■ We've all seen it in movies: the exciting adventures of camping in the wilderness. Waking up to the sound of wildlife, with the sun gently shining on your face. As the sun continues to rise, you start cooking your breakfast over a small fire you just built. Sounds blissful, right? For some, it's a definite no-no. For others, it's a must-do whenever on the road.
Going camping can be tremendous fun and having some amount of experience can be a great help if you're traveling (you never know when you might be in a struggle finding somewhere to sleep!). If you're new to the idea of camping, you've probably heard some (likely overexaggerated) horror stories that perhaps have put you off in the past.
However, fear not! We at Wander have you covered. So, without further ado, let's dive right in and get ready to go camping!
1. Be sensible with your money
When it comes to camping, knowing where to spend a little extra cash and where to hold back your funds is key. For example, you do not necessarily need to overspend on a tent with the latest technology and the lightest possible weight. While it is true that there are features you should absolutely try to include in a tent that you buy, it's sometimes not necessary to go over the top.
Waterproofing and a *sufficiently* low weight are two such features. When manufacturers use the terms "waterproof," "water-repellant," or even "water-resistant," they can often be interpreted quite subjectively. Therefore, in order to get an objective view of just how waterproof a tent is, take a look at its "Hydrostatic Head." These are values that come in 1000s of millimeters and represent (in theory) how much water a tent could prevent from coming in (e.g., a 3000mm column of water). In general:
■ a) 1000mm is seen as having the ability to resist light showers
■ b) 2-3000mm will keep out heavier rain being pushed into the tent by wind
■ c) 4000mm+ should keep water out from anything physically trying to push water through the tent (i.e., a person/item leaning on it - pro-tip: don't do it!)
Try to also avoid purchasing tents which are single-skinned (e.g., pop-up tents!). Having only one layer between you and the elements will increase your chances of getting both cold and wet. It is absolutely possible to purchase a double-layered tent with a HH of 2000mm+ without breaking the bank! Just ensure you take the time to read the specifications before purchasing.
And as for the weight of the tent, while it is of course beneficial to have one which is lighter and smaller (for packing reasons), there becomes a point where the additional cost is not worth it. For example, paying an extra 20% in price in order to reduce the tent's weight by ~50 grams will probably not be worth it.
2. Sleeping bags matter
As a child, grandfathers used to tell us about many random proverbs whenever they got the chance. One that we can distinctly remember, was: "Always invest in anything that goes between you and the ground." By this, they meant you should always spend a bit of extra money on things like shoes, chairs and mattresses, as their quality goes a long way for your comfort. We believe that a sleeping bag is no exception to this rule. Spending a little more money on a sleeping bag can be the difference between waking up as snug as a bug in a rug after a great night's sleep and waking up with a terrible cold. Generally speaking, sleeping bags differ by season.
Most good quality sleeping bags will show a range of temperatures that they perform well in, and a greater range which they can deal with at the very extreme, if required to. Check these ranges and compare them with the seasonal forecast of your destination. Remember - a warm daytime temperature does not always necessarily equate to a warm nighttime temperature. Be sure to double check how low the temperature drops throughout the night at your desired destination.
Higher-quality sleeping bags will also be lighter, and more compact. If you're traveling for a longer period of time, this will prove to be a game-changer. Anything that makes your backpack both lighter and smaller is a huge win.
3. Cleanliness is key
Although you might be tempted to think that it doesn't matter if you spill any drink/food because you're outside, think again. Your spillages will attract insects and pests immediately, and before you know it your tent is a temporary ant hill!
Pack a few cleaning wipes so you can clean your tent/belongings if needed. If you spill anything outside of your tent, be sure to wash it away with some clean water as best as you can.
4. Location, location, location!
Before you start unpacking your tent, it's worth spending a bit of time to ensure your pitching area is a good one.
Although it's most people's main concern, finding a flat pitch isn't the only thing you should consider when deciding on where to rest for the night. One tip we were once told was: "Never pitch underneath a tree." It may be tempting to have some overhead cover, but trees will more than likely drop sticky sap onto your tent (especially if it rains). This can make re-packing your tent a nightmare (not to mention the possibility of birds doing their business above you!).
Furthermore, you should always look around the landscape and check that you are not located in the lowest place. If you are, and it rains, you might find water quickly accumulating around you as you sleep!
5. Practice makes perfect
Before you go traveling, you should absolutely set aside some time to practice putting up your tent and packing it back away. It can be more difficult than you think, and so you want to make sure you know how to do it in case you're caught in a pinch for time whilst traveling.
Pro-tip: take pictures of the tent as it comes out of the bag, so you have something to refer to when packing it back away! The more you practice, the faster you will become at it, and the more time you can spend relaxing in your tent after a busy day of adventure.
Abide by these, and we can assure you that your first camping trip will be a memorable one for all of the right reasons. You can even use Wander to find other people who wish to travel to the same camping destinations as yourself. Connect with them, and who knows - you might soon find yourself sleeping in a ten-man tent with a group of your new best friends!
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