An awesome article from our friend Tadej at Camping Tent Lovers – a great resource for experienced and newbie camping tips and outdoor gear reviews.
Camping can be uncomfortable, especially if it’s new to you. After the initial culture shock of the forest and the modern amenities it lacks, you can get into the mindset of what would make your time out in nature more enjoyable. With every camping trip you’ll learn how to make tent camping a little bit more comfortable but not everyone has the time or patience to learn from their mistakes. So, here are some tips that will speed up the process and make your next camping trip more comfortable.
Expectations, expectations, expectations
Let’s be honest, the first time you go camping might not to be that great. There are a lot of logistics to think about, a lot of new things to learn, from recognising the signs of a thunderstorm to staving off frostbite in a particularly unpleasant trip. But that’s just your first trip. Once you’ve gotten over the initial hurdle, each one becomes easier.
Stay close to home for your first camping trip
A great camping tip that I like to give beginners is to have your first camping trip be right in your backyard. You can acquaint yourself with all of your gear and learn how to operate it in a no-risk, stress-free environment. It won’t matter if it’s raining and you can get the tent set up quickly because you can always just go inside, dry off, wait out the rain, and then try the tent again. It also gives you a chance to unpack all of your gear and speed up your tent pitching routine.
Going camping on the spur of the moment can seem adventurous but it’s very easy to forget something essential or that you really wanted to bring in all of the shuffle of the moment getting ready. So I recommend having a list. If you are the type to go spontaneously, keep a list with you that’s mostly ready to go. Or, better yet, have the camping things in one spot, one bag, or one storage container completely ready to go.
Plan for extras
Always plan to take a little more than you might need (only a little). Whether it’s food or water or clothing layers, it’s always best to have too much than too little. Plus, if you’re in an incredible place maybe you want to stay an extra day? Being comfortable means being able to run with new ideas as they come up.
Plan for the unexpected
Likewise, things don’t always work the way you pictured them in your head. Perhaps you forget your hiking permit and can’t get a new one because the internet is down. Perhaps you’d planned to make camp 10 km ahead but bad weather means you’ve got to set the tents up early. Planning for foul circumstances means that you don’t have to worry about the worst things that can happen, because you already know what they are and you’re already prepared. Being comfortable means having peace of mind.
It’s easy to get your heart set on something, but circumstances don’t always work out that way. For example, maybe you were really looking forward to camping in a secluded spot on your own but it turns out everyone else had the same idea. Whilst you can’t kick the rest of the campers out of the park you can take some earplugs and make some friends too. There’s something to be said about being easy going and being able to ride the changing circumstances and roll with the punches
There’s a surprising amount of different furniture items that can easily be inflated and don’t take up too much space. From air mattresses to couches to armchairs, it all exists. Sleeping well on a nice air mattress can make all the difference between a grouchy morning and a watching an enjoyable sunrise. So having nice furniture that packs away really small and super light is a great decision. Don’t forget that you can always re-purpose other items that you may need to bring along. For example, a water cooler can become a table or bench. A sturdy empty bucket is perhaps the most versatile tool of all.
Think about the weather
Figure out what the weather will be like before your trip and think how you can prepare for it properly. If high winds are forecast think about camping in a sheltered area. If you know there’s going to be heavy rain make sure your gear is fully waterproof and you’ve got changes of clothes so you don’t end up soggy. If there’s going to be a heatwave do you really need that heavy insulated jacket? Put some trust in those weather people and plan accordingly!
Not having insects buzzing around you, nagging you to feed them can be a huge relief, particularly if you’re in a malarial zone. Put on some bug spray with DEET or other proven insect-warding chemicals and you’ll be much happier. For moderate to heavy insect areas, keep all of the doors closed and the mesh tent windows opened, so that it keeps bugs out but keeps air flowing through your temporary home.
Helping to protect your environment will make everyone’s camping experience more comfortable. The best rule to follow is ‘leave no trace‘, leave your campsite just as you left it no matter where you are. This means bringing bags for your litter and if you see rubbish which isn’t yours then clear that up too. If there’s branches obstructing the perfect camping spot, then find another, don’t clear vegetation for your tent or hammock. Think about the wildlife you’re sharing the area with, perhaps they don’t appreciate music until 5am. Camping is meant to be a relaxing experience shared with nature not ruining it.
If you’ve had a long day getting to your camping spot, maybe you’re cold and wet, bringing some comforting food could be the perfect remedy. Bring along some of your favourite snacks and some meals that will be easy to prepare for your first night. If you’ve got room in your bag, why not bring a bottle of wine too! Just be wary that foods that are overly sugary or salty will attract more insects – especially mosquitoes. Junk foods are also more likely to make you feel tired and dehydrated sooner.
There aren’t any rules that say that you have to suffer out in the deepest of the wilds. If camping in the wilderness isn’t up your street then consider camping at campgrounds. There are even some that have lodging pre-assembled and ready to be used, or more luxurious, already furnished. Being able to use a normal restroom out in the forest is very relaxing and can be the make or break point for new campers.
How to make tent camping more comfortable
Camping can be the experience of a lifetime if you’re prepared. Make your camping trip as comfortable as possible by following these tips and let us know how you get on!