Stepping out into the woods this fall with your family? Because of the pleasant weather, it really is one of the nicest times to go camping, but you have got to be prepared. Changing seasons means that things can go wrong in a hurry if you are not prepared.
To get you off on the right path, here are some tips that can help make your camping trip a complete success for you and your family.
- Watch The Weather
This one should be obvious, but it is so important that it bears repeating. You should be checking the weather constantly up until and on the day of your camping trip. Check the weather a week out so that you can plan on what to bring with you and check it the day before and even the day of to see if there have been any changes.
It is also advisable to bring along a weather radio so that you can be aware of any rapidly changing weather conditions.
- Pack The Right Sleeping Bag
Choose a sleeping bag that is rated for at least 15 degrees below the lowest temperature that you expect. You can always unzip to cool things off, but you can never add extra insulation. Picking the right sleeping bag will ensure that you have a comfortable and safe sleeping experience.
Weather during the fall can be unpredictable, and it is oh to common to underestimate just how cold it can get. This is especially true if you fail to consider the cooling effect of nearby lakes and streams.
- Practice Camp Set Up
This is especially important if you are new to camping or even if you are just using a new piece of equipment. A dry run will allow you to learn how to set up as quick as possible and it could potentially point you towards additional supplies that you need to carry with you.
For example, a trial run might reveal that you failed to pack a tarp for under your tent or that the tent stakes included in that new tent are too flimsy.
- Get A Good Tent
Camping in the fall is not when you want to be testing that Walmart special. It might get you by in the Summer, but you need something that is more adjustable and that can stand up to changing weather.
The type of camping tent you choose will depend a lot on your climate. Here in the south, I look for fast setup, good ventilation and excellent rain resistance.
- Dress In Layers
This type of year is all about being prepared. If you dress in layers, you have the ability to add and subtract clothing as the weather changes. Here in Texas, it is not uncommon for the weather to swing 50 degrees over the course of the day, so you need to be prepared.
If you have kids, this is a crucial tip to follow, because one grumpy kid will ruin the trip for everyone.
- Don’t Forget The Sunscreen & Bug Spray
Just because Fall weather is here does not mean that you can not get a sunburn. You might be surprised at how intense the sun can still be in the Fall months, especially in the Southern US.
Likewise, bugs will still be out, so pack the bugspray.
- Bring Your Own Firewood
Bringing wood to the forest might seem like bringing sand to the beach, but it can save you a lot of headaches. There may not be that much wood around and most campgrounds will likely not allow you to cut down a tree.
Any wood that you do find, is likely to be rotted, water logged or a little punky. Bring your own wood and a good fire starter if fires are allowed. Which reminds me, check on the status of burn bans before you head out.
- Choose Your Campsite Carefully
State parks generally have very good site maps, many of them with pictures. Use this to carefully choose your campsite for the best time. If you expect winds from the North, for example, a treeline on that side might keep you warmer. Think about things like the location of the sunrise and the sunset as well. These little things can make a big difference.
Also, keep in mind that others will be doing this as well. Reserve your campsites early to claim the best ones.
- Take An Extra Tarp
A tarp is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that you can bring. It can be used as a sun shade, to keep a leaking tent dry, to keep water out of your gear and a number of other things. You should have one already for your tent base, but be sure to bring one or two extra ones, just in case.
- Be Careful With Heaters
Few things are more dangerous than a propane heater at a campsite. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real thing and it will sneak up on you if you are not careful. Besides, a propane heater in tents always leads to one thing, a wet tent. If not properly vented, the water released when you burn propane will thoroughly soak you down.
A better option for most situations will be appropriate clothing, suitable sleeping bags and a nice campfire.
- Eat A Snack Before You Sleep
Digestion burns calories and causes your body to heat up. By eating a snack before you go to bed, you will stay warmer through the night. Just be sure NOT to eat in your tent. Eat away from your tent as to not attract critters to you as you sleep, especially if you are in bear country.
- Bring Enough Lighting
It will be getting dark sooner, so be prepared for it. Lanterns, flashlights and even headlamps are important. If your lighting is battery powered, make sure that you have full batteries and bring extras.
- Pack Plenty Of Water
It is easy to let your guard down in the Winter when it comes to water. You might be surprised at just how much water you still use. You will probably still be walking, hiking and even biking in the outdoors so you will be consuming water. In addition, dry Winter conditions can take more water away from your body than you think. It is better to pack in too much than too little.
- Have A Well Stocked First Aid Kit
This is important any time of year, but it is good to emphasize it. You also might consider packing in a few extra items in your kit like a thermal blanket and a good fire starter.
- Tell Others Your Plan
Plan out where you will be camping and hiking during your trip. Also, figure out departure and expected return times. Tell your friends and relatives about your plans so that they know where you can be found and what time you are expected back. If you do not make it back for any reason, this gives rescuers a much easier way to find you. This is important all year long, but especially so in the Winter when a sudden Winter storm could turn deadly quickly.
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