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Army Navy Surplus Store
Serving San Diego

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Serving San Diego

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7 Military Surplus Essentials for Cold Weather Camping

army unit on patrol
If you go camping in the mountains near San Diego during the winter, you may encounter snow and cold temps. To ensure you're ready, you need the right camping gear, and military surplus items can be great options. Here are some essentials to consider for your next camping trip:

Cold Weather Sleeping Bags

For cold weather camping, you need a sleeping bag designed for low temps. Luckily, most military sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, and if you check the average low temps in your destination, it's easy to figure out which rating you need. Ideally, you should also look for features such as a water-repellent Gore-tex exterior or fleece lining.


To make a regular sleeping bag a bit warmer, consider investing in some military blankets. Typically, these blankets are wool or fleece. They can be easily folded into a backpack, and they dry quickly. If you get a bit of snow or other moisture on them, they can dry during the day when the temps are high and then be ready for you to use again in the evening.

Fire Starting Materials

It can be challenging to start a fire when there is snow on the ground. So that you can start a fire in an emergency, you may want to invest in some fire starting equipment. Military surplus shops often sell fire starter packs that include magnesium flint sticks. Scrapping steel against these sticks create sparks that can ignite kindling.
Alternatively, consider compressed trioxane fuel bars. Used by soldiers, these packs are extremely portable, and they ignite easily. If you want a more conventional option, look for waterproof fire starter matches.

Poncho/Temporary Shelters

If it is snowing while you are hiking or hanging out at the campsite, your clothing may get wet which can be dangerous in low temps. To protect yourself, you may want to consider a waterproof poncho.
Military ponchos are designed to keep you warm and dry in adverse conditions, but they can also be turned into an emergency shelter as needed. If you get caught in the snow before you can set up camp, a poncho can act as a tent—they've even worked successfully in the arctic.

All Weather Tents

You can buy all weather tents from any camping supply shop, but if you want quality combined with affordability, you may want to check out military tents. There are large military tents that are ideal for week-long hunting trips or large groups of friends camping together. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find small military tents, pup tents, and emergency bivvies.
Regardless of the size of tent you need, it never hurts to have the same features that hold up on a battlefield. This includes durable nylon fabric, UV-resistant polyurethane coating, and seams that have been taped and sealed for long wear.

Warm Clothing

Just as you don't need to buy an expensive camping tent, you also don't necessarily need to stock up on ski jackets or brand name camping clothing. Instead, military surplus gear can provide the warmth your body needs. Consider items such as cold weather bibs, military parkas, balaclavas, and extra warm gloves.

GI Inner Tubes

Surprisingly to some, there are even government issued inner tubes. Unlike the weak plastic you often find on conventional inner tubes, government issued tubes are sturdy and resistant to damage.
These tubes let you add a bit of extra fun to your winter camping excursion. Deflate the tubes while they're in your backpack. Then, inflate them with a hand-held pump and do a bit of sledding!
If you want to get more ideas on military surplus gear for winter or summer camping, come on down to our store. At the Bargain Center Army Navy Surplus Store, we've been serving San Diego since 1961, and we'd love to meet you.