Couple Camping with Dog

Couple Camping with Dog

Think­ing of bring­ing Fido along on your next camp­ing adven­ture? We asked three experts to share their Do’s and Don’ts to make the expe­ri­ence an amaz­ing one for both you and your fur­ry companion.

Don’t Let Your Pup Go Crazy 

When it comes to camp­ing eti­quette, per­haps the most impor­tant thing to keep in mind is keep­ing things clean. “You have to be scrupu­lous with clean up and mak­ing sure your dog does not ‘lift a leg’ on any­one’s tents, fur­ni­ture, or cool­ers,” says Sal­ly Mor­gan, a holis­tic phys­i­cal ther­a­pist for pets and peo­ple, and author of ‘Dances of the Heart: Con­nect­ing with Animals.”

At a min­i­mum, polite camp­ing gen­er­al­ly would mean keep­ing your dog on a leash, even though she is friend­ly and trust­wor­thy, Mor­gan adds. “No one appre­ci­ates a wan­der­ing dog steal­ing their tod­dler’s hot­dog after all,” says Morgan.

Bark­ing is anoth­er no-no and very dis­rup­tive to fel­low campers. “Even if you camp with an RV, three bark­ing chi­huahuas can still be loud enough to dis­turb neigh­bors when you go out,” says Morgan.

Do Check the Rules in Advance 

Be aware of the rulesNot all camp­grounds are dog-friend­ly and even those that are might have spe­cif­ic rules in place for canine vis­i­tors, so it pays to make a call or check their web­site. “Always let any camp­ground know ahead of time if you plan to bring a dog so that they can relay rules to you so there are no sur­pris­es when you arrive,” says Mor­gan. “Some camp­grounds have dog-friend­ly areas away from the gen­er­al camp­ing spaces, and some even have a fenced in dog play area; these camp­grounds may be more appeal­ing options for those trav­el­ing with dogs.”

In addi­tion, cer­ti­fied dog behav­ior con­sul­tant Kay­la Fratt points out that her biggest thing is always to check for rules about leash­es, waste, and behav­ior. “Even if your camp­ground allows off-leash dogs (gen­er­al­ly in back­coun­try areas in nation­al forests or BLM land), you’ll want to know your own dog and the area,” Fratt. “While I trust my dog off-leash in almost every sit­u­a­tion, I kept him very close while camp­ing in Mon­tana this week because he’s still no match for a bear!”

Don’t Let Your Dog Chase Wildlife

Don't Let them Chase WildlifeWhile most wildlife stays away from camp­grounds and noisy campers, there’s always the chance you might run into an ani­mal who won’t be too hap­py to see your dog. “The types of wildlife can vary by region and own­ers should be aware of this before trav­el­ing into the area, espe­cial­ly preda­tors like bears, moun­tain lions, and wolves but also ven­omous snakes and insects,” says Dr. Lucas White, DVM from Sun­set Vet­eri­nary Clin­ic.

Do Your Best to Be Prepared

When it comes to get­ting ready for a trip, Fratt points out that it’s the lit­tle things that make a huge dif­fer­ence. “I slept with my dog in the tent in our back­yard sev­er­al times before tak­ing him camp­ing; that way I knew he’d be qui­et and sleep well in the tent,” Fratt says. “It’s hard to do a train­ing ses­sion with your pup out in the wilder­ness, so be pre­pared ahead of time with train­ing, treats, and equipment.”

It also pays off to plan some spe­cial dog time when camp­ing, espe­cial­ly if you have a hyper dog or one who’s eas­i­ly spooked by nois­es or strangers. “Some longer hikes, swim­ming, or off-leash play with oth­er dogs can help tire her out so she will be hap­pi­er if left alone and sleep more sound­ly at night to min­i­mize bark­ing,” Mor­gan says. “And basic train­ing for good man­ners should not be neglect­ed before you take your dog camp­ing; your dog should have the basics such as sit, down, come, and stay at a minimum.”

Don’t For­get to Bring a Com­fy Bed

Dog in Comfy Bed

Padded trav­el bed­ding is always a good thing, espe­cial­ly for old­er dogs, who might find the ground a lit­tle too hard for com­fort.If pos­si­ble, you can bring your dog’s reg­u­lar bed or a blan­ket to keep them com­fort­able while sleep­ing,” White adds. “This will also help insu­late them from the ground in regions that get cold­er at night.”

If you are going to be in an area with rough ter­rain that includes sharp rocks or thorns, hot sur­faces, or if your pet is not used to walking/hiking long dis­tances. White also rec­om­mends hav­ing some dog­gie booties to pre­vent foot/pad injuries. “Begin train­ing your pet sev­er­al weeks pri­or to your trip to get them accus­tomed to wear­ing them and to help build their endurance,” White adds.

Do Bring Your Own Food and Water

Bring food and water for your Dog

The last thing you want dur­ing a camp­ing trip is a pup with diges­tive trou­ble – and the best thing to pre­vent this is to make sure you bring both bot­tled water and your dog’s reg­u­lar food from home. “As with peo­ple, dogs can become infect­ed with gia­r­dia from lakes and rivers so bring­ing bot­tled water or a fil­ter is a good idea,” White says. “Also of con­cern is a bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion called lep­tospiro­sis that is spread by wild ani­mals in their urine and can con­t­a­m­i­nate out­door water sources.”

In the end, remem­ber: camp­ing with a canine com­pan­ion can be lots of fun if you’re pre­pared and ready for adventure.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

There are nat­ur­al havens all over North Amer­i­ca, many of which are con­cen­trat­ed along the Pacif­ic Coast. Sum­mer is here, and these six Pacif­ic camp­grounds are not to be missed!

Leo Car­ril­lo State Beach

pacific campground beach

Tide pools, sea caves, coves, dog-friend­ly, surf, sun, and shad­ed camp­sites that are tucked away in a calm cor­ner on the cusp of the buzz of Los Ange­les. Giv­en the acces­si­bil­i­ty, this spot begs to be men­tioned in a list of pacif­ic campgrounds.

Pis­mo State Beach

Pismo Beach campground

It’s like Lord of the Flies here (with­out the vio­lence). Most Cal­i­forn­ian beach­es are lit­tered with rules: no camp­ing, no fires, no dogs, no dri­ving on the beach… Not so, here. It’s true that hol­i­days and long week­ends can get crowd­ed here, but for most of the year, you’re total­ly safe to dri­ve up and find a spot.

Julia Pfeif­fer Burns State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

How often do you see an actu­al water­fall land on the sand? Exact­ly one time, that’s how often, and it’s here. While you can’t access the beach, you can enjoy this mag­i­cal view from var­i­ous look­outs along an easy and short hike.

Cape Per­pet­ua

Oregon pacific campground

If you can’t decide between camp­ing in the for­est or on the ocean, stop try­ing! This is your place. Enjoy the shel­ter from the wind and peace afford­ed to you by giant cedars in this pic­ture-per­fect camp­ground and enjoy a five-minute walk to the ocean, toes-in-sand!

Olympic Nation­al Park

Second Beach - Pacific campground

Anoth­er fan­tas­tic spot where you’ll find mul­ti­ple great camp­grounds, where you can enjoy the for­est and the ocean in the same space! Here, how­ev­er, you can also enjoy watch­ing whales as they migrate past you (sea­son-depen­dent), hike to water­falls, and enjoy a soak in a hot spring.

Porteau, British Colum­bia, Canada

Porteau Cove Provincial Park campground

A fairy­tale cove in a sleepy town amongst a sur­re­al moun­tain-scape. Some of the most beau­ti­ful sun­sets in the world are viewed here. Also, when the con­di­tions are right you can observe the north­ern lights here.

If there’s any­thing that defines the Pacif­ic North­west, it’s that we camp. And there are plen­ty of places to camp that gives you scenery and soli­tude. But these are the best, the all-time most scenic spots, the most sub­lime. They require effort. And they’re worth it.

Coleman GlacierCole­man Glac­i­er Ter­mi­nus, Mount Baker

The Cole­man Glac­i­er descends the west side of Washington’s north­ern­most ice-cov­ered stra­to­vol­cano. It’s usu­al­ly the last camp climbers use before climb­ing Mount Bak­er via the Cole­man-Dem­ing route. But it’s a great des­ti­na­tion in its own right, with views of crevasse fields, the sum­mit of Bak­er, and Col­fax Peak. In sea­son, look for alpine wildflowers.
Vista Tips: Wake up ear­ly to see the lights of Belling­ham flick­er out as the sun ris­es over Mount Baker.
Hard­ship Fac­tor: You’ll be haul­ing a pack up a steep climbers trail to the base of the glac­i­er. Sum­mit­ing is anoth­er com­mit­ment entire­ly. While Bak­er isn’t as tall as Mounts Adams or Rainier, the ice extends low­er, so more time is spent on glac­i­er trav­el with sig­nif­i­cant ice­falls and crevasses.
Near­est Town: Belling­ham, WA

unnamed glacial tarnUnnamed Glacial Tarn, Cham­bers Lakes

The trail ends at Camp Lake on the east side of Mid­dle Sis­ter. From there, keep on truckin’: go up a ridge toward the moun­tains. Then it’s off-trail nav­i­ga­tion to get to any num­ber of small tarns amidst snow­fields and mini-glac­i­ers. Look for one with a glac­i­er calv­ing into it, and set­tle in for an Alaskan-style camp­ing expe­ri­ence. From there, you can explore one of Oregon’s pre­mier land­scapes, or even climb Mid­dle Sister.
Vista Tips: Set up your tent with a view of the glac­i­er and the lake…but use the guy­lines. Winds tend to plow over the glac­i­er across the lake right at you. It’s worth it.
Hard­ship Fac­tor: Car­ry­ing a pack (and an ice axe) off trail through talus and scree.
Near­est Town: Sis­ters, OR

illumination saddleIllu­mi­na­tion Sad­dle, Mount Hood

Illu­mi­na­tion Rock is perched to the west side of Mount Hood’s Zigzag Glac­i­er, sec­ond in dra­ma only to the sum­mit itself. Not many moun­taineers camp in the sad­dle, which offers high alpine views down the Sandy Riv­er basin, south to Mount Jef­fer­son and the Three Sis­ters, and close-ups of Hood’s sum­mit. And the rock itself is pret­ty darn scenic.
Vista Tips: Pret­ty hard to get wrong
Hard­ship Fac­tor: You can dri­ve to Tim­ber­line Lodge, but there’s still a ton of high-alti­tude snow and glac­i­er trav­el involved. Beware loose rock.
Near­est Town: Gov­ern­ment Camp, OR

Giant’s GraveyardGiant’s Grave­yard, Olympic Coast

Camp on the wilder­ness beach with a gor­geous view of mas­sive sea stacks and off­shore rocks that resem­ble the bones of some huge being. With luck, you’ll also have whales, bald eagles, and otters to watch. Explore the tide­pools at low tide.
Vista Tips: Face west, and make sure your tent is above the high tide line.
Hard­ship Fac­tor: Back­pack­ing down the beach may seem eas­i­er than the moun­tains, but you’ll also be climb­ing over head­lands using rope ladders.
Near­est Town: Forks, WA

zigzagEast Zigzag Moun­tain, Mount Hood

Perch your tent on the tiny flat spot atop a small peak that pokes about above tree­line on Mount Hoods’ South­west cor­ner. Get views of up to four vol­ca­noes: Hood, Adams, St. Helens and Rainier, as well as the Sandy Basin and Burnt Lake. The hike is close to Port­land, but a long rough dirt road to the trail­head keeps the crowds low.
Vista Tips: Face your tent north­west for views of the Wash­ing­ton Cas­cades at sun­rise. Wan­der up the near­by rock slope to watch the sunset.
Hard­ship Fac­tor: Mod­er­ate: a bit of a climb, with some poten­tial for bugs. If you want to burn more calo­ries, include West Zigzag Moun­tain near­by. Melt snow or make a detour to Cast Lake for water: there’s none at the summit.
Near­est Town: Zigzag, OR

catalaCata­la Island, British Columbia

A rugged island on the edge of the Pacif­ic off the west coast of Van­cou­ver Island, Cata­la Island is one of the pre­mier view camp­sites on an island full of pre­mier views. Watch fog burn off in the morn­ing. Sun­sets are mind-bend­ing with the array of off­shore rocks and the wild Pacif­ic kick­ing up waves. With luck, you’ll also have sea otters, por­pois­es, wolves and deer to scan with your binoc­u­lars. The near­by sea kayaking—which is the only way to get there—is fantastic.
Vista Tips: Plan your trip for a full moon for an incred­i­ble night vista
Hard­ship Fac­tor: At least half a day for skill sea kayak­ers to get there in calm con­di­tions. To explore the near­by sea stacks takes anoth­er lev­el of skill and commitment.
Near­est Town: Zebal­los, BC.

tent clean

tent cleanYou’re plan­ning your next hik­ing trip, and you are already excit­ed by the thought of get­ting away from the rat race. You can’t wait to explore a beau­ti­ful, scenic location—but as you start to pre­pare your gear, you realise that your tent is look­ing pret­ty grubby.

After a few trips your tent will soon be cov­ered with dirt and debris. Some peo­ple also notice that their tent is slight­ly mouldy, espe­cial­ly if they don’t unpack it prop­er­ly when they get home. This can make the tent smell musty, which will be pret­ty unpleas­ant for any­one who has to sleep in it.

Thank­ful­ly it is fair­ly easy to give your tent a good clean. Here are some use­ful tips to help you clean your tent.

Brush Your Tent Out Before Pack­ing It Up

If you want to make sure that your tent is super easy to wash in the future, make sure that you give the tent a good brush down before pack­ing it up. Spend some time remov­ing any dirt and leaves from the out­side of the tent, and then move around the inte­ri­or pick­ing up any dirt, food, trash or rocks that have been car­ried in. This will make it eas­i­er to clean the tent lat­er, and it also means that you are less like­ly to acci­den­tal­ly rip your tent as you pack it up.

Go through the stor­age pock­ets and remove any­thing that you find.

Before you start knock­ing down the tent, take a few moments to brush out the inte­ri­or to remove any dirt, mud, rocks, bugs, food or trash that may have been car­ried in. Also make sure than any stor­age pock­ets are empty.

How To Clean Your Tent

Wipe down all of the poles and zip­pers with some soapy water.

Do a basic clean on the whole tent. Use a soft sponge with cold, soapy water. Avoid using deter­gent as the can dam­age the tent; instead use some­thing like hand soap as this is less harsh. How­ev­er you should invest in a non-scent­ed soap, as a scent­ed one may attract insects and bugs to your tent on your next camp­ing trip.

Wipe the whole tent down, tak­ing care around the seams.

Take some time to care­ful­ly clean away and mould or mildew, as this can grow and get big­ger if you leave it. You should use an enzyme clean­er to kill the mould, but apply the solu­tion care­ful­ly as if you scrub too hard it could dam­age the tent.

You may also need to remove sticky tree sap from your tent. While pine sap won’t dam­age your tent too much, it does look messy and it feels sticky to the touch. You can use min­er­al oil to effec­tive­ly remove pine sap.

Pre­cau­tions and Suggestions

When the tent is dry you may want to con­sid­er using a spray-on fab­ric treat­ment, as this will help to pro­tect your tent so that it lasts for longer.

Don’t machine wash your tent, as it is very like­ly that the con­stant spin­ning will stretch or tear your tent, espe­cial­ly if it has mesh sec­tions. The hot water can also dam­age the syn­thet­ic materials.

Make sure that your tent doesn’t spend too much sub­merged in water, as this can break down the water­proof coating.

Next time you are camp­ing and you notice dirt on your tent, take the time to wipe it off then and there with a damp cloth. This will make it much eas­i­er to clean the tent lat­er on!

cleaning sleeping bag

cleaning sleeping bagIf you do long hikes reg­u­lar­ly it is very like­ly that your sleep­ing bag is ready for a good cleaning.

Most sleep­ing bags come with some wash­ing instruc­tions, but these are often brief and it can be con­fus­ing. If you want to make sure that your sleep­ing bag is thor­ough­ly cleaned for future hik­ing trips, here are a few tips to help you clean a sleep­ing bag.

How To Hand Wash Your Sleep­ing Bag

Some sleep­ing bags need to be hand washed as they are made from syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als that can be ruined if they are washed in a machine. Your sleep­ing bag will have a tag that says if it should be hand washed or machine washed.

If your sleep­ing bag needs to be hand washed, start by fill­ing a bath half full with cold water. When the bath is half full, add half a cup of mild fab­ric wash. Stir the soap into the water until you can see that it is ful­ly dissolved.

Now you can place your zipped up sleep­ing bag in the bath. Try to lay the sleep­ing bag down flat across the bot­tom of the bath, and then step into the bath and walk up and down the sleep­ing bag until every part is ful­ly cov­ered with soapy water. The walk­ing will also help to work with the soap through the sleep­ing bag, ensur­ing that it is prop­er­ly clean.

Leave the sleep­ing bag in the water for at least half an hour, and then drain the water and replace it with clean cold water. You may need to do this a few times to ful­ly remove all of the soapy water.

When the sleep­ing bag is clean, drain the water and roll the sleep­ing bag up tight­ly in the bath to drain away the excess water. Make sure that you don’t squeeze the sleep­ing bag though, as this can make the stuff­ing lumpy!

How To Machine Wash Your Sleep­ing Bag

Some sleep­ing bags need to be machine washed. If your sleep­ing bag needs to be machine washed, set the wash­ing machine to a del­i­cate wash with cold water, and then put your sleep­ing bag into the wash­ing machine. Your wash­ing machine may be too small; if this hap­pens you will need to take your sleep­ing bag to a laun­dro­mat with a big­ger wash­ing machine.

When you put your sleep­ing bag in the wash­ing machine, make sure that the bag is unzipped with the zip left halfway up. It can also be use­ful to put some ten­nis balls in the wash­ing machine, as they will move around dur­ing the wash and pre­vent the stuff­ing from becom­ing lumpy.

You should also avoid adding fab­ric soft­en­er as this can ruin the sleep­ing bag.

When the wash is fin­ished, start a sec­ond rinse cycle to make sure that all the soapy water is gone. When you are sure that the sleep­ing bag is clean, remove it from the wash­ing machine and roll it up to remove water. If you are at home you can do this in the bath, and if you are at a laun­dro­mat do it next to a drain.w

How To Dry Your Sleep­ing Bag

Dry­ing a sleep­ing bag can be a dif­fi­cult task as they tend to suck up a lot of water. If you are at home you can hang the unzipped sleep­ing bag out­side on a wash­ing line, but make sure that the weath­er is good as it will take the sleep­ing bag a long time to dry—it could even take up to two days.

You can also wash your sleep­ing bag in a tum­ble dry­er, but make sure that the tum­ble dry­er is on a low heat as a high heat could melt the syn­thet­ic fab­rics. Make sure to mon­i­tor it, and throw a few ten­nis balls in there too!

Before you buy your back­pack­ing equip­ment, check out these pop­u­lar myths to make sure you only buy the things that you real­ly need.

hiker with backpacking equipment

When it comes to hik­ing, there are lots of rules that every­one should fol­low. For exam­ple, hik­ers know that they need to bring water and a back­pack with them when they hike. And they know that they should always plan their route before set­ting off.

How­ev­er, there are lots of myths about back­pack­ing equip­ment that hik­ers believe. These myths may seem harm­less, but they can end up cost­ing you lots of mon­ey. Some will even put you in danger.

Myth 1. You Don’t Need a Map If You Have a Smartphone/GPS
Many peo­ple don’t use a map as they have GPS on their phone. This can be a risky move. Hik­ers should always car­ry a map of the area they are hik­ing and it can also be use­ful to bring a com­pass. Because tech­nol­o­gy devices can run out of charge, you can’t rely on them when hik­ing for a few days at a time.

It goes with­out say­ing, but mobile phones and GPS also nor­mal­ly require the Inter­net to work, which will quick­ly drain your bat­tery. If you don’t want to be strand­ed in the back­coun­try, it’s best to pack a map as well as your GPS.

Myth 2. You Need a Four-Sea­son Tent If You Are Camp­ing in Winter
Four-sea­son tents are designed for all types of weath­er, but most three-sea­son tents work just as well dur­ing win­ter. This is because they are still designed for cold weath­er and light snow. If you are camp­ing in an area with very heavy snow you may need to buy a four-sea­son tent. But if the snow is light, a three-sea­son tent should do the job perfectly—just make sure that you have a sleep­ing bag that is designed for cold weather.

Myth 3. You Need Hik­ing Boots
If you are new to hik­ing, it is like­ly that some­one has already told you that you need to buy hik­ing boots. This is actu­al­ly untrue; lots of long-dis­tance hik­ers don’t wear hik­ing boots any­more! This is because hik­ing boots are quite heavy and big so they can be unpleas­ant to wear in hot weath­er. They also take a long time to dry when they get wet.

This is why lots of hik­ers choose to hike in run­ning shoes instead. Run­ning shoes are light­weight and they dry quick­ly, so they are ide­al for any­one who is hik­ing in a warm climate—but if you live in a cold, snowy area, hik­ing boots will be more appropriate.

Myth 4. A Two-Per­son Tent Is for Two Peo­ple (and Their Gear)
Two-per­son tents are designed for two peo­ple, so it is nor­mal to assume that they can com­fort­ably fit two peo­ple. How­ev­er, most of them are far too small for two peo­ple and all their hik­ing gear. Hik­ers tend to have a lot of hik­ing gear with them. Since there is very lit­tle floor room inside, all of the indoor space is ded­i­cat­ed to sleeping.

So if you want to make sure that you buy a tent with room for two peo­ple and their hik­ing gear, invest in a three-per­son tent or start pack­ing light­ly.

Myth 5. You Need to Wear Head-to-Toe Pro­fes­sion­al Hik­ing Wear
Last but cer­tain­ly not the least impor­tant les­son. Some peo­ple like to believe they need to wear pro­fes­sion­al ath­let­ic cloth­ing, but this is rarely the case. Most hik­ers buy a good water­proof jack­et, hik­ing shoes, and a hik­ing back­pack, and then they just wear clothes they already have. This is much cheap­er than buy­ing new clothes you don’t need.

camping beach

camping beachIt’s an Insta­gram-wor­thy scene: your camp­site with a back­drop of lap­ping waves, tide pools, sun­sets. Beach camp­ing can be par­a­disi­a­cal with a bit of prep and fore­thought. Max­i­mize your fun with these tips to stay com­fort­able and dry.

Watch the Water and Weather
When set­ting up an ocean­side camp, look for the high-tide mark—on most beach­es, it’s iden­ti­fi­able as a lay­er of drift­wood, sea­weed, and oth­er sea refuse left by the reced­ing tide. You’ll want to pitch your tent, build your camp­fire, and keep all belong­ings ten or more feet inland from the high-tide point.

Keep an eye on the weath­er: high winds can mean errant waves, so if there are gusts in the fore­cast, be extra cau­tious with your camp­site selec­tion. It’s worth keep­ing a tide table handy. You can usu­al­ly find them in boat­ing stores or surf shops and print­ed in the local newspaper—or try an app like TideTrac.

Pro­tect Your­self From the Sun
Water reflects solar radi­a­tion, poten­tial­ly hit­ting you with near­ly dou­ble the expo­sure. If you’re car camp­ing, con­sid­er pack­ing an umbrel­la or sun shade. If you’re back­pack­ing, you’ll have to rely on a wide-brimmed hat, skin-cov­er­ing cloth­ing, and high-SPF sunscreen.

Respect the Dunes
While fun to explore, sand dunes are com­prised of vul­ner­a­ble veg­e­ta­tion. When in doubt whether play­ing on dunes might be detri­men­tal, check with local rangers before explor­ing, espe­cial­ly if you’re unsure whether the area is heav­i­ly trav­eled or pro­tect­ed. And it nev­er hurts to brush up on Leave No Trace principles.

Keep Sand Out
Sea­soned beach­go­ers will tell you pre­vent­ing sand from get­ting in is eas­i­er than try­ing to get it out. Brush off feet, legs, and any oth­er sandy body parts before get­ting in a tent or chang­ing clothes. If you’re trav­el­ing with kids, con­sid­er a two-buck­et sys­tem out­side the car or tent: fill both with water, then rinse feet in both. Then wipe feet with a tow­el and step direct­ly into the tent. And, as a final line of defense, bring a dust­pan and brush for sweep­ing inside the tent.

Want to be respon­si­ble and act sus­tain­ably in the back­coun­try, but don’t know where to start? Look no fur­ther. Leave No Trace (LNT) is a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides pro­tec­tion for the out­doors “by teach­ing and inspir­ing peo­ple to enjoy it responsibly.”

Over the years they’ve iden­ti­fied these sev­en prin­ci­ples to help thought­ful adven­tur­ers keep wild places pristine.

Prin­ci­ple 1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Exe­cut­ing a suc­cess­ful back­coun­try mis­sion starts long before you hit the trail­head. Do your home­work before you leave: know the reg­u­la­tions and any par­tic­u­lar envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns for the areas you’ll be vis­it­ing. Check the fore­cast to avoid get­ting caught in extreme weath­er. Repack­age food to min­i­mize waste. And when­ev­er pos­si­ble, sched­ule your trip to avoid the area’s times of high­est use.

Prin­ci­ple 2. Trav­el & Camp on Durable Surfaces
While it can be tempt­ing to romp across a ver­dant mead­ow Sound of Music-style, you may well be tram­pling del­i­cate veg­e­ta­tion. By trav­el­ing and camp­ing on durable sur­faces (which include estab­lished hik­ing trails and camp­sites, rocks, grav­el, dry grass­es, and snow), you’ll min­i­mize your group’s impacts on the local ecosys­tem. Pro­tect ripar­i­an zones by camp­ing at least 200 feet from lakes and streams, and keep camp­sites small. Ask your­self: if every vis­i­tor to this place camped here, what would it look like in five years?

Prin­ci­ple 3. Dis­pose of Waste Properly
Pack it in, pack it out. This applies to trash (plas­tic, wrap­pers, food pack­ag­ing) and food waste (left­over edi­bles, sun­flower seed shells, apple cores, etc.)—but it also applies to human waste. Poo pro­to­col varies depend­ing on what kind of ter­rain you’re trav­el­ing through and the area’s fed­er­al des­ig­na­tion, so check with local autho­rizes for guidance.

Prin­ci­ple 4. Leave What You Find
If you love it, leave it wild. Resist the urge to steal that sum­mit rock or inter­est­ing ani­mal bone. Avoid intro­duc­ing or trans­port­ing non-native species, and be par­tic­u­lar­ly care­ful around cul­tur­al or his­toric struc­tures and arti­facts. Enjoy the sights, take lots of pho­tos, and drink it all in—just don’t take it home.

Prin­ci­ple 5. Min­i­mize Camp­fire Impacts
Camp­fires can have last­ing impacts in the back­coun­try, so only burn where fires are per­mit­ted. For cook­ing, use your camp stove instead of fire or cold-soak your meals. When­ev­er pos­si­ble, use estab­lished fire rings. Keep fires small, and have enough water on hand to put out an unex­pect­ed spark. And last­ly, nev­er leave a fire unat­tend­ed. Rather, if you’re leav­ing your camp­site or going to sleep, always be sure to thor­ough­ly extin­guish your fire.

Prin­ci­ple 6. Respect Wildlife
Catch­ing glimpses of wildlife can be one of the most thrilling parts of a back­coun­try experience—but it’s impor­tant not to feed, fol­low, or approach them. Store your food and trash prop­er­ly and accord­ing to loca­tion best prac­tices, and con­trol pets at all times. Most impor­tant­ly, give ani­mals plen­ty of space at all times, but espe­cial­ly dur­ing their most sen­si­tive times: mat­ing sea­son, nest­ing, rais­ing young, or dur­ing the deep win­ter months. As a rule of thumb, if a wild ani­mal’s behav­ior is chang­ing in any way because of your pres­ence, you’re too close.

Prin­ci­ple 7. Be Con­sid­er­ate of Oth­er Visitors
Respect oth­er vis­i­tors. Be cour­te­ous and yield to oth­er users on the trail. (In most cas­es, peo­ple going uphill have right of way.) And man­age your group’s audi­to­ry impacts, too—avoid loud music, shout­ing, and oth­er dis­tract­ing nois­es when they could impact the expe­ri­ence of others.

In clos­ing thoughts, you or some­one you know might be tempt­ed to say, “I’m just one per­son, how much harm could I real­ly do to the envi­ron­ment?” But this is wrong. Yes, one per­son is like­ly to make lit­tle impact, but no man is an island. Hun­dreds or even thou­sands of peo­ple might be think­ing the same thing. Do your best to fol­low, but also spread the word about the best prac­tices to leave no trace.

winter camping

winter campingDon’t let the cold months keep you from sleep­ing in the moun­tains! Win­ter camp­ing requires more plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion than sleep­ing out­side in the sum­mer, but with these sim­ple tips you can avoid the shiv­er-bivy and camp in style all year round.

Plan Ahead
A suc­cess­ful win­ter camp­ing trip begins long before you hit the trail­head. Pick a mod­er­ate des­ti­na­tion, stay­ing close to a road if it’s your first time sleep­ing out in snow. Watch the weath­er fore­casts care­ful­ly, and con­sid­er being flex­i­ble with tim­ing or hav­ing a Plan B in case of an apoc­a­lyp­tic storm front. Learn to rec­og­nize and avoid avalanche-prone areas, and check the local fore­casts before you go. If you’re trav­el­ing through or camp­ing on any snowy slope that’s pitched more steeply than 20 degrees, your crew should have avalanche training.

Plan Your Site
Once you get to your camp­site, look around before you pitch your tent. Where will you be the most shel­tered from the wind? Is there any over­head hazard—snow-covered tree limbs, ice, or rocks that could fall? When the team has agreed, pitch the tent togeth­er, mak­ing sure that some­body always has a hand on every piece of the tent so noth­ing blows away. And be very care­ful about where you put things down in deep snow, because it’s eas­i­er than you might think to lose a glove, tent pole, or camera.

Get Off The Ground
If there’s one key to stay­ing warm while camp­ing on snow, it’s this: do what­ev­er you can to insu­late your­self from the cold stuff, which sucks the heat of your body. Con­sid­er bring­ing two sleep­ing pads—an inflat­able pad for com­fort and a closed-cell foam mat for insulation—and make sure your sys­tem has an R‑value of at least 5. Try not to sit direct­ly on snow or ice either; opt to sit on a back­pack instead.

Make Water
It seems counter-intu­itive, but when you’re camp­ing on snow it can often be hard to find run­ning water. If you’re not pos­i­tive that you’ll have access to a lake or stream for potable agua, be pre­pared to melt your own. If there’s enough sun­light, you can make a solar still out of a black plas­tic trash bag; oth­er­wise, crank up your stove. Just be sure to put a lit­tle water in the pot before you add snow, because—believe it or not—it’s actu­al­ly pos­si­ble to scorch snow and ice, which will leave your water with a burned taste.

Keep Elec­tron­ics Warm
Any­thing with a lithi­um-ion battery—including smart­phones, cam­eras, tablets, recharge­able GPS devices, GoPros, etc.—will lose charge when exposed to cold tem­per­a­tures. To pro­tect your battery’s usable charge, keep small devices and extra bat­ter­ies in a chest pock­et where they’re close to the warmth of your body, and tuck them into your sleep­ing bag at night. Min­i­mize expo­sure to cold air, and car­ry back-up bat­ter­ies for any­thing essential.

Always leave a detailed trip plan and emer­gency con­tact infor­ma­tion with some­body at home. Dou­ble-check that you have the ten essen­tials. And always be extra cau­tious when you’re out­side in the win­ter months.

If you’re look­ing for some­where new and intense to pitch your tent this year, look no fur­ther than these extreme campsites.

Chill Out in the Sub Arctic
Alas­ka draws the major­i­ty of its vis­i­tors dur­ing the sum­mer, but some rugged adven­tur­ers pre­fer to vis­it when the snow is deep and the tem­per­a­ture below freez­ing. You’ll need to dress warm­ly, eat plen­ty, and use snow to insu­late your cho­sen site. You’ll need to be fit, alert, and expe­ri­enced in cold-weath­er camp­ing. But you’ll also enjoy the exhil­a­ra­tion of prov­ing that you can make your­self at home under even the most inhos­pitable conditions.

©istockphoto/gregeppersonCount the Stars While Dan­gling from a Mountain
When you’re try­ing to reach the top, but you need to take a break for din­ner and sleep, just hook up your trusty por­taledge. This sleep­ing sys­tem designed for mul­ti-day climbers is best for those with nerves of steel—but who ever heard of a climber with a fear of heights? Besides, this is the clos­est you’ll ever come to sleep­ing in the clouds.

Check Out Para­nor­mal Activity
Whether you’re a ded­i­cat­ed ghost hunter or a total skep­tic, camp­ing out in pur­port­ed­ly haunt­ed places is a good way to test your bravery—or crazi­ness, depend­ing on your per­spec­tive. Fear of the unknown or inex­plic­a­ble is a uni­ver­sal human trait, so you’ll have your pick of creepy places to set up camp.

Whether the super­nat­ur­al is tru­ly at work, or just some noisy night­time ani­mals, you’ll get your adren­a­line flow­ing. Bonus points if you bust out your Oui­ja board as camp­fire entertainment.

©istockphoto/b-astudioStay the Night in a Cave
Caves are nature’s hotels. A bit damp and dark at times, but a roof over your head all the same. And there’s noth­ing claus­tro­pho­bic about Hang En Cave, the world’s third-largest cav­ern, locat­ed in Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province. You can camp on the shore of the cave’s turquoise pool. But first you’ll have to get there, trekking miles through remote wilder­ness. Once you arrive and set­tle in, the stun­ning beau­ty of this place should help to dis­tract you from the odor­ous­ness of the cave’s bat population.

Sweet Dreams in the Rainforest
The rain­for­est is a buck­et list des­ti­na­tion for many adven­tur­ers. The bio­di­ver­si­ty can­not be beat. But a place so teem­ing with life can be tricky for the unini­ti­at­ed overnight guest to nego­ti­ate. Insects car­ry­ing dis­ease, slith­er­ing snakes, ter­ri­to­r­i­al jaguars, poi­so­nous plant life: there’s a host of flo­ra and fau­na that can turn your adven­ture dead­ly. Still, if you’ve got nerves of steel and a local guide, you might be in for the most mem­o­rable cam­pout of your life.

campsite UK

campsite UKThere are lots of dif­fer­ent things to love about camp­ing; the peace and qui­et, the chance to hike and explore, and the stun­ning nature that sur­rounds you.

This might be why the pop­u­lar­i­ty of camp­ing is on the rise. While there are lots of lux­u­ri­ous hotels and spa breaks avail­able, some peo­ple pre­fer to sim­ply spend some time in the great out­doors. If you love tak­ing a break from the world to go camp­ing, check out five of the best camp­sites in the UK.

Treen Farm Camp­site, Cornwall
Corn­wall is known for its breath­tak­ing beau­ty and cliff top hik­ing routes, so it is the per­fect place for a camp­ing break. There are lots of camp­sites to choose from, but the one that stands out is Treen Farm Camp­site. You can see the ocean from the camp­site, and it is only five min­utes away from one of the UK’s top surf­ing spots, White­sands Bay.

The camp­site is one field back from the rocky cliff top, so the views are tru­ly amaz­ing. Facil­i­ties include toi­lets, show­ers, sinks, a small shop, and a laun­dry area, so it is rel­a­tive­ly well-equipped.

Cleadale, Inner Hebrides
Cleadale offers one of the most unique camp­ing expe­ri­ences in the UK. The jour­ney to the camp­site begins with a fer­ry to the island, and it is like­ly that you will see dol­phins, minke whales, or even an orca as you sail over. When you arrive on the island of Eigg you will be treat­ed to spec­tac­u­lar views; JRR Tolkien even used the scenic area as inspi­ra­tion for his books.

The camp­site is wild and beau­ti­ful but is best suit­ed to peo­ple who real­ly, real­ly love the out­doors. The land isn’t flat every­where and the only sink is out­doors. How­ev­er, if you’re tough enough to deal with the lack of facil­i­ties you will be treat­ed to some seri­ous­ly stun­ning views of buz­zards and plen­ty of island hik­ing routes.

Fox Wood Camp­ing, West Sussex
If you’re look­ing for a fam­i­ly camp­site Fox Wood Camp­ing in West Sus­sex is per­fect. It is locat­ed at the bot­tom of a 34-acre val­ley that is filled with dense wood­lands and lush green­ery. The place is pret­ty basic, only offer­ing com­post­ing toi­lets and gas-pow­ered show­ers, but the wood­land loca­tion makes it more than worth­while. No cars are allowed on the camp­site either, so guests use a wheel­bar­row to trans­port their belong­ings to the camp­site. This is a chance to tru­ly con­nect with nature, and the camp­site is known for being a huge suc­cess with children.

Aber­a­fon, Gwynedd
There are lots of won­der­ful camp­sites in Wales, but Aber­a­fon is a cut above the rest. The camp­site has its own pri­vate sandy beach that is filled with rock pools that are teem­ing with life, and the sur­round­ing cliffs are per­fect for long hikes. If you don’t have a tent, don’t wor­ry about it; you can find lots of tents on our site, such as these 3–4 per­son tents.

Trail­er­flash, Scotland
If you want a camp­ing expe­ri­ence that is a lit­tle more glam­orous, try Trail­er­flash in Scot­land. Guests stay in authen­tic camper­vans next to the sea, and they are ide­al for fam­i­lies or large groups of friends. Each trail­er comes with cen­tral heat­ing, a DVD play­er, a CD play­er, a dou­ble bed, a wet room, a kitchen, and out­door fur­ni­ture. The area is known for its beau­ty, so make sure you explore the area before com­ing back to your cozy trailer.

©istockphoto/AJ_WattBecause there’s more to life—and camping—than instant oat­meal. Just don’t for­get the coffee!

Alpine Scram­ble
For mul­ti-day back­pack­ing trips, noth­ing beats a good break­fast scram­ble. Use dehy­drat­ed hash browns as a base, then add what­ev­er inspires you: chopped sausage, bacon, ched­dar cheese, and hardy, easy-to-trans­port veg­gies like onions, zuc­chi­ni, pep­pers, and cab­bage. Then add eggs. If ambi­ent tem­per­a­tures are cold and you’re rel­a­tive­ly close to home, you can car­ry real eggs (out of the shell) in a small water bot­tle. If you’re on a longer trip or tem­per­a­tures make car­ry­ing real eggs unsafe, pick up some pow­dered scram­bled huevos at your local co-op or out­door store. Mix all ingre­di­ents in a fry­ing pan, scram­ble until everything’s cooked, and blow your adven­ture part­ners’ minds.

Break­fast Burritos
The best recipe for an overnight week­end adven­ture: bur­ri­tos! Make them at home with your favorite ingre­di­ents, wrap each bur­ri­to in alu­minum foil, then freeze in a Ziplock bag. If you take them out of the freez­er on a Fri­day night, they’ll be per­fect­ly ready to reheat on Sat­ur­day morning.


Pop Tarts
Toast­er pas­tries are a clas­sic for a rea­son: they’re stur­dy, deli­cious, and ready to eat. Pop Tarts aren’t a nutri­tion­al pow­er­house, but because they pack a hardy punch of calo­ries and sug­ar they make a great sum­mit-morn­ing snack, and they warm eas­i­ly in a pan or skil­let over a camp stove, fire, or toast­er. To add a hearty dose of pro­tein and heart-healthy fat, top with almond or peanut but­ter. Look for organ­ic ver­sions, too.

If you’re car camp­ing, opt for a south-of-the-bor­der break­fast casse­role: chi­laquiles! All you need is a pack­age of stale (or fresh) tor­tillas, a can or two of beans (prefer­ably black), chopped toma­toes (either fresh or canned), and shred­ded cheese. Tear tor­tillas into chip-sized chunks, then mix with beans and toma­toes and heat slow­ly over a camp stove until the tor­tillas are soft. Top with shred­ded cheese. For added piz­zazz, add jalapeños, avo­ca­do, fresh onion, canned corn, sal­sa, or hot sauce. To add a pro­tein kick, top with a fried egg.

Upgrad­ed Oatmeal
For a healthy treat, skip store-bought pack­ets of instant name-brand oat­meal and make your own! All it takes is quick-cook­ing oats, a sprin­kling of brown sug­ar, and some fun addi­tions: chopped nuts, cin­na­mon, ground gin­ger, dried berries, coconut flakes, nut but­ter, etc. Pack­age serv­ings indi­vid­u­al­ly in sand­wich-sized zip bags. If your camp­ing part­ners are handy when you’re pack­ing, let them select their own ingre­di­ents for a do-it-your­self gourmet mix­ture. Try cin­na­mon-cran­ber­ry, coconut-wal­nut, or blueberry-almond-ginger.


©istockphoto/sliper84Sum­mer is the sea­son for sleep­ing under the stars, throw­ing burg­ers on the grill, and sip­ping on your favorite bev­er­age. Whether you’re hang­ing out in the back­yard, back­pack­ing through alpine won­der­lands, or camp­ing out down by the riv­er, try these fun ideas for our favorite camp beverages.

Car Camp­ing
If you’re car camp­ing, con­sid­er invest­ing in an insu­lat­ed, dou­ble-walled stain­less steel growler to keep beer, cider, or car­bon­at­ed kom­bucha fresh and cold. If you’re going to be out for more than a cou­ple of days, try turn­ing your growler into a per­son­al keg! Just look for a growler that offers a lid with portable CO2 car­tridges and a hose so you can pre­serve your beer’s car­bon­a­tion after tapping.

Back­yard Bonfire
If you’re hang­ing out around a back­yard bon­fire, add a splash of bour­bon or Kahlua to your mug of hot choco­late. For added style points, top your toasty drink with a per­fect­ly gold­en-brown marshmallow—just don’t burn your mouth!

If you’re plan­ning an alpine expe­di­tion, pack a flask of some­thing from the top shelf. Most peo­ple find that drink­ing at alti­tude isn’t as much fun as it sounds, because it ham­pers acclima­ti­za­tion and can cause heart­burn and headaches. But experts agree that when you’ve returned from your suc­cess­ful sum­mit bid, one or two sips of some­thing deli­cious is good for the soul.

The Lake
If you’re spend­ing an after­noon at the lake, make san­gria! Before you leave home, chop up what­ev­er fruit is on hand, then scoop it into a plas­tic bot­tle and add vod­ka. Trans­port it on ice in a cool­er, and when­ev­er you’re ready to drink it, add wine, juice, or sparkling water and gar­nish with more fresh fruit. Enjoy!

If you’re camp­ing in the woods, look for fresh berries (make sure they’re not the poi­so­nous kind). Dou­ble-check to make sure they’re edi­ble, then for­age for a hand­ful of the ripest ones. Put them in a jar, add tequi­la, and wait as long as you can. If you can find snow, add a hand­ful to make a mar­gari­ta! Oth­er­wise, cool your con­coc­tion in a riv­er or stream, then enjoy.

If you’re head­ing to the beach, make grown-up Capri Suns. Mix fruit juice or punch with vod­ka or rum, then pour indi­vid­ual serv­ings into Ziploc bags and freeze overnight. Trans­port the frozen bags on ice in a cool­er, then serve by unzip­ping the Ziplock a cou­ple of mil­lime­ters and slip­ping a straw inside.

If you’re going ultra­light, invest in some pow­dered apple cider, hot choco­late or chai tea. Add warm water, then a splash of your favorite whiskey or rum.

Remem­ber: these ideas are just intend­ed as inspi­ra­tion! Feel free to give each recipe your own spin. After all, the inven­tion is the spice of life! And as always, please drink respon­si­bly. When in the back­coun­try, use extra cau­tion: stay well-hydrat­ed, make sure you’re in a safe place, and nev­er, ever dri­ve when you’ve been drinking. 

If you’re plan­ning a camp­ing trip out to the mid­dle of nowhere, you’ll need to think ahead about your sleep­ing strat­e­gy. Nights in the wild quick­ly get mild. These tips will keep you sleep­ing warm in the backcountry.

campers sleeping warm in backcountry

Prepa­ra­tion is Everything
Research starts before you leave for your trip. Google the weath­er fore­cast of where you’ll be, as well as the his­tor­i­cal weath­er pat­terns for the same sea­son in pre­vi­ous years. Know­ing what to expect can make all the dif­fer­ence in how pre­pared you are.

When you get to your camp­site, look around for the best place to set up camp—you want a flat, dry, durable sur­face that’s pro­tect­ed from the wind. Pitch your tent and stake it out well. Then, before you do any­thing else, set up your sleep­ing sys­tem. Inflate your sleep­ing pad and lay out your sleep­ing bag, so that the down or syn­thet­ic insu­la­tion can ful­ly recov­er all of its loft before bed­time. If you’re a cold sleep­er in a tent with three or more peo­ple, try to sleep between your tent mates (rather than on one side.)

Insu­late Your­self from the Ground
When it comes to being warm, sleep­ing bags are only half of the equa­tion. Edu­cate your­self about R‑values, which are used to mea­sure a sleep­ing pad’s abil­i­ty to insu­late. The high­er the R‑value, the warmer you’ll be. If you’re a cold sleep­er or will be trav­el­ing in extreme cli­mates, con­sid­er using two sleep­ing pads.

Wear the Right Layers
When­ev­er pos­si­ble, put on dry clothes before bed. Avoid cot­ton, and opt for wool or syn­thet­ic instead. Wear a warm hat, socks, and what­ev­er oth­er lay­ers feel good. And that old wives’ tale about how it’s warmer to sleep naked? It only works if you start sweat­ing. As a best prac­tice, if you’re cold put on more layers.

Remem­ber that Sleep­ing Bags Pro­vide Insu­la­tion, Not Heat
Think of an insu­lat­ed cool­er: if you put in some­thing warm, it’ll stay warm; if you put in some­thing cold, it’ll stay cold. So instead of crawl­ing into your sleep­ing bag when you’re cov­ered in goose­bumps, try pre-warm­ing your body. Do jump­ing jacks, push-ups, what­ev­er gets your blood pump­ing enough to raise your core temperature.

Min­i­mize Emp­ty Space
Your body is work­ing hard to heat the air inside your sleep­ing bag, just like a space heater inside a clos­et. The more emp­ty space, the hard­er your body has to work. Try stuff­ing dry jack­ets or cloth­ing inside your bag to fill emp­ty spaces, or tuck extra baf­fles under­neath your body to make the sleep­ing bag smaller.

If you have a mum­my bag, make sure the hood is cov­er­ing your head and cinch the open­ing around your face.

Make Your­self a Hot Water Bottle
If you have the resources, there’s noth­ing cozi­er than a plas­tic bot­tle filled with hot water. Just make sure it’s sealed tight­ly, and dou­ble-check that your bot­tle is BPA-free before drink­ing the water in the morning.

Eat Before Bed
Your body expends lots of ener­gy gen­er­at­ing heat, and a small bed­time snack can pro­vide fuel for the long night ahead. Just avoid sug­ar, and opt for high-pro­tein, high-fat foods like nuts, seeds, or avocados.

sleeping bag

sleeping bagBuy­ing a sleep­ing bag can seem over­whelm­ing, but it doesn’t have to be. When you’re pick­ing the right bag for your next adven­ture, the first deci­sion is sim­ple: whether to buy down or synthetic.

How to Choose Your Insulation
There are two pri­ma­ry kinds of insu­la­tion: down (usu­al­ly made from a duck or goose’s plumage, or under­feath­ers) and syn­thet­ic fibers. Down is light­weight, breath­able, easy to com­press, and excels in cold, dry con­di­tions. Once down gets wet, how­ev­er, it pro­vides almost zero warmth and can take a very long time to dry—which can be a lia­bil­i­ty if you’re plan­ning a trip where wet weath­er is a con­cern. Syn­thet­ic insu­la­tion insu­lates when wet, dries very quick­ly, is hypoal­ler­genic, and is often cheap­er. But it’s also heav­ier, less durable, and bulkier.

Under­stand­ing Down
When you’re look­ing at down bags, the first step is to under­stand the con­cept of fill pow­er. You’ve prob­a­bly seen it on prod­uct labels: 700-fill down, 800-fill down, etc. But do you know what those num­bers actu­al­ly mean?

There’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that fill pow­er is the amount of down in a bag, but it’s actu­al­ly a ref­er­ence to the loft or fluffiness—and there­fore the quality—of the down that is used as insu­la­tion in the sleep­ing bag or anoth­er gar­ment. If you take one ounce of 700-fill down, it will hypo­thet­i­cal­ly take up 700 cubic inch­es; one ounce of 800-fill down will take up 800 cubic inch­es, etc. High­er-grade down (which is usu­al­ly made from more mature birds) is more expen­sive, but it will trap more air next to your body—and the bet­ter your bag’s warmth-to-weight ratio will be.

Under­stand­ing Synthetics
Syn­thet­ic insu­la­tion is usu­al­ly made of poly­ester. Most bags use one of two tech­nolo­gies: short-sta­ple fills or con­tin­u­ous-fil­a­ment fills.

Short-sta­ple fills use short strands of thin fil­a­ments that are dense­ly packed, which makes sleep­ing bags flex­i­ble, soft, and compressible—though not quite as com­press­ible as a down bag of sim­i­lar warmth. Con­tin­u­ous-fil­a­ment insu­la­tion uses longer, thick­er fil­a­ments that are less com­press­ible than short-sta­ple insu­la­tion, but more durable. All syn­thet­ic bags dry rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly, and most are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less expen­sive than down. Most impor­tant­ly, they’ll still insu­late when wet.

Decid­ing Factors
Most peo­ple know that down is ide­al in cold, dry cli­mates, where syn­thet­ic insu­la­tion per­forms bet­ter in wet envi­ron­ments. But there are oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions, too. Down is com­press­ible, where syn­thet­ics are usu­al­ly bulki­er. Down is more breath­able, but syn­thet­ic sleep­ing bags are eas­i­er to wash. And weight is a huge fac­tor: if you’re plan­ning a through-hike of the PCT, those extra ounces mat­ter much more than if you’re car camping.

For more help, ask an expert—and remem­ber, no mat­ter what kind of insu­la­tion you choose, always store your sleep­ing bags uncom­pressed, which main­tains loft and warmth.

It’s that time of year again, sum­mer is here. Whether you’re the ulti­mate back­pack­er or your every­day car camper, here are sev­er­al uni­ver­sal tips for sum­mer camping.

summer camping site

Make Your Camp­site Reser­va­tions in Advance

While the idea of being the spon­ta­neous camper who decides where to go every week­end might sound ide­al, that’s not the real­i­ty of today’s camp cul­ture. We’re not say­ing you should­n’t try to go camp­ing even if it’s last minute, you might even get a site, but if you want to ensure a camp­site in a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion dur­ing a pop­u­lar sum­mer week­end you’d be sil­ly not to try and book in advance.

Many pop­u­lar camp­sites have reser­va­tion sys­tems and we aren’t just talk­ing about the one camp­ground in the clos­est state park to your large metrop­o­lis, even remote back­pack­ing sites in the far cor­ners of our Nation­al Parks require reser­va­tions or per­mits. Many reser­va­tion sites fill up five to six months before, so make sure you do your plan­ning in advance.

The last thing you want is to get to Joshua Tree, on a Thurs­day night dur­ing the peak sea­son, to find out that a motel might be your best option.

Get Your Vehi­cle Tuned Up

Noth­ing can put a damper on the excite­ment of a camp­ing trip like found­ing out about car trou­ble. Yes, chances are you’ll be able to make the best of it by get­ting a rental or using a friends ride, but learn­ing about an unex­pect­ed or expen­sive repair might derail your mood for the entire trip. To avoid this from hap­pen­ing, a week or two before your camp­ing trip, be sure to have your vehi­cle looked at by your trusty mechan­ic. The peace of mind you’ll have in exchange is def­i­nite­ly worth it.

Get Your Gear Together

We’ve all been there, maybe you were out late with friends or just plain pro­cras­ti­nat­ing. But the morn­ing to hit the road has final­ly come and you have yet to even start pack­ing your camp­ing gear. Don’t wait until the last minute to get all your gear togeth­er, nobody likes unrolling their tent at the camp­site only to remem­ber that you for­got to air it out at the end of last sum­mer and now it smells like the dark­est cor­ner of your gym bag.

We rec­om­mend get­ting a des­ig­nat­ed camp­ing bin, or three. They’re a great way to keep all your camp­ing stuff togeth­er. Even if you are tout­ing around a whole apart­ments worth of stuff for your glamp­ing trip, it still stands. There’s no bet­ter way to ensure you won’t for­get some­thing than by hav­ing it all in the same place. You don’t need to wor­ry about it being fan­cy, shoot for func­tion instead.

And let’s not for­get about the won­der­ful mem­o­ries and flash­backs we have when we’re prepar­ing for anoth­er camp­ing trip. Pulling all your gear out of the clos­et and run­ning through a check­list will not only help you to make sure you have every­thing you need, but it’ll also remind you of all the great mem­o­ries you’ve already made with that handy gear.

Brush Up on The “Leave No Trace” Principles

We all know the drill, leave no trace. This rule does­n’t just mean that you clean up your trash after you’ve camped some­where. In order to fol­low this real­ly know what “Leave No Trace” means you should famil­iar­ize your­self with the sev­en prin­ci­ples of the rule:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Trav­el and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dis­pose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Min­i­mize camp­fire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be con­sid­er­ate of oth­er visitors.

These prin­ci­ples might as well be the com­mand­ments of camp­ing, so famil­iar­ize your­self with them. The biggest way to ensure that our nat­ur­al won­ders will be around for gen­er­a­tions to come is if we all take part in main­tain­ing them.