When it comes to camping, most people think of summer and warm conditions, but winter camping is growing in popularity. Northern Michigan and the upper peninsula present many options for scenic locations that combine camping with kayaking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
“We are definitely seeing more of our customers enjoying winter camping,” said Becky Philipp-Kranig of Bearcub Outfitters in downtown Petoskey. “I really feel the appeal for most of them is the beauty. Others like the peacefulness and serenity of winter camping. There is a different feel beyond the temperatures that makes it magical.”
Kranig is partners with her mother B.J. Shawn and Bearcub just celebrated their 15th anniversary this past year.
Winter camping locations are as protected as morel mushrooms locations and fly-fishing holes at area trout streams. “People never say exactly where they are going; it is very generic, like up in the U.P. or near Lake Michigan or on a stretch of such and such river,” said Philipp-Kranig. “While you might want to keep your location a secret from the masses, it is important to let someone know where you are going, when you are leaving, and when you plan to be back.”
Philipp-Kranig, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, recommend that all outdoor enthusiasts carry personal locater beacons.
WHERE TO GO?
Several state parks in northern Michigan remain open for winter camping and novice campers may want to start there before venturing deep into the wilderness. North Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon, Tahquamenon Falls in the U.P. and Tippy Dam near Manistee are all popular state parks for winter camping. Check michigan.gov for a complete list of state parks open during the winter.
Just east of Vanderbilt, the Shingle Mill Pathway is popular with campers from the Emmet/Otsego area. Camping is also permitted at The Sleeping Bear Dunes Platte River Campground. Snowshoe and ski access is available to the White Pine backcountry campsites.
As for gear, Philipp-Kranig offers a few tips that can improve your winter camping experience.
“The obvious for everyone is their shelter/ tent and sleeping bag. But it’s equally important to have a great sleeping mat; we carry the Therm-A-Rest that reflects your body heat,” said Philipp-Kranig. “It’s not just about having a four-season tent or a below zero rated sleeping bag, it is also about keeping your body off the ground.”
Of course, clothing is another important element and many people are prone to making mistakes when selecting clothing for outdoor activities.
People do struggle with this, so consulting with us or other experts will help,” said Philipp-Kranig. “In general, the key is understanding how to layer and making sure you have the right type of clothing. The worst thing you can do is have stuff that doesn’t wick and you are sweating during the day, and then you stop moving your going to get cold. So having clothing that dries quickly is important.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
You’ll also need the right equipment for preparing food.
“When it comes to cooking, it is best to use liquid fuel stoves. We sell them and the liquid fuel canisters,” said Philipp-Kranig. “They perform better than traditional camp stoves in cold temperatures.”
Water is another factor. “With freezing and access to clean water you should consider your options. If you are hiking in and don’t have access to your car to store water, you are going to need to melt snow and then filter that water,” said Philipp-Kranig. She notes that water bottles with pre-filters from manufacturers such as Katadyn can be helpful.
For some, camping just isn’t the same without bringing along one’s dog.
“Certain dogs more geared outside, but we do sell special footies for dogs that will help protect the pads on their feet from ice and rocks,” said Philipp-Kranig. “If you have a thin-haired dog there are coats for them to consider. I also fee it is important for all dogs to be off the ground as well when sleeping. So consider a mat or sleeping bag to get them off the ground as well.”
For more information on winter camping visit Becky Philipp-Kranig of Bearcub Outfi t- ters in downtown Petoskey. Check out there website at bearcuboutfitters.com or call them 231-439-9500. If you are in the Traverse City area consider reaching out to Backcountry Outfi tters. They have two Traverse City locations backcountrytc.com for more details.