How to Prepare for an Epic Camping Season
Summer is just around the corner and will be here before you know it. If you’re like most people, your camping gear likely needs some TLC from last camping season. Maybe you ran out of time in late summer when you were preparing for hunting season. Maybe it sat in your garage or basement collecting dust all winter. You’re not alone. Use these tips to get ready this year.
Very few activities make lasting memories like camping does. It can be a wonderful retreat from the technological world, with gorgeous scenery and perfect weather. But if you’re not prepared for changing conditions, it can also be a frustrating and miserable experience. Don’t be that couple or family down the trail bickering and complaining when they should be having a relaxing getaway.
Start by making a checklist of your camping gear so that planning your next trip will be worry-free. A good list to start with would include: tent, tarp/footprint, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, appropriate clothing, rain gear, food options, water containers, knife, rope/cord, fire starters, insect repellent, and a headlamp/flashlight. Obviously feel free to tweak this list based on if you’re car camping or doing an extended backpacking trip.
Let’s start with arguably one of the most important items. Dig your tent out of storage and set it up in your yard for tent maintenance. You’ll want to let it air out, but you should also use this time to inspect for any holes, tears in the seams, bent poles, stake count, etc. You should really do this after each trip or at the end of camping season if possible, but now is the next best time. If it’s an older tent, you should consider waterproofing the fly to avoid waking up in a puddle.
If the old standby tarp you put under your tent has seen better days, consider purchasing a tent footprint made for your tent model. It’s basically a tarp barrier that is sized exactly for your tent base. This eliminates rainwater from collecting underneath your tent. Alternatively, you can use a new tarp and just fold the edges under the tent, as well.
Be sure to bring a sleeping bag and clothing that match your anticipated conditions. Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, it’s always smart to bring rain gear. You never know when the meteorologists might have an unlucky day. Also, it might be blazing hot and humid during the day, which means you may need performance clothing to stay cool. But at night it could get downright chilly. You do not want to spend all day soaking in cotton clothes and then have a summer sleeping bag that won’t keep you warm at night. Trust me. Unless you’re planning on a big hiking trip, bring extra blankets in the car as a precaution.
Before camping season, stock up on some batteries for your headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns, and test them out to make sure they still work. Fumbling in your dark tent at midnight is not the time or place to do that. Gather up your other miscellaneous items (e.g., rope, knife, repellent, matches, etc.) into a small tote so that you don’t have to track each one down before a camping excursion. Some other nice items to include in this tote are sunglasses, sun block, a small first aid kit, and duct tape.
When it comes to camp nutrition, you can be as extravagant as you want or as your trip allows. If you plan on car camping, you can bring along a grill to make gourmet burgers. If you are going backpacking, stock up on dehydrated or dry good meals. Regardless, it helps to use a separate tote or bag as your camp kitchen, where you can store plates, cups, utensils, towels, bags, soap, and cooking spices all together. Before camping season, take all these items out, wash and dry them thoroughly, and organize them. You can then easily pick and choose which items you want to bring with on your next hiking trip, or toss the whole thing in the vehicle if car camping.
There you have it. Now you know what to prepare for camping season and will be ready to go at a moment’s notice. You never know when you might want to skip town on a Friday afternoon when the sun is shining and the weather is nice.