For those of you who are veteran campers, you are already aware that having the right equipment can make or break your vacation in the wilderness. It is important that you know what kind of terrain you will be camping in, and have some idea of what the weather is going to be like so that you can prepare and pack appropriately.
If you’re heading out into the desert, there probably isn’t a need for that extra heavy sleeping bag or the long-sleeved shirt – but you’ll want to bring plenty of water. On the other hand, if you’re going to be camping in the snow, you better make sure you have your winter boots, coat and a few extra layers of clothing. Here are a few tips to help the beginner plan their first trip into the wild – and who knows, maybe even the veterans will learn a thing or two, as well.
Familiarize Yourself With Equipment Beforehand
This is an important one. Make sure you setup your tent in the backyard before your trip. You don’t want to get to your campsite in the middle of the night, after hiking for hours, only to realize you have no idea how which pole goes where. Or even worse – you might even be missing some.
But as long as you take everything out of the bag and set it up when you first get your tent, you’ll be able to make sure that you have all of the stakes, poles, and other accessories. You may even want to set up the tent, take it down, and then repeat. This way you will be familiar not only with putting it up, but taking it down at the end of your vacation, as well.
Tarps and Canopies
Personally, I never trust the rain-fly included with any tent. Even after waterproofing, they always seem to leak somewhere. If you have the extra room to pack a tarp, by all means, do so. Not only are these useful for covering up your tent or other gear in the event of rain, but by stringing your tarp up between trees you can make a shady common area to rest comfortably during the day.
There are also pre-assembled canopies, or shade tents, which are used for this same purpose. Since they often include heavy steel frames, however, they usually require more than one person to set up and are not typically recommended for hikes or backpacking. If you are camping in proximity to your vehicle, however, these can save you a lot of time and effort as they are usually quite simple to put up and take down.
Food And Water
Food and water are, of course, an important consideration as well. Make sure to pack food items that will store well, and won’t spoil. Granola bars, trail mix, and beef jerky make excellent examples of what kind of food to pack when going on a camping trip. If you plan on cooking meals over an open fire, make sure any meat stays well packaged and on ice inside a cooler until you are going to cook.
When camping at a state park or some other paid campground, clean drinking water is usually provided for free. If camping in the wilderness, however, you will either have to bring in your own or find it where you are camped. If you are getting your water from a stream or river, make sure always to boil it first, to kill any harmful bacteria.
You will also need to take into consideration any wildlife in the area, as well. Bears, raccoons, squirrels and more love it when they can smell human food in the area. This is why food should never be stored in the same tent in which you are sleeping – the nylon walls of your tent are no defense against a hungry animal. Instead, it should be kept downwind from your general camping area in a secure container, to minimize your chances for any potentially deadly encounters.