To fully experience the outdoors more than just a day trip, camping is typically your best option. Camping can be as hard or as easy as you want to make it. Some people like to have a full day of hiking into the backcountry to ensure they are far enough away from civilization, while some like to be able to pull their car into a parking space and set up camp just a few feet away. Depending on your style, you may like to rough it as much as possible or have all the modern conveniences just a few feet away. Whichever camping style you identify with, there are a few ways to get the most out of your camping trip.
This will vary from just a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad to multiple cushions and pillows. If you are hiking into the backcountry, a sleeping bag and a bit of padding are usually necessary but add unwanted weight. After a long day of hiking, your body will be very grateful for the extra bit of padding if it helps you get some much needed rest for the hike out. It all depends how much weight you can carry and how far you’re willing to go for a comfortable nights rest.
If you are camping in a spot where you can drive up next to your site, you have the option of bringing as much padding as you desire. I’ve seen people bring egg crates, blow up mattresses and multiple pillows. As the furthest walking you will have to do with the bedding is typically 10 feet from the car to the campsite, you can bring as much bedding as your car can fit.
Headlamps look cool and are fun to use. But are they completely necessary? Headlamps can get quite expensive, so sometimes you may be better off with a flashlight. Before you buy an expensive headlamp, determine what you need the lighting for.
If you plan on doing extensive night hiking, climbing or walking around a larger campsite, then it may be worth the investment. However if you just need light to get from the campfire to the outhouse and back, you may just want to stick to a flashlight (which you probably already have).
One thing I have learned from years of hiking and camping; you can never have too much water. The amount of water you need to bring depends on the temperature, elevation and local water sources. For a typical long day hike, 3-4 liters of water is standard. Therefore you should double that if you are doing the same hike on the way out, plus any water you need to cook with or drink at night.
Before your hike check to see if your campsite has nearby water sources and any information on the safety of drinking this water. If there are no red flags, you may be able to filter or boil this water and drink it. There are a large number of filters on the market that are useful to have to refill your water and cook campside with.
4. Protection from the elements
Always check the weather before heading on a camping trip. If it is windy, cold and rainy, you may want to reschedule. Even if you check the weather, you should always be prepared for unexpected changes.
Most tents come with a rain fly, make sure you bring that with you and assemble it to protect from nightly showers and wind gusts. Additionally it may be helpful to have a rain jacket, unless you are camping next to your car.
Sun protection is also a must. A bad sunburn will make your camping uncomfortable and sleeping painful. If you have a long hike in to the campsite, sunscreen and sunglassses are provide sun protection. A pair of polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from the water's reflection if you will be near a body of water.
Camping is a fun way to bond with friends and sleep under the stars. What you need for a successful trip will vary on the location and time of year, so adjust accordingly. If you forget something or run into problems, remember that sometimes the best stories often come from tough times!