I find being out in the woods a relaxing and necessary part of my life. It’s amazing what a little bit of mother nature can do for you. Clean fresh air, wondrous smells, beautiful sites, and an escape from the chaotic, modern world. Here are six things to think about when going on a camping trip.
1. Pick A Destination
Where do you want to go? Choosing your destination is the first decision you need to make, since all plans will branch out like limbs from a tree trunk after that. Various locations demand a variety of gear requirements. If your plan is to roam out into the desert, you might be more apt to park you car and set up camp – even sleeping in your car. If you are looking to backpack the Pacific Crest Trail, your plan will be more in depth and require help from others. You will be looking for some ultralight gear, food drops, and more. When it comes to backpacking, there are more things you have to think about. You need to consideration the the following: How far you will travel, where to get water, how much food you will need, are there fire restrictions, and how much gear you will need to take.
2. Choose A Date
Once you have your destination in mind, the next question is when. This is another, essential detail which will affect the type of gear you will need to bring with you. Season, climate, weather changes, and popularity are huge factors you will want to think about. Certain popular destinations require passes you have to apply for far in advance. Depending on the location, the wait lists are booked for years down the road! Some places like Zion National Park have lotteries for passes, so there is no guarantee of a pass. That aside there are many places you can go for free. Though you might want to check in advance the fire restrictions if you want to have a fire.
Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho, trail to Lake Imogene
3. Use The Buddy System
Don’t go alone! I say this for many reasons, but the main reason is safety. Having a friend or a group helps prevent injury, getting lost, and deters animal attacks (generally larger animals will stay away from groups of humans). It’s always better to be safe than sorry. You wouldn’t want to need to cut off your own arm with a pocket knife, simply because you were alone. Plus, having friends to take photos and build memories with always a good idea. Pets do not count as a buddy, they may not be able to help in some situations.
4. Make Sure To Have The Right Gear
What should I take on my trip? Make sure to have the proper gear for your trip. If you are backpacking you might want to stick to the bare necessities, in order to decrease weight and to save energy. As opposed to car camping, where you sometimes just want to pack your vehicle until you can barely shut the doors. Also, depending on the previous tips, you might need to update, change, or plan to share gear. There are some core essential items that you need for every trip. If backpacking some can be shared, like a tent or fuel. Others, like footwear and sleeping bags, are more specific to the individual. Each person should make sure they have the essential gear, or are sharing the essentials that can be shared. The same principle applies to car camping. After you have your core gear figured out then you can add any extra items you might need or want.
Photo taken in our Ogden store.
If you have questions or need some new gear, head to your local gear shop and talk to they guys who are experts in using all that gear. Having spent six years working in a gear shop and seeing the changes and new technologies within the outdoor industry, I can say, shop employees are usually well versed and filled with useful information. Gear shop employees are excellent sources of information because they are always learning tips, tricks, and ideas from customers and from brands making the gear.
Here is a example gear list. The core items are the usual items needed, but everyone has different needs.
|Shelter / Tent
Backpack (if hiking)
Footwear – activity dependent
Camp Stove & Fuel
Water Filtration & Hydration
Lighting – flashlight or headlamp
Knife or Pocket Knife
Clothing – activity & weather dependent
|Matches and Fire Starter
Map (protected from elements)
Gear Repair Kit
Biodegradable Toilet Paper
Phone or Camera
Clothing Options / Ideas
Shirts – light breathable
Pants – Zip-off preferred for warm areas
Base Layer/Long Johns
Socks – wool/blended NO COTTON
Rain gear- top and bottom w/hood
Gloves or Over-mitts
5. Leave No Trace
Some destinations like Sawtooth National Forest require visitors to follow Leave No Trace (LNT) guidelines, and enforce heavy fines if caught breaking them. Though, in my experience most destinations do not require you to follow LNT, but it is always a good idea. The idea of LNT is to help preserve nature, so that others may enjoy it too. We need to take care of what we have, so that we may show this world to future generations. Plus, we all hate picking up trash after other people. Let’s do this right the first time!
The LNT basic guidelines are:
Plan Ahead & Prepare
Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose Of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate Of Other Visitors
Leave No Trace card
6. Expect The Unexpected
You can plan all you want, but the unexpected will always come. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it comes as a disaster. If this happens stay calm and take care of the situation one step at a time. Also, having a camera or cell phone (for pictures) in an easily accessible location is a great idea. You don’t want to miss those shareable moments that you want to remember forever.
My dad forgot his rain jacket, so we improvised.
When it all comes down to, just plan, prepare, relax and enjoy your trip. Don’t do anything stupid and respect what this planet and others on it. Don’t be afraid to get advice and try to follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Having proper gear does make a big difference. ALWAYS double check your gear before leaving the house, or end up like me when I forgot all of my breakfast for a week long trip.
This was my first motorcycle pack trip, and I learned some things the hard way.
See you out there!
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