Get the Right Gear
You’ll want to make sure that you have enough tent room for everyone going on the trip. This may mean bringing along multiple three-person tents. Don’t forget a tent footprint or tarp to prevent moisture from seeping into your sleeping bags through the tent floor. Sleeping bags are always a must, but don’t forget to pair them with a sleeping mat and extra blankets. Nothing’s worse than getting out in the wilderness, settling into your sleeping bag, and realizing you didn’t prepare for the cold night. Flashlights and lanterns are also a must — just make sure you bring extra batteries and fuel!
Test Your Equipment
You know what sucks? Getting all of your gear together, packing up the van, heading out to your pre-selected campsite, setting up the entire camp, and then finding out in the middle of the night during a heavy rain that there’s a hole in your tent.
Nobody wants that.
Test out all your equipment before you leave on your trip. To make sure your tent is weather-proof, set it up in your backyard and spray/pour water over it. if your tent has been in storage for a while, it’s also a good idea to set it up to air out and make sure there’s no mold, holes, or dead bugs that have gone undiscovered since your last camping trip.
Also test our your cooking equipment to make sure everything works properly. It’s important to test out all new equipment so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises while you’re out in the wilderness.
Be the Early Bird
Get to your campsite before nightfall. You’ll want to have plenty of time to find the perfect level, dry, smooth area to pitch your tent. Avoid overhanging branches that could fall on you during a storm. Like this website says, “Plan to arrive in good time so you can spend a while looking for a good patch of flat, dry grass with no overhanging branches that won’t flood if it rains. Familiarizing yourself with the site and its important conveniences is also much easier in daylight.”
Cooking over a campfire is a lot of fun–for a while. Dry firewood isn’t always readily available, though, so it’s good to have an outdoor cooking alternative. These stoves are great for camp cooking — just make sure you bring extra fuel.
Be aware of the wildlife in your camping area. Do your research to find out if you should take bear spray, animal-proof food containers, etc. Many bears, chipmunks, squirrels, and deer will smell your food or other aromatic items you’re packing and come looking for easy food, especially if animals are used to finding campers’ food in your area. To help prevent this from happening, you can use freeze-dried food (it’s less aromatic). You may want to take rope along with you to suspend your food packs in between trees.
In any case, make sure food is stored at least 100 feet downwind of your campsite. Double bagging your food in zip-lock, air-tight bags is always a good idea. To prevent animals from ripping into your backpacks, leave your zippers open. Don’t dump rinse water near your camp or wipe food/messy hands on your clothes. If you do, make sure to store your clothes in the same place as your food.
Be prepared for any type of weather common for your area. If you’re camping during a seasonal transition, you’ll want to prepare for any type of weather, hot or cold, wet or dry. Wear moisture-wicking cloths that will keep you dry and warm. Like this website says, “Cotton is great for staying cool in the ‘burbs, but it’s not your friend in the woods. Instead, choose moisture-wicking clothes and synthetic or wool socks to keep the bod dry and sweat-free. Don’t forget to pack rain-gear, a sun hat, hiking boots, and a swimsuit just in case.”
Pack It In, Pack It Out
Lastly, leave your campsite in a better condition than when you found it. Make sure all trash is thrown away. If you can’t find trash cans or garbage bags anywhere, take your trash home with you and throw it away. Leaving food or other debris can attract animals and potential endanger any campers who come use your site after you.