Outdoor enthusiasts who brave the elements in the winter know a camping trip in snow requires extra preparation. It takes proper gear and special training to make the chill and frost survivable, let alone enjoyable. For Orange County adventure seekers, a little extra investment for supplies and courses may clear the way for a thrilling winter getaway of snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing and good-spirited outdoor hooliganism.
Orange Army-Navy Store
131 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866
This family owned-and-operated military surplus store has served Orange County residents since 1955. It’s the perfect place to pick up critical survival gear and not-so-critical winter toys at reasonable prices. Find new and used camping apparel, gear, knives, guns and a wide range of authentic military paraphernalia. This store carries more than 40 major brands specializing in adventure gear such as Coleman, Bushnell, Oakley, GSI Outdoors and Texsport.
The Grant Boys
1750 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
If you’re looking for a non-commercialized, independent shop to pick up new winter clothes and gear, look no further than this family-owned gem in Costa Mesa. With a 12,000-square-foot store filled with gear from more than 600 suppliers, this Orange County landmark is bound to carry what you’re looking for. It not only offers camping necessities, it also stocks everything needed for a luxury camping experience. Find solar showers, freeze dried food, cookware, coolers and even Dutch ovens right here.
3315 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Patagonia, North Face and Marmot are just a few of the name brands you’ll find at the Gear Co-op. While this shop specializes in climbing gear, you’ll also find great winter apparel from jackets to all-terrain hiking boots. Purchase items online and get free two-day shipping on all orders more than $49. Gear Co-op offers a 100 percent iron-clad guarantee on all products, meaning if you don’t like what you buy for any reason, return it for a full refund or exchange at any time during the life of the product.
REI Outdoor School Tustin
2962 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92782
If you want to survive an outdoor winter odyssey, it takes more than just having the right gear. You have to prepare with the right mental tools. REI can provide you with the knowledge you need for any kind of winter situation. This well-known outdoor supply retailer not only sells clothes and sporting equipment, its staff will teach you how to use it. Many courses are offered at no cost, and you don’t have to be an REI member to participate. Free courses range from teaching you how to dress for cold weather to the basics of snowshoeing.
Idyllwild Preserve Campground
24400 Canyon Drive
Idyllwild, CA 92549
Price: cabin rentals from $99/night
A successful winter camping trip combines good preparation with the right destination. Idyllwild Preserve Campground is the destination of choice for local campers at any time of year. This 200-acre camping preserve in Mount San Jacinto State Park is just two hours from Orange County off of Highway 243. It is open through the winter and is a great base for snow camping, cross-country skiing, sledding and snowshoeing. The roads to the campground are well maintained and plowed regularly during the snow season. The campgrounds have restrooms and showers, and the nearby village boasts businesses that cater to winter activities. Don’t forget that from Nov. 1 through May 31, all vehicles must carry snow chains or cables to enter the state park.
Truc Dever is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.