What Gear You Need
Are considering returning to the woods for the first time since you were a kid or are currently contemplating packing up the car for a long weekend away with friends in the great outdoors. If so, then this is a post dedicated to all you first time campers and those who haven’t been in years, though it may be of value to the experienced backpacker alike.
Camping can be a tremendously rewarding experience if you have the correct equipment and the knowledge about how to use it the right way. Nothing ruins a trip to the woods faster than not having what you need. Hopefully the tips here will help ensure that you have what you need for your upcoming time away. After all, the whole point of stepping out into the wilderness is to find comfort in doing things a different way and breaking from your normal routine.
The shelter you choose could be in the form of a tent, hammock, lean-to, or even a cabin in the woods. No matter what option you choose to temporarily call home, make sure you know how to work with it once you get to where you are going.
In the case of a tent or a hammock, make sure that you know how to actually set it up before you get into the wilderness and that you have all the necessary tools to make the process easier. Extra stakes and something to help drive them into the ground never hurt to have on hand. Often, the stakes that are included with many tents can bend too easily when they come into contact with a underground rock or hard patch of ground.
It is also important to note when considering which tent to pick out that the number of people a tent advertises to sleep is often far more than what you think could fit comfortably. If a tent says “Sleeps 4 comfortably” then think two grown adults and a couple backpacks.
What you choose to sleep on will make a load of difference when it comes to how rested you may feel the next day. If you go the sleeping bag route then you should be paying close attention to the temperature rating on the bag. Any given night in the mountains can range in temperatures quickly once the sun goes down and staying warm can become a real challenge if your sleeping bag isn’t rated for an overly chilly night.
Another thing to consider is to lay a sleeping mat below your bag. This will do two things for you as you sleep. The first is that it will give your body an extra layer of cushioning from the rocks and other objects below you. This can go a long way when everything is already set up and staked down and you discover that one rock that wants to poke you in the back all night.
The second benefit to having a sleeping pad is that it will also give you a layer of insulation from the chill coming up from the ground. Even though the ground may not feel cold when you set your tent up, it will start to pull at your body heat every chance it gets throughout the night.
If you plan on cooking while you are out in the woods, then you will also need some tools to help get this job done. A lighter or firestarter of some kind will help you get the fire going without much issue. There are a variety of opinions on how to build and use a cooking fire and some reading right here on the Trek Ultra blog can help you find some more information regarding those two concepts.
The actual tools needed for cooking can vary based on what you are planning to make. The most versatile things to use when in the woods are a small spatula, a sharp knife with some way to ensure the blade is covered when not in use, a frypan or fire resistant pot, and some aluminum foil. The foil has a hundred uses when it comes to cooking out in the woods and you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t bring it along with you!
Know that whenever you attempt to cook anything while camping, there will be some definite trial and error going on. Campfires are unpredictable so pay careful attention to what is going on and always make sure to clean up everything that you use to avoid attracting unwanted visitors.
There are any number of other tools that could be of use when you head off into the woods. A good flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries will never disappoint you. Also make sure to bring extra dry clothes for when it rains and a good pair of broken in shoes that are suitable to what you are planning to do. If you are planning a ten mile hike then you should expect to need something more than flip flops.
You may also find it handy to pack something comfortable to sit in for those times when you are looking to sit and relax after a long day in the woods. Trek Ultra has an excellent option with their Tour One Camp Chair.
These basic tips will hopefully help ensure that your first trip to the woods in ages is one that you will want to repeat again. This list covers many of the basics needed to help ensure your first foray back to nature isn’t a total disaster and has at least some of the minor comforts of home. Even an experienced backpacker will tell you that the gear you take with you into the woods is ever changing as you see new things and old things wear out.
No matter what you take with you when you leave, the hope is that when you return you are able to bring lasting memories back.