Gear Up to Get Back Outside
By Heather Madsen
With the weather warming up, there’s a common urge to get back outdoors. If you’re excited to go camping soon, here are a few things to remember to make your spring camping trip a success.
Check Your Gear
First things first: make sure you have all of the right gear and that it’s in good condition. A tent with a rip or boots with holes in them are going to cause some pretty uncomfortable days in the wilderness. Other important items to check could include food coolers, shade canopies, and sleeping bags. No matter what kind of camping you enjoy; backpacking, car, camper, or trailer — always double check your shelter, and any other vital gear, to make sure they’re in proper working condition.
You’ll also want to make sure you pack clothing that is appropriate for the weather forecast. You don’t want to be stuck wearing shorts in the rain, or an insulated jacket in the blazing sun. As was mentioned before, make sure you have proper footwear. Hiking boots are necessary for any trail or wilderness walking, but sandals are great for if you’re going to be around water, or if you need to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s also important to remember that the nights spent outside might be much colder than the days. Bringing a jacket or warm pajamas will help keep you comfortable while you sleep.
Hopefully no one will get hurt while you’re camping, but it’s always good to be prepared. Keep a basic first aid kit handy to help with minor injuries. If you’re bringing your dog or other pets with you, taking a dog first aid kit is also a good idea. Sunscreen and bug spray are also necessary items to bring on most outdoor adventures. You can avoid using your first aid kit, if you think ahead and prevent things like sunburn and bug bites from happening.
If you’re going to be deep in the wilderness, or even if you’re just unfamiliar with the place you’re travelling to, it’s also a good idea to research the local wildlife. Knowing how to react to seeing a wild animal could save your life. Bear spray, whistles, and other similar tools are a great way to be prepared for wild encounters. Remember, always know how to use these items before you venture out into the wild. They won’t do you any good in an emergency, if you don’t already know how to use them.
Speaking of emergencies, it's always better to be over prepared, so never leave on a trip without your safety and survival tools. It’s also a good idea to bring a decent knife, tarp, flashlight, and some way to start a fire. Aside from being useful for a number of regular camping activities, these items will be extremely helpful if you’re caught in an emergency and need to build temporary shelter. Bringing a water filter, or activated charcoal to make your own, is also a good idea to avoid disease in the event you need to use a natural water source.
If you’re new to camping you might not know this, but a lot of campsites require reservations, and it’s illegal to set up camp in certain forests and protected areas of land. Some plants and species are also protected, and disturbing or destroying them could result in fines and/or legal action. Planning ahead can save you a lot of trouble. Make sure you know where you’re going and are aware of any restrictions or regulations they may have, including campsite locations, protection orders, fire restrictions, and waste disposal protocols. The goal when camping is to enjoy nature, but to leave it as you found it. Always clean up after yourself and follow the campsite rules so that others can still enjoy it after you leave.
Being prepared is the key to success in most circumstances, and these basic tips can help make your camping trips the best they can be. So now all that's left to do is to get out there! Grab your gear and your safety equipment and go have some memorable adventures this season.