The autumn weather is upon us & we are excited about camping this fall! We got a taste of the cool weather when we were visiting Yosemite this August. When we camped in the Tuolumne Meadows, the temperatures dropped down into the 30’s at night! But thankfully, we were prepared with our warm gear. We snuggled into our base layers & cozied up next to our camp fire. To read more about how we packed for Yosemite, check out our last blog post here!
Now that we have you all set on how to pack & what clothes will be best for your adventure, let’s talk about how to set up camp & get a good night’s rest. Because without proper rest, how will you enjoy your next day in the wilderness?
Making Camp >
Tent: Just make sure you have a good tent that doesn’t leak, OK? If the rain fly doesn’t even cover the windows of the tent, or if the fly only goes out above the doors but doesn’t completely cover them, you can be sure it won’t hold up well in a rain storm. Rain doesn’t always come straight down… Your safest bet is a tent with a fly that comes all the way to the ground. And although it’s unfortunate that most tents don’t come with the footprint, please get one to protect your investment! We love our REI Half Dome tent & footprint that we snagged at an REI Garage Sale almost 3 years ago. Although it’s a 4 man tent, we love having extra space for Scout & let’s be honest – to spread out our stuff a bit!
Accessories: Geek lights are totally in (like so many other heirlooms of the 90s!), but they aren’t just stylish, a headlamp is crucial! The Black Diamond ones are our favorite. You’ve got to free those fingers people. Carabiners and a few dozen feet of cord are also always handy to have around. (Because you never know what will happen in the wild!) If you have the space, a trail chair of some kind are so much more comfortable than a log, and they double as a secondary sleeping pad! Finally, if you aren’t very familiar with where you are going, buy a map! Trails aren’t usually included on Google, my friends! The National Geographic trail maps are the best we’ve found – water and tear resistant!
Hygiene: Microfiber camp towels are super convenient because they are so absorbent, light, and quick to dry. Finally, you’ll need soap for your dishes, face, body, etc. but please make sure it’s biodegradable! We are the stewards of this nature we love y’all. Believe it or not, we have had our small 3 oz bottle of soap for years & it’s only about half gone! Even though it’s small, it goes a long way.
Cooking/Cleaning: Don’t forget utensils! And although camp dishes can be expensive, a great place to start is the boy scout camp kit. The simple bowl, plate, and small pot have been all we need many times. But if you want to cook anything you’ll need a stove. The simplest ones are just a burner which attaches to the top of a propane canister. These are great because they pack up very small and don’t weigh anything.
The horror story of a good time in the woods is a frigid and/or sleepless night. So just like everything else – focus on the warmth to weight ratio.
Bags: Sleeping bags can be expensive, but the warmth is essential. Because we live in the Southeast, we went with 30 degree bags. Our Marmot bags are amazing! (And they match – isn’t that cute?!?) Sleeping bag liners can also add several degrees of warmth to your bag (and protect your bag from your messy self). Liners aren’t essential, but can be really nice.
Pads: No matter what you do, don’t plan on camping without a sleeping pad! You won’t wake up because you never really fall asleep, but you’ll still be stiff as a board when the sun finally comes! Inflatable ones are the most comfortable, but foam ones are the lightest. How tough are you?
Meds: Ah, one of the best kept secrets of camping! A few Tylenol PM, Ibuprophen PM, or Melatonin before climbing into your bag can cover a multitude of discomforts! We didn’t learn about this trick until just a few years ago. Since then, we have had many nights of wonderful sleep in the wild!
Pillows: A pillow will mean the difference between being refreshed or having a kink in your neck in the morning. You can purchase inflatable ones, or make your own by stuffing some clothes and your jacket into the top of your pack (although not as comfortable).
WOWZA, that was a lot! Let’s come back down to earth…
All this stuff can get expensive quickly, but if you plan on regular journeys into the woods, don’t waste your money on cheap things which will not hold up to the wild. On the other hand, don’t waste your money on fancy things which you don’t need! Instead, borrow, rent, and test things yourself until you determine what you really need, then make those intentional purchases. The camping section at Walmart (not Target) is a prospector’s gold mine for some simple things like soap, TP, dry sacks, a spice shaker, etc. We make a stop before every trip! Also remember that some camping gear is very seasonal, so you can find great deals in the off season! (Think wool base layers, insulated jackets, etc.) Finally, the benefits of being an REI member are abundant. We have struck gold at REI garage sales over the years where we have amassed most of our gear! See the photo above with those adorable white paws? We snagged these items at last year’s sale one morning. While we always go with a wish list in mind, we keep our eyes open for anything that could be useful!
Remember, all you need is enough to get you out there. So go, have fun, take notes, invest, and go again!