Camping can be a great way to spend time destressing in the great outdoors. When you fail to properly prepare for your weekend adventure, however, things can quickly head downhill. Wherever you are spending the night, your priorities should be staying warm, dry, well-fed, and hydrated. Here's how to prepare for your trip and what to pack for camping in comfort.
Why You Should Check the Weather and Prepare for the Worst
To get a general idea of what to pack for your trip, look up the weather forecast for the place you'll be staying. Even if you aren't traveling far, your campsite may be at a much higher or lower elevation than your present location, and this can significantly affect both temperatures and environmental conditions.
If you've planned your trip well in advance to take advantage of a day off or seasonal break, you may be surprised at the weather you end up with. Even if you are planning only days ahead, conditions can always change. This is why you should always prepare for the worst.
Even in hot places, nighttime temperatures can be significantly colder than daytime ones. Try to get a general idea of the temperatures you can expect during the coldest and warmest times in the day. Have a sleeping bag capable of handling temperatures 20 or so degrees Fahrenheit colder than the coldest nighttime temperatures predicted. If you also bring enough layers or warm clothes to handle staying outside during these nightly lows, you should be good to go.
What To Pack for Camping in the Cold
Whether you intend to stay in extreme cold for days on end or spend a single crisp autumn night outside, the basic rules for staying warm are the same. Your comfort comes down to balancing your body temperature with your gear. This is why outdoor magazines and adventure organizations always recommend layering.
When you're most active, your body heats up, making you feel as though chilly conditions are relatively mild. Inexperienced campers are often surprised to find that, after mere moments of rest, they start to feel significantly colder. When you wear multiple layers, you are able to shed layers as you heat up and add them as you cool down.
Materials To Look For
A lot of companies make jackets, parkas, and other cold-weather clothes for style rather than real outdoor use. Always check the label on a jacket before buying to make sure it isn't made with cheap polyester or cotton filling.
Generally, jackets made with down filling are warmer by far than alternatives. Some companies, however, have started making effective polyester filling. To separate decent coats from poor ones, research online before buying. The best outerwear and sleeping bags for camping are made of nylon or polyester shells and down filling.
Base layers and long underwear are often made of polyester, but synthetic fibers can be uncomfortable and unhealthy when they directly contact your skin. If you don't like the idea of synthetic underwear, try wearing cotton overlayered with wool.
What To Pack for Camping in Hot Weather
When you're planning to spend the night in a hot place, you might not have to worry much about layering. You should, however, make sure you have enough clothes to cover exposed skin from the sun. Hot climates can also attract mosquitos, so make sure to bring long-sleeve shirts and long sleeve pants for warding off insects during the cooler hours of the night.
In hot weather, you should always have a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a reliable water vessel. Try to find a hat with a wide enough brim to cover your whole face. If you plan to do any hiking, bring a camelback water system or a water bottle that you can easily store in a backpack.
Materials To Look For
Cotton is often a poor choice for hot weather because it takes a long time to dry. If cotton garments become soaked in sweat, they'll stay damp for days unless conditions become extremely dry. Instead look for clothes with moisture-wicking, part-synthetic fibers. Nylon and polyester dry quickly and can keep you cool. Despite retaining heat, wool blends are usually your best bet for socks, as they keep moisture away from your feet.
How To Handle Damp Weather
Rain and mist are every camper's worst nightmare, but they can easily be handled with the right preparation. If you suspect even a chance of precipitation, bring a large tarp that can be used as a rainfly. Buy a tent with a decent rain cover, and make sure it's rated for the appropriate season. Find a good raincoat and a pair of waterproof shoes. Position your campfire at the edge of your rainfly, and keep cooking supplies and other valuable items underneath.
If you've done all of this, you shouldn't have much to worry about. It can even feel cozy playing cards or camp games with your friends or family under the protection of a waterproof tarp with a warm fire nearby.
How To Make a Camping Checklist
Before leaving on your trip, a checklist of what to pack for camping is essential. Lay all of your gear and items in front of you and tally up what you need against what you have. Some common but useful items you may overlook include:
- Knife or multitool
- Matches or lighters
- Cooking fuel and cooking surface
You should also make sure you have the basics:
- Underwear and socks
- Hat for rain and sun protection
- Pants and shirts
- Outer layers
- Pads and chairs
Of course, only you can know if you've prepared properly for your trip. Make your checklist process a habit, and be sure to physically acknowledge each item on your list. If you're staying for an extended time in nature or backpacking, your list may be quite long or detailed, but planning properly for these trickier adventures is even more important.
Getting Together What To Pack for Camping
Now that you know what to pack for camping, you know one item that should always be on your list is a good hat. If you have curly or thick hair, however, finding one can be a chore. For the best hats tailored to those with tough hat hair, visit Beautifully Warm online today.