Camping in the great outdoors can be great fun, but if you are new to it, there are a number of things you really should know before you head out. Here are 10 things nobody told you about camping:
- You Should Test Your Equipment Before You Go
You may have the temptation to throw all your gear in the car and just ride into the outdoors for your first camping trip, but resist this temptation. Instead, make sure that nothing is broken, and that no small parts have magically gone missing. Also, if you have never pitched a tent before (or the brand of tent you are bringing), it just might be a good idea to trying pitching it at home first, so that you know you can do it.
- Tents Tend To Be Not as Large as Advertised
When buying a tent be wary of when manufacturers tell you that their tent fits X number of people, as they tend to overestimate. While there is nothing wrong with buying a tent online, before you do you should try to find a pitched one in a sporting goods store, so you will know just how much space there is in it. Or read reviews very carefully. Keep an eye out for tents that have hundreds of reviews. It will help you get the most accurate picture of what you are purchasing.
- Sleeping Bags Tend To Be Not as Warm as Advertised
When shopping for sleeping bags, you will see that they generally come with temperature ratings, which supposedly let you know what is the coldest temperature in which you can comfortably use the bag. But you should really think of this number as the coldest temperature in which you will not freeze to death while using the bag. So, look for a bag that has a rating of at least 10 degrees colder than the temperature you expect. 20 degrees colder is even better.
- Do Not Pitch Your Tent in the Heat of the Afternoon or in the Middle of the Night
Pitching a tent can be a difficult task whenever you do it, but it can become a much harder (if not impossible) task if you try to do it in the heat of the day or when it is dark out. This means that you should make camp sometime after midday but well before dark. This way you can also find a nice flat and dry spot without widow-makers (tree branches or tree trunks that could fall on you). Further look for an area that does not seem prone to flooding.
- Do Not Depend on Campfires for Food
Part of the romance of camping is cooking in front of a fire. But in some places you may not be allowed to start a fire and maintain even a small campfire. So, it does not hurt to bring a small portable gas stove (with full gas canisters.) You should also bring plenty of ready-to-eat food as well.
- Do Not Light a Fire Inside Your Tent
When it gets cold out, you may be tempted to light a fire inside your tent. Avoid this temptation, as it can be fatal. Fires not only can create lots of condensation inside the tent, but they also produce carbon monoxide, which is lethal. Seriously, do not start a fire in your tent under any circumstances.
- You Should Bring Lots of Light
Unsurprisingly, it can get dark outside, even with the stars and the moon. Without lights, your nighttime options can be limited to sleeping. Flashlights and lanterns are good, but head lamps (lights that you strap around your forehead), are a really good idea. Whatever you choose, make sure that you put fresh batteries in them before you go.
- You Have to Bring Your Own Entertainment
Not only can nights get boring if you have nothing to do, but there is also the possibility that bad weather can keep you stuck in your tent for long periods of time. So, bring whatever type of entertainment you enjoy, whether it be books, a deck of cards or even a musical instrument.
- You Should Keep Your Shoes Outside the Tent
The very last thing you want to do is bring dirt or sand into your tent or even worse into your sleeping bag. It can make sleeping uncomfortable, to say the least. Instead, keep footwear outside the tent. Though make sure that it is protected from the weather, preferably with a roomy tent vestibule.
- There Are Animals Outside
Yes, most animals live outside. And yes, you are likely to encounter some type of animal while you are camping. Do not be alarmed if you see one scurrying by or if you hear something at night. Even if they make scary sounds, they are probably a lot more scared of you than you are of them.