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Stay Warm, Cozy, and Social: Winter Camping Made Easy!

Stay Warm, Cozy, and Social: Winter Camping Made Easy!


Adventure seekers, listen up! Cold winter camping might make some people think twice, but fear not, for I've discovered a game-changing solution that will redefine your cold-weather escapades and elevate the experience for you and your fellow camp enthusiasts.

Two years ago, I crossed paths with the mastermind behind Lava Box, a portable propane fire pit crafted from military-inspired ammo cans. The moment I felt the intense heat it radiated, I bid farewell to my old propane campfire pit and embraced the Lava Box on the spot.

Now, let's fast forward to an epic camping and off-roading expedition in the Eastern Sierras of California with a group of fearless friends. Our friend Campbell told us to bring a pop up tent and some tarps.  He knew something that we didn't know. When we rolled into camp at a brisk 45F, little did we know the night would plummet to 25F with a gentle breeze.

With the pop-up tent and Lava Box in full force, Campbell's creative prowess came to the forefront as he rigged tarps into side walls. This ingenious setup, combined with the roof from the pop-up tent, trapped the Lava Box's fiery warmth, creating a cozy haven for dinner and casual campfire chats under the starlit sky.

The way we stayed warmed as a large group was a "game changer" moment for me. It opened the door to year-round camping, allowing us to revel in the magic of winter conditions. Sure, my heated camper maintains a comfy 75F, but who wants to be confined when the age-old tradition of gathering around a campfire beckons?

Recognizing the need for an even better solution to the pop up tent and tarps, my quest led me to Gazelle Tents. I choose the G6 Deluxe 6-Sided Portable Gazebo, with its exposed bottom, provided ample space for 10 camping chairs and a safe distance from the Lava Box fire pit. It easily stowed away on my Pak Mule hitch basket.  It's a swift and efficient choice.

The proof, my adventurous friends, lies in the metaphorical pudding. On a chilly 40F night, the Gazelle Gazebo maintained a balmy 60F inside, fueled by the roaring heat from the gas fire pit. Open the side windows and expose the mesh screen for fresh air, but be vigilant not to tip the balance and turn your gazebo into a sauna.

And for those wondering if this setup conquers the snow – a resounding YES! So, if you're yearning to embark on winter camping adventures with friends and family who aren't cold enthusiasts, behold your new winter essential. Embrace the cold, conquer the snow, and let the adventure unfold!

The best times to stargaze while camping


The best time to see stars and take milky way photos is at night generally during a new moon and when the sky is darkest and clear.  Usually a few hours after sunset or before sunrise. 

The season can also affect the number of visible stars, as the Earth's position in its orbit around the sun changes throughout the year. For example, during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the Milky Way is often visible.  While during the winter months, constellations such as Orion and Taurus are more prominent. Winter nights are longer and the air is generally clearer, making it easier to see stars. 

It's also important to consider the phase of the moon, as the moon's brightness can interfere with star visibility. If you want to see stars at their brightest, it's best to plan your stargazing trip during a new moon or when the moon is not visible in the sky. Reference the moon calendar screen shot below as an example.

The visibility of stars can also be influenced by atmospheric conditions, such as the presence of clouds or haze. Clear, dry nights with low humidity and minimal light pollution are ideal for stargazing, as they provide the best conditions for clear and bright views of the night sky.



If your goal is to stargaze when there is a new moon, I highly suggest finding a trusted moon phase calendar tool or moon schedule to find out the lunar phase for any given month.  I like using this online moon schedule tool from moonconnections.com. Simply select a month, year, identify your hemisphere, and click "Go", and it will show you what the moon will look like for any day that month. The internal phase calculator is very accurate, but the images are approximations.  

Happy trails and stargazing with your closest friends and family around a warm and inviting campfire.  Don't forget to make a wish after you witness a shooting star. 


Moon phase calculator 


 Photo Credits: @roamrx

- Mike Houston 


What are the best adventure camping shoes?

What are the best adventure camping shoes?
The best adventure camping shoes for overlanding depend on the specific activities you plan to do while camping, the weather conditions, and your personal preferences. I've trialed many different adventure shoes for many years. I was chasing that perfect all-around shoe that I can wear in any condition.  There is NO "goldilocks" shoe. Ultimately, the best camping shoes are those that fit comfortably, meet your specific needs, and allow you to enjoy your camping experience to the fullest. Read the full article to learn more about what adventure shoes you should consider.