Extra gear might mean more weight in your pack, but once the winter sun goes down early you’ll be happy to have all the essentials. Bring a bag that’s rated for at least 10 degrees below the forecasted low, and a thick sleeping pad to keep you insulated from the ground. Think in layers when it comes to dressing for the night, with down, wool, and synthetic fabrics being staples. Start slow, and pitch a tent in a spot you’re familiar with in case you need to hike out unexpectedly. And don’t forget an insulated bottle; hot drinks have never tasted so good—or warm—from a frosty tent. Wise up by checking out more tips from our friends:

REI: Rei.com/learn

Colorado Mountain Club: hikingdenver.net/schools/wintercampingschool

Colorado Mountain College: Coloradomtn.edu