A winter cabin stay can be an amazing experience. And if you are thinking of planning one…do it! If you have one already booked, well color me jealous.
In this guide, I’ll tell you how to plan and pack for a winter cabin trip, along with a few things you may not have thought of.
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Table of Contents
- What to Pack for a Winter Cabin Trip
- What To Know Before Packing
- Cabin Packing List
- Fun Things To Bring To a Cabin
- Things To Do
- Before You Go
- Final Thoughts
What to Pack for a Winter Cabin Trip
To pack for a winter cabin trip, you need to know what amenities will be available on site. Break up your packing list into 3 major categories: Clothing, Gear, & Food/Drink. Be sure to include appropriate emergency gear such as a first aid kit, and let a family or friend know your arrival and departure dates.
It is important to pack correctly for a trip to a winter cabin so that you will stay warm, be comfortable, and have the food and drinks you want.
Ask yourself, is this a resort-style cabin with all the luxuries and creature comforts? Or is this a rural and remote cabin you want to be off-grid and rough it!
Or, is it somewhere in between?
No matter how long your trip will be, you will need the same essential items. You can add what else you need depending on what’s on-site, how many people are going, and how long you are staying.
What To Know Before Packing
Cabins can really vary in size, style, space, and on-site amenities. Here are the questions I always ask myself when planning a winter cabin trip:
- Does the cabin have beds and linens?
- Does the cabin have a full kitchen or do I need to pack cookware an utensils?
- Does the cabin have firewood on site, or do I need to bring my own?
- Does the cabin have propane on site, or another fuel source?
- Is there potable water at the cabin or nearby?
- Is there a grocery store or general store nearby to get last minute supplies?
- Do I need 4-wheel drive to access the cabin?
- Is there a chance I could get ‘snowed in’?
- Does the cabin have cellular coverage, if so what is the main provider?
By answering these basic questions, you can really narrow down your packing list. For example, if the cabin already has beds and linens…leave the sleeping bag, pillow, and sheets at home!
Cabin Packing List
NOTE: The lists below are meant to be a general guide. In some cases, the items listed may be way more than you need. Or, it may be inadequate. Use this list as a general guide to get you started.
You want to bring layers so that you can easily move from outdoors to indoors without having to change. Below is a starter clothing list:
- Outer layers, including a heavy winter coat that is water-resistant and insulated
- Mid-layers, such as a fleece, down jacket or a sweater
- Flannel shirt
- Base layers, including long-sleeved shirts
- Long underwear
- Hiking pants
- Snow pants (for outdoor activities)
- Sweatpants for relaxing in the cabin
- Water-resistant socks
- Extra socks! (nothing worse than cold feet)
- Scarves, gloves, and a hat
- Snow boots or waterproof hiking boots
- Facemask or Balaclava (for really cold weather!)
If you have these basics with you, you will be comfortable in the cabin, out in the snow, or while you are active.
It is better to have more than you need than to get there and find that you don’t have enough to keep you warm on those cold winter days.
Next, you need to pack your gear. Below is a starter gear list:
- Permits (if required on public land)
- Lantern or a couple of flashlights
- Handheld GPS
- Hiking Poles
- Camelback or water bladder
- Bear spray (if your in bear country)
- External Battery Charger for phone/electronics
- Water Bottle
- Extra batteries
- Emergency Fire starting kit
- Portable cot (if there is no bed)
- Sleeping bag
- Bug-spray (yes, the bugs can be bad even during winter)
- Toilet Paper
- Backpack or Daypack
- Sleeping bag liner
- Extra blanket
- First aid kit
- Medicine or prescriptions
- Shovel (if it isn’t supplied)
- Day pack
- Waterproof bag for wet clothing
- Emergency kit
- Small axe or hatchet
You should also bring outdoor gear so that you can enjoy yourself outdoors. Consider bringing cross-country skis, a snow tube, a snowboard, or snowshoes.
Food and Drinks
You need to find out whether your cabin has a stove and other appliances. Often, the cabin is bare and you need to find a way to cook. Below is a starter Food & Drink list:
- Two coolers (one for food and one for drinks)
- Portable stove
- Crockpot (easy to plug in and prepare food while you are out)
- Nesting pots
- Frying pan
- Utensils (cooking and eating)
- Ziploc Bags
- Trash Bags
- Cooking Oil
- Food (see my full article on best cabin foods here).
You should plan your menu before you go and bring food that is easy to cook on your portable stove. Make sure that you bring snacks for each day, such as trail mix, beef jerky or protein bars, and plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Fun Things To Bring To a Cabin
Cabin fever is real…so avoid it by bringing along a few fun items to provide entertainment:
- Reading material (books, magazines, kindle, etc)
- Deck of cards
- Board Games
- Fishing Pole
- Trail Cameras (to get photos of critters)
- Candy & Junk Food
- Marshmallows & Smores
- Hand Radio
- Inner Tube or Sled
- Telescope (you might see the northern lights!)
- Bottle of Wine
Things To Do
For indoor activities, you can bring board games, cards, and books. Another fun activity is adult coloring books, which can be very relaxing. You can cook around the fire and enjoy the people who come with you.
There is no doubt that you will want to get outside and enjoy the scenery while you are there. Some people go to winter cabins as part of a hunting trip, in which case you should bring your hunting gear.
Others plan to go hiking. If there is snow, you will want to bring snowshoes and hiking poles. Snowshoe walking is great exercise, and the trails will be quiet and peaceful.
If you are there with the family, you might enjoy building a snow fort. Draw your plans for the structure, and make snow bricks with coolers or bread pans. Pack the pans with fresh snow and build your own bricks.
You can stagger these snow bricks just as real bricks would be staggered, and pour water on it once you finish to ice it over. If you have a string of battery-powered LED lights, they will look amazing inside.
People often enjoy cross country skiing as well. There may be other winter activities offered in the area where you are staying, so be sure to plan ahead and know what you are going to do. The key is to bring what you need for indoor and outdoor activities so that you are prepared for the trip.
Before You Go
Depending on how long you will be gone, you may want to think about the following before you leave on your winter cabin trip:
- Inform friends & family of your plans, including emergency contact info and cabin location
- Turn off water, AC, heat etc.
- Hold mail
- Water your plants
- Make arrangements with your pets
- Throw out old food in refridgerator
- Take out all garbage
- Fill prescriptions
- Check weather forecast
Planning a trip to a cabin during winter is a great way to unwind, relax and find solitude. And the good news is that there is a cabin out there for just about every style (I personally prefer the more primitive style cabins).
Taking the extra time to plan, prepare and pack for your trip will ensure you have a wonderful time. I hope this article helped you, or at the very least got your wheels spinning. Thanks for reading!