Planning a Camping Trip
When planning for a camping trip, start by choosing where and when you are going. Once you have a timeline for your trip, start thinking about how to get there. Car camping is the easiest option and the one most people like to start with. To do this, find a campground that allows you to drive your car right up to the campsite and reserve one of the spots in advance, if possible. These types of campground usually require you to pay a small fee for the night but there are considerable benefits such as bathroom facilities and having the freedom to pack your car with as many supplies as you’d like. Being able to drive your car to the campsite means you can store all your gear in the vehicle and thus not worry about the size and weight of it all.
For those looking for a more rugged adventure, or those more experienced in the outdoors, backpacking is the logical next step. Backpacking is the art of packing all your camp gear into a backpack and hiking into your campsite. The appeal to backpacking is the full emersion into nature. There are no roads, no cars, or any of the other annoyances of modern-day life. Sometimes the focus is on hiking, and you only camp to recover for the next day’s hike; sometimes the focus is to enjoy hard-to-reach places and spend some time far from anyone else!
Once you have decided on your location, length of trip, and mode of transport it’s time to look at logistics. Here are three major elements you’ll need to consider:
• Uncontrollable Trip Challenges
• Gear Choices
• Food and Fuel
Uncontrollable Trip Challenges (UTCs) are elements of a trip that are beyond your control such as: the weather forecast, terrain, and distance. When looking at these you should consider your navigation method (e.g. map, compass, GPS, or smart phone). You will also need to understand and plan for the terrain you will have to cross. Are there lots of changes in elevation (e.g. mountains)? Will you need to cross or avoid rivers? Are all the roads open to your campsite? If the weather is looking poor, will you need to change your travel plans, or can you make up for the weather with better gear choices?
Make sure you understand how far you will have to walk. If you are doing a multi-day hike, how long will each day’s hike be before reaching the campsite?
The gear you choose will reflect your choice of adventure. If you are car camping, you may not need a big backpack, so a small day-pack might be a better option. Also, as a car camper you will have more room for luxuries like a cooler for fresh food, charcoal for a BBQ, a rain shelter, camp chairs, and even a folding table!
Basic camping essentials list
• Sleeping mat
• Sleeping Bag
• Bug spray and Sunscreen
• Toilet Paper
• GPS / Smartphone
• Compass and Map
• Knife / axe / saw
Food and Fuel
• Stove fuel
• Food for duration of trip
Choose your food and fuel to match your trip. If you are planning on backpacking for more than a day or two, be sure to pack adequate calories. A 150lb man with a full backpack will burn around 500-calories per hour of walking. That’s a lot of food! Dehydrated or freeze dried meals are a lightweight option for those looking for a simple way to meal plan.
If you are car camping, you have almost infinite options for food. Find a nice big cooler and pack it full of all your favorite foods! Use frozen water bottles as an alternative to loose ice, as they won’t get all your food wet when they thaw, plus you will be left with bottles of water to drink. Or keep the bottles and refreeze for your next trip.
Fuel is whatever you will use to cook food, boil water, and possibly keep warm. When car camping, you are more likely to have access to a fire-pit or BBQ, so if that is the case, you can pick up some seasoned firewood or charcoal for all your cooking and heating needs. If you are using a portable fuel stove, check what type of fuel it uses and make sure you have enough for your trip.
There are many types of camp-stoves that are designed for backpacking (they tend to be very small and lightweight). When choosing a stove, be mindful of the fuel type and whether it is available in your area. Common fuel types for backpacking stoves include: white gas (Coleman Fuel), butane/propane canisters, and alcohol.
When it comes to outdoor adventure, the most important thing is to stay within your limits. Be sure you are following best hiking practices when you go out into the wild. Also, be sure to plan well and always check your equipment before going out to make sure it’s in working order and so you know how to use it when the time comes.
Set up your tent at home. Make sure your footwear is broken in. Check the weather and make sure you have packed the appropriate clothing. And of course, Check that your first aid kit is stocked up with the right supplies.
No matter what adventure you decide to have, planning and preparing is the first step. Take the time to read through this list, write down the essentials and put them on your wall. As you pack, tick items off the list.
Now that you know what to do, tell us where you are going to going to go in the comments below!
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