BACKPACKING BASICS

Tent Camping Tips: Hacks, Tips, And Tricks for the Modern Camper!

Tent Camping Tips
Sean Nelson
Written by Sean Nelson

Camping is a way to re-center yourself among the chaos and madness of modern life. Whether you’re a camping veteran or virgin, you’re bound to get a healthy dose of exercise, some much needed time to decompress, and an intrinsic appreciation for the great outdoors.

You will undoubtedly feel the immensity of the world and universe as you take in nature and experience its vastness and the right tent camping tips will help you.

Sometimes it’s ok to feel small! Like an explorer, pioneer, or cowboy, you can travel to a campsite far away to encounter new terrain, or be a homebody, just pitching a tent in your backyard. Either way, you get to gaze at an unobstructed view of the stars and ponder the meaning of life. Not to mention, camping is one of the cheapest vacations you’ll ever take! Tent-camping is a great way to just stop, breathe, and slow down.

One of the best parts of camping is the exercise you get! When you go camping, doors open to innumerable activities that don’t even feel like exercise while you’re doing them: canoeing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, tubing, rock-climbing, backpacking, bird watching, geocaching, etc. Hike, explore, and participate in the amazing experiences the natural world can offer!

Useful Camping Tips

Part of the allure of camping is that no two camping trips are exactly alike. Each time you plan a trip, the experience will offer unique experiences and fun stories to share with family and friends. However, if you decide to go camping (and you should!) there are a few things you should consider beforehand so you can have the very best experience possible, every time.

Whether you’re an expert or novice, we’ve compiled a list to help make your camping experience easy, enjoyable, and memorable. Anyone can use these hacks, tips, and reminders to take camping to the next level!

Choosing The Site

Choosing the proper campsite is imperative to having a good time! Depending on how far away you want to travel, whether you’re backpacking into the site, what sort of weather conditions you want to experience, the wildlife you would like to encounter, and the types of activities you would like to try, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration.

Camping site

Once you decide on the area, the next step is to choose the actual location of where you’ll set up camp. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Ground Surface – Make sure that, wherever you decide to pitch your tent, the surface is not only level, but also of a consistent material. Try to find a space that is wholly covered in grass or sand, so you can wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready for adventure.
  • Shade – Pitching a tent in shade can ensure your comfort. Many tents attract and retain heat and a tent that is fully exposed to the sun can become unbearable.
  • Above You – Be aware of your surroundings, specifically what is looming right above your head. Avoid rocky overhangs, avalanche passes, dead tree limbs, etc.
  • Around You – It is always good to explore the surrounding area to locate water sources, cliff edges, animal dwellings, flooded areas, etc.
  • Privacy – The reason you are out in nature is to experience the wildlife and get away from the hustle and bustle. Try to avoid camping close to other campsites. You’ll save yourself from having to experience other peoples’ schedules and noise.

Home Away From Home – The Tent

This will be your home base in the wild, so it’s imperative to get the right tent!  There are so many options on the market today that it might be confusing.

The tent

Follow these tips to make sure you are purchasing the correct tent for your adventure.

  • For starter’s, weight will be an important factor to consider if you are backpacking.
  • It’s helpful to note that the “tent’s capacity” is the absolute maximum number of people that could fit in the tent; not that should. When deciding on a tent, always go for an option that offers space for one or two extra people. This means that, if you are expecting to share a tent with 4 people, opt for a tent that actually holds 5 or 6. You will be much more comfortable.
  • Tent buying is not a time to be overly thrifty. You’ll want a tent that is light-weight and has the necessary amenities such as a dome-design (for optimum head room), waterproofing, aluminum poles (there are fiberglass options, but they tend to be more fragile and no one wants to sleep in a collapsed tent), folded seams and double stitching (you should not be able to see through the seams), no-see-um meshing to keep bugs at bay, a roof vent to provide air circulation and eliminate condensation, a rain fly, and heavy-duty zippers that will take a beating.

Food

No matter where you are, whether in the city or the great outdoors, there are some things that never change, like the need to feed.

Bacpacking camping food

Image credit: wordpress.com

Camping can pose some interesting challenges when it comes to planning fireside meals. Be sure to take these handy tips into consideration before planning your camp menu!

  • Enough Is Not Enough – Most packing for camping calls for paring down and compressing all the baggage. Food is one of the rare exceptions. When camping, you want to take more than you expect to eat. No one has fun when all they can think about is their grumbling tummy. A good rule of thumb for packing food is to plan for each person to eat 1.5 – 2.5 lbs. of food per day. To suit your needs and style of living, you can add a bit more depending on how hard you will be exerting yourself.
  • Lose The Mass – Although you want to pack enough food, it’s not adequate to simply choose your meals at random and hope for the best. You’ll want to carefully plan meals that involve food that does not take up a considerable amount of space. Protein bars, nuts, dried fruits, complex carbohydrates, canned goods, and dehydrated food make excellent options. Be sure to check out your local outdoorsy store to see their pre-packaged food options. Many are both tasty and convenient!
  • Spice Up Your Life – Consider bringing along some standard spices to bring a yummy twist to your meals. Spices also provide flavorful options if some of your camping activities include hunting or fishing! Some staples to include are salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and cinnamon.

Water

One of the most important steps is to research your campsite ahead of time to establish the best way to obtain water.

Whether it’s the campground’s water, a lake, river, stream, etc. your best bet is to use one of the following three options to ensure the water is safe.

Water while camping

Never assume that just because a water source looks clean and clear that harmful bacteria and viruses aren’t present. If there are no water sources available, you will have to make room to accommodate accordingly.

  • Filter – A filter system pumps water from any water source i.e. a lake, river, or spring and mechanically removes bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. By straining out microscopic contaminants, filtered water is pure enough to consume. Always check the pore-size efficiency of your filter. For the most effective purifying system (one that removes not only protozoa but bacteria as well) you’ll want a pore-size efficiency of less than 0.4 microns.
  • Tablets – Chemical tablets offer an inexpensive and convenient option to purify water. The most commonly used is iodine to kill unwanted bacteria that could do serious harm. A couple of downsides to using chemical tablets include their tendency to affect the taste of the water, plus they only have a shelf life of about 6 months once opened.
  • Boiling – Water boiling offers a third option to purify water. It is, however, the most time-consuming and inefficient option of the three. This is because boiling water takes time and fuel and must cool after boiling in order to be consumed.

Setting up a campfire

A big part of the camping experience is cooking over a campfire. Here are some ways you can ensure a positive campfire cooking experience.

  • Plan for cooking most of your meals over an open fire on a skillet, pot, or open grill.
  • Some tools you’ll want to pack for this sort of cooking include oven mitts or thick leather gloves for protection, tongs, spatulas, long-handled utensils, and basic utensils.
  • Prepare the fire at least 30 minutes before your planned cooking time. That’s how long it will take for the flames to subside and become the hot coals you want to cook over.
  • Allot an area for hot coals that is separate from the fire itself. Surround this area with 4 substantial rocks that will act as your makeshift cooking pedestal. This way your pan or skillet is sitting over the coals, while giving you enough space to replace the dying coals with fresh ones.

Sleep Soundly

Many people avoid camping simply because they don’t want to spend sleepless nights in uncomfortable quarters. However, today’s campers have almost endless sleeping options.

Campfire made in the woods

Here are some tips on how you can truly make a comfortable bed you’ll want to sleep in, even after your camping trip is finished!

  • How will you want to sleep? With today’s vast array of choices, you can find the most comfortable and practical option to suit your needs. Some of these include self-inflating foam pads, air pads, regular foam pads, air mattresses, hammocks, and cots.
  • Invest in a quality temperature-regulating sleeping bag! Depending on your destination you’ll want a sleeping bag that keeps you cool or cozy.
  • Once you have your essentials, you’ll want to bring those items that are your sleep-insurance should you encounter less-than-desirable conditions. When it comes to pillows, there are a multitude of options that are space-saving and comfortable. Some of these include inflatable pillows or scaled-down camp pillows. For ultimate practicality, consider simply bringing a pillowcase and stuffing it with your clothes! You also may want to consider bringing eye pads and ear plugs. This way you can easily block out those irritating noises and lights.

What to Wear

Part of the fun in camping is being exposed to different weather conditions. Of course you’ll want to be prepared with the right gear for your optimum camping experience. Just remember, however, that camping isn’t the time to show off your high fashion sense.

Backpacking clothes

You’ll want to bring weather appropriate, practical, sturdy, comfortable clothes that keep you dry and you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Here are some things to consider:

  • Shoes – Your shoes should offer maximum comfort and stability. Options such as hiking boots, backpacking boots, open-design sandals, and closed-design sandals offer feasible options for wearers. Think about the weather and the terrain you will be traversing and then make decisions accordingly. Be sure to look into shoes that have warranty options available! They may be a bit pricier, but are definitely worth it.
  • Pack in Capsules – Consider packing your clothes as outfits, and keeping those outfits together. This way you don’t have to worry about bringing enough clothing, losing items, or planning what you have to wear. Instead, every day, you simply take out another capsule, et voila you are ready to go!
  • Stay Warm – No matter where you are going, bring a couple of clothing items that are meant to keep you warmer than you think you’ll need to be. Many times, even in deserts, nights can prove to be cold. You won’t regret packing a sweater in those instances.

Leave a Good Impression

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” This popular camping motto is one to live by out in the wild. Camping is a way for the world to enjoy nature. In order to do that, everyone needs to take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves (at campsites and in life). Here are some tips on how to leave a campsite spick and span:

  • Pack garbage bags to assist you in cleaning before you leave. They can also be used as rain gear in a pinch.
  • Never leave an active fire unattended. Before leaving your campsite at any time, let the fire burn down to ash, put it out completely, and then scatter the cool ashes. To further minimize impact on the environment, try to use fire sites that are already established.
  • Keep your campsite as small as possible. By keeping your site compact you are helping to keep the nature around you pure and undisturbed. Future generations of campers will thank you for your responsible camping!
  • Avoid contact with animals. This is not just a tip for the animal’s well-being, but also for your safety. Many people don’t realize how dangerous a wild animal can be until it is too late. Let the wildlife live in peace, and enjoy their beauty from afar.
  • Know how and where to bury human waste. In this way, you can avoid polluting water sources, evade the negative consequences of another camper finding it, circumvent catching or spreading disease, and increase the rate of decomposition. To properly dispose of human feces one must start by digging a cathole (a hole 6-8 inches deep and approximately 4 inches in diameter). When finished, the cathole should be refilled and then covered with natural material.
  • Try to hike on trails that have already been blazed, in a single file line. The more trails that are established, the more the area is disrupted.
  • Never leave anything at the campsite that was not there to begin with. If you brought it with you, bring it back with you.

If you’re nervous about camping for the first time, take it slow and take it easy. Let yourself get used to the outdoors before you do some extreme camping. For instance, you wouldn’t climb Mount Everest the very first time you went on a hike. So, take your time. If you think you would like a backpacking trip, try backpacking for a day!

If you want to spend some time on the water, rent a canoe and see how you like paddling for a couple of hours. Start small and grow from there.

Leave nothing but footprints

Once you are out camping and enjoying all that nature has to offer, relax and enjoy yourself. You’re there to have a good time and leave the stress behind you. It’s inevitable that you will encounter some bumps in the road. The best mindset is to look at them as simple learning experiences!

Camping could be just what you need to invigorate and refresh your lust for life. Don’t let the idea of the unknown intimidate you!

The camping industry today has so many great informative resources and tools to make camping hassle-free and, most importantly, enjoyable. As long as you do some research beforehand and are ready for adventure, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.

  • Linda Jones

    One day I went camping with my friends. Unfortunately, I have not checked the tent at the house. When we arrived at the camping site and decided to install this tent, we saw that the zipper was broken. It was very uncomfortable to sleep at night, because there were a lot of mosquitoes. What are the tricks against mosquitoes? Advice me, please.

  • Sean Nelson

    Aside from warding off mosquitoes, the best advice I can give you is to check on your gear before you leave for camp. Being proactive and being prepared spells the difference to your survival in the outdoors. Mosquito repellents work best in any situation so always have that handy.

  • John Robinson

    Hello! In three weeks I’m going camping with my wife. We want to set up a tent on the beach. However, we do not know the beaches that allow camping. We are planning a hike in Los Angeles area. What can you recommend us? I will be grateful for your help.

  • Sean Nelson

    Hi John! My friend who lives in California swears by Leo Carillo, Salton Sea or the campgrounds in Catalina Island. Wherever you choose to go, pick your spot, pitch your tent and enjoy yourselves!

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