Finding and setting up the perfect camp is central to any adventure.
We’ve collected the “dos and don’ts” for three of our favorite camping experiences.
The Developed Campground
Sometimes you need a quick fix of nature and a campfire. What’s easier than rolling up in your car to live out of the back for a night or two? For a finding-your-sanity adventure or to introduce camping to a new love or young kids, a developed campground is a great place to start.
Do: Find the quietest space. This will likely require multiple laps around the campground to identify – much to the chagrin and ridicule of your new love and/or children. They’ll thank you in the morning.
Don’t: Park next to the bathroom. Enough said.
Do: Go traditional. Bring your own firewood. Pack s’mores, a dutch oven, board games and any other luxuries you wouldn’t carry for more of a wilderness-style trip. Live it up.
Don’t: Forgo a tent. You may be tempted to crash in the car, but don’t cave in. There’s just something about a tent that pulls the full experience together.
The Wilderness/Backcountry Campsite
By definition, you’re backpacking in and nature provides the amenities.
Do: Orient your site toward the morning sunrise. Regardless of how excited you are to wake up and take in the spectacular views, it’s much easier to get out of your bag when the morning sun hits you with its warmth.
Don’t: Camp too near the trail. Few things are more disconcerting than the sounds of other people when your goal is to surround yourself with wilderness.
Do: Bring a pen and paper. No, you don’t need to journal your deep thoughts – unless you’re so moved. It seems like every trip generates a new idea of what to pack next time. Jot those brainstorms down!
Don’t: Rely on the weather report. Even if NOAA calls for balmy days and crystal clear nights, never be tempted to forgo your rain jacket and a few insulating layers. At least in the mountains, the only thing reliable about the weather is that it will change. And, oh yeah, make sure your gear is prepped and proofed before you hit the trail.
The High Alpine Basecamp
Of course you’re always careful to respect your safety and the health of the environment, but high altitude camping takes it to a new level (pun intended). The fragility of both your basic needs and the high alpine ecosystems are paramount.
Do: Bring down camp booties and extra batteries. Booties are lightweight, low volume, saviors of toes and keepers of happiness. Altitude is torture on batteries, so be sure to keep some extras on-hand (and warm) for headlamps and cameras.
Don’t: Underestimate the wind. Select a tent that can handle high, sustained gusts and some snow load.
Do: Bring lightweight entertainment, like cards, dice and a good sense of humor. Most likely you’re making a summit attempt and Mother Nature may or may not accommodate your desire. Be prepared for downtime.
Don’t: Confuse arrogance with confidence. Camping at high altitude is a learned skill. Teamwork is crucial and preparation is a requisite. Watching the sun rise and set over the curve of the earth is something that few on the planet will ever experience – enjoy.
Regardless of how you prefer your adventure, be prepared and leave only footprints.