The weather may be cooling, but camping is still an option. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next camping trip.
Decide Where To Go
Before you can head off on an outdoor adventure, you've got to pick a good spot! You don't have to go somewhere far from home. In fact, I recommend you try a site close by in case something goes awry -- that way, you can easily get back.
Other issues to consider when picking a destination:
- What else is around the camping grounds, like sightseeing spots.
- If you want to bring your dog along, make sure the grounds and park are dog-friendly (most national parks ban dogs, for instance).
- You should also leave plenty of time to make camp. Dark arrives earlier thanks to shorter days, and you don't want to be struggling to set up your tent with nothing but a flashlight to see by!
- Think about how you'll get to your campsite. If you want to go car camping, then you can bring more stuff since you'll have a car to carry it. If you prefer to hike to your site, then you might not even have to hike very far to get to a secluded spot.
Bring The Right Equipment
You have two things to think about in terms of equipment: bringing the right items and protecting those items. Equipment you should pack includes:
- Rain-proof tent: Make sure you have a tent with a full rain fly to protect you from wet weather. Test it out before you leave for your trip to make sure it works before you really need it! Find more tips on how to find the perfect tent here.
- Tarp: Lay it under your tent to protect it from wet and cold ground. You can also string it up to protect your tent from rain in a pinch.
- Sleeping pad and bag: It isn't just the weather that is colder as summer falls, the ground is too! Bring along a sleeping pad to insulate you from the ground and keep you warm during the night (and give you some extra padding for comfort).
- Mess kit: A compact mess kit, usually made up of several nested metal plates or bowls and silverware, will be easy to wash and save you room when it comes to trash. For some examples of what to have in your mess kit, check out Backpacker.com's recommendations here.
- Mini survival kit: You can fit the bare essentials for survival into a mint container, like this example by Huckberry.
- Lighting: Whether you use a water filled jug to amplify a headlamp or bring along a couple of flashlights, make sure you have enough light to see by as the days get darker earlier.
- Microfibre towels: These types of towels dry extremely quickly while still being absorbent. Even if you don't use them to shower, they can come in handy after swimming or during cooking.
- Campfire starters: Don't assume you'll be able to find dry kindling and logs to get your campfire going. Bring along some logs and paper to get the fire started. Of course, this is assuming your camp site allows fires and that there's no fire ban in place.
- Food and water: If you're not near a source of potable water, make sure you either bring it with you, or have a way to filter it safely. Simple meals can go a long way when camping, so focus on filling and easy to make items like sandwiches and porridge. Make sure you store your food appropriately so it doesn't attract animals.
Once you have the equipment you need, take care to protect it from water. Use garbage bags to protect items from dew that might cover them overnight and to line your backpack for similar reasons. Huckberry recommends you bring along duct tape for anything that needs fixing or holding together.
Set Up Your Campsite
Once you've arrived at your campsite, you have to set everything up. Every tent is different, of course, so you'll need to check the instructions for yours, but there are a few things everyone should think about. When pitching your tent, clear away rocks or sticks that would poke you through the floor of your tent. Also, look for the most level ground possible and if there isn't any, orient your tent so that your feet face downhill and blood won't rush to your head when you try to sleep. Mid=year the days get darker earlier, so make sure you leave enough time to set up your camp while it is still light out.
Again, make sure you store your food so that animals can't get to it. Some campgrounds have lockers you can use. Part of camping is to bring just the necessities, so it shouldn't take you too long to set up.
Commune With Nature
This is the really fun part! Enjoy the nature that surrounds you by hiking, biking, swimming, and other outdoor activities. Make sure you stay safe by keeping hydrated and having your first aid kit handy in case someone gets hurt. Know how to quickly get more high level medical help in the unfortunate event someone gets seriously injured. Use your common sense and don't do things like eat plants you don't know about, drink untreated water, or wander off a marked path.
If you need ideas for what to do (if the regular staples aren't enough), be sure to check your campsite's web site before you go -- they will list different trails and activities in the area for your enjoyment. When leaving your campsite for the day, make sure your valuables are secure and your food is stored safely.
Pack It Up
When you pack up your equipment, make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned so that you can easily put it in storage when you get home. To put out your fire, make sure you douse it with water since only covering it with dirt will not be enough to smother the coals. Take all trash with you, even if you have to carry it out in your backpack. The main thing to remember is to leave your site as (or even better off) than you found it and to be respectful of your surroundings.
As the days cool down, use these tips to optimise your camping experience. Do you have any tricks you use while camping in cooler weather? Let us know what they are in the comments below.