The outdoors are calling this spring!
Now is the perfect time to pull up your bootstraps and pack a bag, because camping season is rapidly approaching.
Whether you are an experienced camper or a beginner, you may be looking for some tips before heading out into the wilderness. Knowing a few things could make the difference between a happy or very unhappy camper.
Get familiar with where you will be staying. Even if you are only traveling to somewhere a few towns away, terrains can change and you will want to be prepared.
If you are staying on a campsite, what amenities do they provide? If you are not on a campsite, what is the area like? Is it rocky? Is there a river or cliffs nearby? What wildlife is in the area? These things will indicate what you will need to bring, such as hiking gear for rocky terrain. Areas with water attract more mosquitoes so it could be a good idea to bring extra bug repellent and fishing equipment! Cliffs provide opportunities for rock climbing, if it is permitted in that area. Always be prepared for any local wildlife you may encounter when staying outdoors. Remember to check the weather beforehand as well and plan accordingly!
Preparation is Key
It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Here are some good ideas of things to consider bringing, depending on what type of trip you are planning for.
You are probably going to burn off more calories than you expect, so pack extra food and high-calorie snacks for much-needed energy. While you are packing extras, do not forget extra toilet paper, blankets for those cold nights, socks, and medical supplies. Remember the small things too, such as hair ties, towels, water shoes, and quarters you can spend if you are staying on a campsite and need to use the shower.
Are you planning on cooking hot food? Test your stove and/or fuel equipment before leaving. If cooking over a fire, make sure your wood is dry. Double check that you have batteries for your flashlights and radio. Consider bringing an emergency satellite phone, map, and compass just in case. Bring a few layers of clothing; clothing that breathes and does not chafe is recommended. Do not forget the sunblock and aloe lotion! You will make some refuse throughout the trip so pack trash bags. Pack a pocket knife, as well; you never know when it might come in handy. For moments of downtime, consider bringing a camera and notebook to capture memories, or a good book to read and relax with. Check out this list of great outdoor books that will make for perfect reading on a camping trip!
Invest in Good Equipment
Nothing will ruin your trip faster than a cheap tent leaking on a rainy night, or a sleeping bag where you feel every single rock beneath you.
It is well worth the cost to invest in high-quality equipment that will last season after season. If you are in the market for a new tent, there are a few things you will need to consider. Keep in mind the weight of the tent, the size, what conditions it will be used in, packability, durability, and how easy it is to assemble. A lot of tents come with extra features that increase the price. Before taking the plunge, make a list of the amenities you need the most.
When buying a sleeping bag, the first thing you will need to take into account is the season. There are sleeping bags made for hot, moderate, and freezing temperatures. Along with temperature, there is also comfort, size, and weight to plan for. If you already have these main items be sure to check for any rips, tears, or holes, make sure the zippers work. Once it is purchased, be prepared to make repairs as needed. You can spray waterproof coating to your tents and other products to help protect them. Adding a pad to your sleeping bag can give it an extra boost of comfort and warmth.
Be a Good Steward
Most importantly, remember to pick up after yourself and be kind to the land.
You are a guest in the woods. Do not disrupt the wildlife. Try to leave as little of a trace of yourself as possible when you leave. Lock down your food and trash so critters do not get into it – it will taste good to them, but it will make them sick.
The number one tip to remember is that the outdoors are unpredictable. You cannot control the weather and some things are going to happen that you will not have predicted. Do not let these things ruin your trip. Roll with the punches and have fun; it will make for great memories!