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How to Camp Like a Pro: Tents, Sleeping Bags, The Whole Nine Yards

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Guest post by Outdoorish

There’s no question that camping is an experience that everyone should aim to have at least once, and also one that people will almost definitely be drawn back to on a regular basis after they’ve tried it.

Whether you do it by yourself or with a group, it’s just a fun and peaceful activity and it can be a great way to clear your mind and get more in touch with nature. It’s got numerous health benefits too, being a good way to relieve stress, enhance your sleep and get some much needed fresh air.

The trouble is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could find yourself making some pretty big mistakes. Mistakes which will lead to you not maximising your camping experience and instead spending the whole time frustrated, unsatisfied and possibly in danger.

After all, camping is essentially just going out into the wild and living there for a few nights. It’s not the kind of lifestyle that most of us are used to these days and in a way it can be quite restrictive.

That’s why you should approach camping with a lot of preparation done ahead of time. It’s wise to gather the knowledge necessary to ensure you have a great trip. Here’s what you need to know to camp like a pro:

Equipment

As you probably already guessed from the title, two of the most important pieces of equipment that you will need are a tent and a sleeping bag. The tent is essentially going to be your house while you’re camping so be meticulous in your selection.

The size will depend on whether you are by yourself or sharing with a group, but I would still be an advocate for picking a more spacious tent. For one thing, feeling cramped will not help with comfort and a bigger tent will be sturdier.

You need to be prepared for the possibility of bad weather and a tent that will stand up to that is essential. But at the same time, you have to consider that you will be carrying it around with you, so you do need a bit of a balance between size and convenience.

I would practice setting up the tent in your garden just to make sure you’ve figured out how ahead of time and aren’t in the woods at night with no clue how to assemble the thing. The sleeping bag should be a lightweight and compressible one.

Aim for one that has down feather insulation, this is a better weight-to-warmth ratio than synthetic insulation. Make sure that you also bring along a light source. A simple camping lantern should be sufficient.

I would also bring a lightweight, waterproof pocket blanket so that you have a dry place to sit on while eating. Alternatively, you could bring a fold up chair. Make sure to bring a refillable water container. Get one that’s decent-sized because you will be doing a lot of walking and also make sure it’s easy to clean.

Cooking

You don’t need to be an expert chef or anything when you’re camping, but you do need to eat and it’s good to learn how to do a little bit of basic cooking so that you can actually get some nourishment and energy.

First thing to remember is that you want to keep the food you bring fresh, so it would be wise to bring along a cooler for storage of any meat or cheese. Try to rely a lot on non-perishable and canned food too.

You’ll need cooking utensils and get some that are specific to camping so that they’re small and easy to carry. A small pot, a kettle, spatulas, tongs and a can opener. And even if you plan on cooking with a campfire, bring some fuel along just in case.

Plan your meals in advance. Come up with a list of different dishes that are going to be relatively quick and straightforward to put together and then do a bit of practice at home. Have meals in mind for every day and do bring along snacks.

Whatever kind of stuff you like. Snacks like oat bars and fruit would be good choices because you can get a bit of energy from them while you’re trekking through the woods.

Location

You have to be very careful about where you choose to pitch your tent and set up a campfire. If you’re a beginner, it might not be a bad idea to aim for specific campsites, so you can get a feel for what it’s like before you try secluded spots in the woods.

This way, there’s others around if you need any help and you can also get advice from them about some of the finer points of camping. If you’re ready to go out on your own then that’s cool too, but keep certain things in mind.

Firstly, you have to avoid private property. This shouldn’t be too hard if you are sticking to trails but just keep an eye out for any signs so you don’t pitch a tent on farmland or something. It’s also best not to camp on a hill.

Neither on the slope because then you’ll likely roll while asleep, nor on lower ground because then water could pool around your tent and you’d wake up in a puddle. Level ground is the way to go. Make sure you are camping in the shade too.

It will seem fine at night, but when the sun rises if your tent is exposed to it then the inside will feel like a sauna. Don’t camp too far from a water source, but also not too close in case the rain gets unexpectedly bad and you end up in a flooding situation.

Staying Safe & Warm

So when it comes to staying warm, you can of course bring along some kind of electrical heater, but that will be adding to your pack and it’s not entirely necessary. You can keep warm without electricity if you bring along the right clothes.

Some thermal vests and long johns and that sort of thing to wear while you’re sleeping. And as far as staying safe goes, it’s just about being careful. Don’t stray too far from well-walked trails unless you’re experienced.

Download maps of the area onto your phone so that you don’t have to rely on the internet connection which may be a bit lacking and be sure some friends or family know the general area you’ve decided to camp.

Know what animals are in the area and prepare adequately for that. Bring along bear mace if you need it but try to avoid wilderness where bear or mountain lion attacks are more common.

If you follow all of these steps, then you should be able to enjoy camping with as little stress, frustration and danger as possible. The goal is to have fun and to have a memorable experience and a little preparation goes a long way.

Guest post by Outdoorish

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