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6 Simple Tips for Making High Altitude Camping a Success

Photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock

High altitude camping is one of the best but also most challenging types of camping. With high altitudes usually come stunning alpine views of mountains, glaciers, and valleys. This makes for some unforgettable memories at camp. 

However, getting to these locations means battling cold temperatures and, in many cases, tough trails.

In this article, we go over a few tips that will make sure you enjoy these stunning locations safely and comfortably. 

Table of Contents:

High Altitude Camping – Stay Warm with a Heater

Diesel Heater next to an SUV in the snow

First and foremost, we need to make sure we have a way of staying warm while high altitude camping. Temperatures in such areas are unforgiving, and going unprepared can lead to a very unpleasant stay. 

In this instance, a heated blanket won’t be able to keep us comfortable. We need something to warm up the ambient temperatures inside our tent rather than just warming up our bodies. 

One of the best products for this job is the diesel heater. At 4WDTalk, we love diesel heaters as they are safe and easy to use. With these devices, the warm air never comes into contact with the combustion processes; therefore, there is far less risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

diesel heaters are ideal for overlanding

The specific unit we have in mind is the Planar 4D-12V – a product tested for years in the coldest environments possible. The Planar comes in a crushproof rain-resistant case and runs on diesel or kerosene and 12v DC. It has a silencer, air intake filter, and a remote wired controller. 

Fuel consumption is roughly 3-4 liters per 8 hours, and it can operate at altitudes of up to 8,200 feet, making it the perfect companion on those cold nights in the mountains. 

Keep in mind that this heater isn’t just capable of heating up a tent while high altitude camping. It can work perfectly in caravans, boats, and even ice fishing huts. It’s a portable device, so you can take it with you regardless of your adventure!

High Altitude Camping – Get Used to the High Altitude

High Altitude Camping – Get Used to the High Altitude

Photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock

One of the biggest mistakes adventurers often make while high altitude camping is ascending too quickly. This can lead to altitude sickness, which can be extremely dangerous.

To avoid such a scenario, we suggest you spend a day exploring at a lower elevation before continuing further up the next day. If you’re planning on going really high, use this progressive method for two or even three days until you reach your desired location. 

High Altitude Camping – Have a Prepared Vehicle

Aggressive off road ready car in mountains

Photo by molchanovdmitry via iStock

High altitude camping many times requires tackling difficult muddy or snowy roads. At such locations, the rain and snow never seem to stop, which makes for battered and rutted trails. To head into such areas, ensure your truck has good off-road tires, recovery equipment, and maybe even a satellite phone in case you need it.

A winch is also a bonus but isn’t absolutely necessary – especially if you aren’t traveling alone.

High Altitude Camping – Stay Hydrated

making coffee while camping

Photo by AscentXmedia via iStock

We often forget to drink water when in cold areas for multiple days. You might have had this happen before. A whole day has gone by, and you stare at your water bottle only to notice it is just as full as it was in the morning. 

Since high altitude camping usually means being far from help, we must do everything possible to reduce the chances of getting sick.

While there is no evidence that hydrating can reduce the chances of altitude sickness, you should still ensure that you are taking in enough fluids. 

High Altitude Camping – Stay Protected from the Sun

Lone camper sitting on top of mountain and edge of cliff

Photo by thinair28 via iStock

You might be surprised to hear this, but the colder temperatures in the mountains do not mean that the sun’s rays are also weaker.

In fact, when high altitude camping, you will be faced with stronger sun rays because there are fewer atmospheric particles to absorb the sun. This means that you should pay close attention to protecting your skin from the sun by using sunscreen and clothes that cover your whole body. 

Furthermore, if you are heading high altitude camping during winter, you must take sunglasses with you to avoid snow blindness. 

High Altitude Camping – Be Aware of How you Feel

Hiking in the mountains

Photo by thinair28 via iStock

Our final high altitude camping tip is always to be aware of how you feel. If at any point you start to feel unwell, it is wise to begin descending. Remember, we are out there to have fun and not to risk our health and happiness.

Feeling unwell in such areas will make for a miserable and risky time. 

On the other hand, if you have spent a few days at your desired high altitude camping location and are still feeling great, you can ascend to an even higher spot for better views and a more unique experience. However, from a certain point onwards, such locations tend to only be accessible via hiking trails.

Final Thoughts

Two people lying in tent with a view of mountains

Photo by oixxo via iStock

High altitude camping is an experience every adventurer must engage in at some point. The views and memories formed in these areas really are much deeper and unique than most other places we can access and camp. It requires preparation and, in some instances, perseverance, but the rewards are worth it.

If you have questions about high altitude camping, off-roading, or anything overland-related, head to the forum section of our page to ask away!

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