I’m kicking off the New Year with this post about camping. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is still very much winter, but many might be planning their summer vacations and planning on camping. I know I’m ready for some camping trips!
I use to not like camping as it usually involves bugs, dirt, and sometimes no running water bathrooms. As I grew older, I grew to enjoy it thanks to these things.
It is funny though. I grew up camping with a car, but most recently, all my camping experience has been on a bike, which is a completely different mindset than camping with a car. Mainly, the car option has room to carry many things and heavy things. Versus on a bike, anything I pack, I am carrying with my own power.
Either way, these things are useful in both options.
1) Plenty of Bug spray
Mosquitos love me. They never seem to bother my dad, but I will swell up. I prefer the ones with DEET (strong stuff, careful how much you put on). Always have some handy and put it on under your clothes even if you are wearing pants and jackets. If you are in the most northern part of Alaska…good luck, those suckers will bite you with 5 layers and the strongest bug spray you have.
2) Tent Position
A flat surface is ideal since you will be sleeping on it and don’t want to by laying on bumps. A high ground is ideal as it might rain and you don’t want to be waking up wet. A smooth surface is ideal as you don’t want any rocks and sticks poking through your tent and tarp underneath.
We once set up our tent on a tilt. I was in the lower part and it rained. The bottom of my sleep bag and my side of the tent was wet. Make sure it is a flat/high surface!
Placing your tent among trees if you are expecting a lot of wind will help reduce wind power on your tent. On the flip side, it is also good to have major openings turned toward the flow of the wind for ventilation on hot nights.
Trees will also provide shading for the tent, keeping it cool during the day so it won’t be an oven at night.
3) Plenty of lighting (Flashlights, etc.)
Depending on the type of camping you are doing, if you have the room, a nice lantern is good so multiple people can see well. If you are backpacking or bikepacking, a simple head lantern is nice so your hands are free to do anything. Having both is a very good option.
4) Quick Dry Towel
They aren’t the softest thing in the world, but it drys you off pretty good and then it dries itself so if you need to pack it up quickly, you won’t have a soaking wet towel in your car or bag.
5) Ziplock Your Food
This really just applies to car camping with a cooler as it is hard to carry perishable items on a bike and any perishable foods like bread, would be in your water proof panniers (I hope they are waterproof!). This is important if you are camping somewhere very hot that your ice melts faster than you can drain/buy new ice. The ziplock helps keep the water out of the food so it won’t soak. We didn’t do this once and the bread and other foods got soaked we had to throw it away.
You never know when you might get a blister or cut yourself on something. Always nice to have some sort of first aid kit.
It is a good rule of thumb to have coins (quarters in the United States and Canada, or looneys ($1)/tooneys ($2) in Canada) for showers. Sometimes showers are free, but other times you pay per minute or per 3 minutes, etc. It is always nice to have some change because there probably won’t be a change machine or the campground office might be closed.
8) Wet Wipes
These are super great if there isn’t a shower or it isn’t warm enough to swim in a lake or river.
I grew up using tarps as extra protection for under the tent against sharp rocks or perhaps water. But, you can also use tarps for anything. We used it in our Alaska bike trip as over head shelter from the rain. We also used it as a quick napping spot from biking or to sit on during lunch as a picnic.
We went camping with another couple recently and the man made fun of our tarp, but at the end of the day, we were warmer due to it being another shield against the cold ground (it was cold this particular camping trip) and our tent didn’t have holes from the rocks so…
There are plenty of other things useful in camping, but it really depends where, when, and how you are camping. These things are great to have/keep in mind for any camping trip.
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