Thanks to Summer Blessed for sharing these tips learned from years of camping fun! Even if you camp a lot, take the time to read these. I’ve been camping since I was a child and I learned a couple of new ideas for making the trip more enjoyable!
CAMPING TIPS BY SUMMER BLESSED
Camping is such a wonderful way to connect with family and friends. It is grounding and peaceful. It gives a glimpse into nature that can’t be recreated. Sleeping under the stars is one of the best gifts you can give yourself in this lifetime. Camping is the perfect marriage of preparedness, nature and resilience. It can be a very calming, relaxing trip. If you follow these tips, your trip is sure to be an enjoyable one. I have several categories of importance.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: weather, clothing, shoes, shower bags
I often field questions about the latest, greatest gadgets out there for camping. But, I want to point out that camping can be quite inexpensive. You don’t need to buy 200.00 sleeping bags to have fun.
Know the weather for your camping location. But don’t rely on the 7 day forecast – it’s often wrong! Check the weather no more than 2 days before your trip, and even then you might be surprised. Bring raincoats/ponchos and boots just in case. You can always leave them in the car.
Bring one outfit per person, per day as a bare minimum and two extra complete outfits are a good idea. Nothing feels better than having a clean outfit to put on. Include underclothing, socks and shoes in your calculations. If the weather is cooler, layering thinner clothes rather than wearing bulky clothes is the best way to stay warm. With layering heat is trapped between the layers of your clothing, and you have the option to add a layer or remove a layer easily as temperatures fluctuate during the day and night.
I pack clothing in extra large Ziploc bags that are clear. The size that are 2ftx 2ft work really well. I also put the name of the person on their bag! I pack the bag with the next to use outfit on top. This works great for little ones that want to be independent. We keep these Ziplocs in a tub in the tent. Keeping the lid closed helps us not scatter clean clothing with dirty. It also makes sure we have a clean outfit that doesn’t smell like campfire smoke. We pack well worn clothing that is comfortable and useful. Functional should be your theme. You don’t need 5 sweaters. One or two will suffice. Less is more in the camping lifestyle. Pick clothes that have pockets, zippers and utility features. You never know when you will need an extra pocket to carry acorns or sea shells. Pockets are your friend!
Also in the tent, we keep a tub for shoes. This helps keep shoes together and the mess on the bottom of the shoes stays in the tub, not on the tent floor. This also has the priceless benefit of keeping spiders and such out of your shoes! It’s a good idea to bring an extra pair of shoes for each person in case they get wet on a hike or something.
Create a shower bag. This bag should be made of nylon mesh so that it can dry easily if wet. If you don’t want to buy bags, you can save the large mesh bags that grapefruits come in. In my family we have a man’s shower bag and a woman’s shower bag. This way, the whole family can shower at once and not wait on the shower bag! This year, I will have a shower bag for each family member because my kids are older and have special requests for toiletries and need privacy. I include shampoo, conditioner, razor, shave cream, bar soap, towel and hair brush/tooth brush for each person. We consider the needs of each person. We also use shower shoes so that we can shower without fear of standing on a mushy, moldy surface that sometimes you would find at camp shower facilities. Shower shoes keep the ‘ewwww’ factor down. That towel I mentioned is also one per person. The shower bag makes life super easy at the campground! Don’t forget to grab your change of clothes and add it to the shower bag when you get ready to shower. My shower bags also have an extra mesh bag to hold dirty clothing away from everything else. Camping can be messy and hard on clothes, so this helps!
- KNOW YOUR WEATHER IN THE LOCATION OF THE CAMPSITE
- PACK ONE OUTFIT PER PERSON PER DAY, INCLUDING SOCKS AND UNDERWEAR AND UNDERGARMENTS
- PACK TWO SPARE OUTFITS WITH ONE SPARE PAIR OF SHOES IN A SEPARATE LOCATION
- USE XXL ZIPLOC BAGS TO PACK CLOTHING IN WITH NAMES CLEARLY MARKED
- USE A TUB WITH LID FOR CLOTHING or SMOKE/WATERPROOF CONTAINER
- USE A TUB WITH LID FOR SHOES or CLOSED CONTAINER
- BUILD A SHOWER BAG WITH TOILETRIES, SHOWER SHOES AND 1 TOWEL PER PERSON
THE GEAR: tents, bedding, lighting
I love a nice tall, roomy tent to sleep in. The tent is key in keeping you warm or cool, dry or wet. It is your shelter while tent camping! Choose one that is well made, with sealed seams to keep out the rain. I personally use a tent with a rain fly. This is a cover for your tent that is separately staked into the ground and clipped to the poles of your tent in most cases. I also like to place a tarp under the tent. This insulates the tent from the temperature of the ground. Metal tent stakes and a rubber mallet are the best. Plastic tent stakes break under the wear and tear of use.
Once you have shelter, start thinking about your sleeping needs. We use air mattresses. If you choose air mattresses, consider how you will inflate those. I use a battery powered air pump. If you are short on space, foam rolls are a much more compact solution for use in the tent. We use standard size pillows and blankets. If it is very cold, I suggest sleeping bags that are rated for cold weather temperatures. You will find the rate information on the sleeping bags at the store. They give the temperature range for that bag. Sleeping bags help hold in the heat during cold weather camping. During hot weather, we use sheets rather than sleeping bags in order to stay cool. Again the layering concept can be helpful for bedding since you never know how the weather might change in Texas!
The next consideration is lighting. I like to have small flashlights for every family member. I love the camping lanterns that run on LED lights. They usually have several lighting options. You will need at least one of these larger lanterns to provide lighting for a large area such as the camp kitchen or tent. Head lamps are also handy for cooking, reading or any other activity requiring both hands. We like to use solar powered or hand crank flashlights to cut down on battery usage. One of my favorite additions to a campsite is string lighting. We hang several strings of lights to provide charm and ambient lighting. We also bring several extension cords to aid in lighting our space.
CAMP FIRE: wood, tools, fire starter
Campfires are a delight for every camper. You will need plenty of wood if you plan to have a fire every night. Choose a source ahead of time or plan to pack in your firewood. There are often homes or businesses near State Parks that sell firewood. Also, be sure to pack in tools to tend your fire. We like to have a small axe, fire poker and shovel. I also bring fire starter in case of inclement weather. We use matches to ignite the fire – keep those in a ziplock bag or other water proof container. Bring plenty of kindling because gathering firewood at Cleburne State Park is prohibited. Kindling is smaller pieces of wood (very small to medium) that light easily and burn long enough to ignite the larger logs. Pack in your kindling An open fire is also a great way to cook your food. I will talk more about that in Part 2.
- CHOOSE A QUALITY TENT
- DECIDE ON YOUR SLEEPING SURFACE
- CHOOSE BEDDING FOR THE TEMPERATURE
- BRING ADEQUATE LIGHTING and EXTENSION CORDS
- SOURCE WOOD FOR THE CAMPFIRE BEFORE YOU GET TO CAMP
- REMEMBER TOOLS FOR THE FIRE