and cools down. If the sleeping bag is too big so that there is too much space between the body and the sleeping bag, this air is not heated sufficiently by the body’s heat, so the air in the sleeping bag remains cold. This causes the body to lose energy and heat. If you already have a sleeping bag, but it is too big, a simple trick helps. The hollow spaces can be filled with clothing. By filling the spaces with other clothing that is not being worn on the body, the air volume is reduced, and the body is prevented from cooling down. Generally, sleeping bags suitable for winter use have a slightly thicker lining.

However, if the thickness of the sleeping bag is not sufficient, the onion principle can be applied to the sleeping bag. An additional layer can be created by wearing a down jacket, for example. It must be clear, however, that despite the onion look, a light summer sleeping bag cannot be converted into a winter sleeping bag. Equipment for comfortable camping in winter can sometimes be expensive, but it is important not to save money in the wrong place because freezing on holiday should be avoided as much as possible for a good camping experience.

FAQs about winter camping

Can I camp during my skiing holiday?

That is definitely possible! There are winter camping sites in numerous ski resorts that are completely geared to the needs of snow campers.

Where is winter camping possible?

Winter camping in combination with a skiing holiday is possible in Grainau in Germany, for example, or in Bruck am Großglockner, Fieberbrunn, Lofer, Kleinarl, Kössen or Zell am See in Austria.

What do I have to consider when winter camping?

When winter camping, you are usually exposed to very low temperatures. Therefore, you definitely need a winter-suitable vehicle incl. snow chains, sufficient gas supplies, antifreeze for waste water, heatable tanks for fresh water, tools and winter-proof clothing!

How do I keep the water frost-free when winter camping?

Heated tanks are recommended for fresh water. You can use antifreeze for the waste water.

What do I need to consider when winter camping?

In addition to a caravan or mobile home suitable for the winter, as well as equipment important for the winter, sufficient gas with a high propane content should be available. Staying at a comfortable campsite also offers an electricity connection, sanitary facilities and often drying rooms for storing ski and snowboard equipment.

Which campsites are open in winter?

Many campsites also offer pitches in winter. In Germany, for example, the Camping Resort Zugspitze and the Camping Erlebnis Zugspitze are particularly worthy of mention. In Austria, Camping Nova attracts numerous visitors every year, as does Tirol Camp Energiebrunn.

How and with what do I protect my caravan from the cold in winter?

Thermal bonnets for the front windows of the camper protect against the penetration of the cold and serve as thermal insulation. Snow scrapers are relevant for removing snow accumulations on the windows as well as the roof of the camper. Wide boards or support plates serve to keep the camper stable and prevent it from sinking into the snow or mud.

Can you sleep in a tent in winter?

With the right utensils, it is possible to sleep in a tent even in winter. This includes a tent suitable for winter, which also provides warmth and insulation in winter. The right choice of sleeping bag and sleeping pad is also crucial. The most important thing when camping in winter is that the equipment is also suitable for use in low temperatures.

How do you stay warm in the tent in winter?

Choosing the right sleeping bag is crucial. It should be picked to fit your body size and should not leave too much room for air, otherwise heat will be lost. A sleeping pad with a wafer-thin chamber wall achieves an excellent insulating effect and provides sufficient warmth at night.

What do you need for winter camping?

A winter-proof tent, a well-insulated sleeping pad and a warm sleeping bag are the three most important items for winter camping.

Can you camp with children in winter?

Camping in winter can be an unforgettable experience for children. It is important to bring the right clothes for the children, as well as access to sanitary facilities and electricity. There should also be plenty of toys such as popo-slides, board games and children’s shovels. Shoe racks help to keep the dirt out of the camper after playing in the cold.

Where can you find winter camping in the ski area?

The nature campsite Lärchwiese, for example, is located directly below the lifts of the Italian skiing area Glitschberg Jochtal and impresses with its sensational location directly on the slopes. The Swiss sports and camping site Samnaun is also located in the middle of the ski area. Here you can strap on your skis right at the caravan and at the end of the day the Zeblas valley run leads back to the caravan site.

Can you go camping over Christmas and New Year’s Eve?

Yes, many campsites have winter pitches that are also open over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Often, special activities for young and old are offered during this time. These include torchlight hikes, ice skating, wellness offers and children’s nativity celebrations.

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