Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, I have an abundance of campsites available for short weekend getaways. I try to get in at least a few camping trips in a year to take advantage of this. As I’ve been camping for awhile now, I wanted to share some tried-and-true tips that have helped me in case you are thinking of going camping this summer.
Pack in, pack out.
Make sure the campground looks like no one was there by the time you leave. It’s a privilege that we’re able to camp in such scenic settings, and we want to keep it that way. Find the designated trash and recycle bins if available, and make sure everything is disposed of properly. The ranger and the next campers will thank you.
Test out all gear while you’re still home.
Getting new equipment for camping is exciting, but making it all the way to your destination to find out something malfunctions is not. Set up your tent in your living room or test out the new pump for your air mattress. This way you’ll be able to run to the store if needed instead of being surprised when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Keep food away from your tent.
While not every campground has wild animals around it, you need to be aware if they do. When camping in a forest, you’re in the animal’s home, and they would love to come over to see what tasty food you have. Keep the food and picnic table as far away from your tent as possible, and put food in coolers or the car at night. The less food that’s out at night, the less chance you’ll have of attracting unwanted visitors. I once left my s’mores supplies and multiple bags of chips out, and woke up in the middle of the night to hear a few raccoons had found a midnight snack. While not necessarily dangerous animals, we did not have any snacks left for the next night unfortunately.
Organize supplies in medium and large containers.
I am able to pack for my camping trips within 15 minutes, and it’s because everything is already organized. I have all my utensils organized in a medium Tupperware container. This saves time looking through the whole bin for that one spatula you need to make eggs with in the morning. I have several medium-sized Tupperware containers with various items organized in that I throw in a large plastic bin, which can easily be thrown in the back of my car.
Bring your own toilet paper.
Not much to say on this one. You never know if a campground has run out of it for the weekend, and you don’t want to be stuck in that situation.
Check the weather before you go.
I go east of the mountains every June to go camping, but I never assume the weather will always be sunny and warm. While it’s nice when you can just bring shorts, tank tops, and a bathing suit, you don’t want to be stuck freezing all weekend. It’s always good to bring a warm sweatshirt for when the sun goes down and a waterproof rain jacket on the occasion there’s a downpour.
Bring tarps and rain covers for your picnic table and tent.
On the same note, you want to make sure your tent and food area are covered in case it rains. There’s nothing worse than soaked food and freezing in your tent wet all night. One year, a thunder and lightning storm came out of seemingly nowhere. Luckily, we had our tents already ready and were able to move the food and supplies quickly under the tarp covering the picnic table. We had to wait out the storm for about an hour, and then were able to go back, with nothing that had gotten wet.
Bring earplugs and a sleeping mask.
You never know how loud your fellow camp mates will be around you. While there is typically a curfew, it’s not always enforced, as the rangers are usually gone by then. A sleeping mask is helpful because it gets very bright very early when you’re camping outdoors, and this allows you to get a few more hours of sleep.
Don’t forget supplies for your dogs.
In the Northwest, bringing dogs camping is very common. It’s important to make sure you bring their food in a Tupperware container and a bowl for them to have fresh water all weekend. They have collapsible dog bowls you can buy in pet stores or online which take up no room.
I hope these tips help you have a successful camping trip this summer!
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