MSP Camping Tips
So now you know what NOT to do, you've packed up all the gear, and it's time to camp! Here are a few basic tips that will turn even the greenest newbie into a seasoned camper:
BE PREPARED. We can't stress this one enough! The last thing you want is to run out of food or water, be caught in the rain with a leaking tent, or shiver through a cold night. Spend time planning and preparing for your camping trip, using the checklist above to ensure you have at least the bare essentials. Unless you're hiking, you can afford to bring more camping gear so you're ready for anything.
BE ORGANIZED. Know where all your camping gear is, and make sure to put everything back in its proper bag, pack, or container. It's incredibly easy to lose smaller items (tent stakes included) when packing up in a disorderly fashion. Know how many of everything you brought and count it as you're tearing down camp.
KNOW THE RULES. Just because it looks like someone has camped there, that doesn't make the campsite legal. Before you go anywhere, make sure to get the proper permits and be 100% certain you're legally allowed to camp at your chosen spot.
KNOW YOUR SOURCES OF WATER AND FUEL. If you're camping at a site with water and electricity, no problem. But if you have to chop firewood and collect water, be certain to scope out the sources of these vital elements before you start to relax.
ENJOY NATURE. Don't spend your camping trip stuck behind a screen or fiddling with your equipment. Make sure to get out and enjoy nature around you. That's why you're camping, after all!
ALWAYS HAVE A SLEEPING PAD OR MATTRESS. Sleeping bags are designed for warmth, not comfort. A sleeping pad or mattress will provide some cushioning between you and the rocky, hard ground. Just a few inches of foam or air cushion can make all the difference between a good night's sleep and a sleepless night.
BRING FLAVORFUL FOODS. Forget the canned black beans or the tins of bland tuna. Look for flavorful foods like Sardines in Louisiana Sauce, Canned Asian curry, or Spaghetti-Os. Your canned meals don't have to be boring!
Consider cooking with wood. Having a gas grill is always nice for streamlining the cooking process, but don't only cook with gas. Wood fires lend a delicious flavor to your food, particularly to your meats. It doesn't get any better than a delicious steak cooked on a wood fire!
BRING SOMETHING TO DRINK. Nothing beats a fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning, and it's always wonderful to kick back at the end of the day with something a bit stronger (vodka, whiskey, rum, etc.). A drink or two can make the camping experience a whole lot more enjoyable!
COOK, FREEZE, AND BRING YOUR FOOD. Don't rely only on canned and dried foods while camping. For the first meal of your camping trip, prepare a delicious meal at home, freeze it overnight, then let it defrost on your way to the campsite. Pop it into a cookpot or pan to heat up and you'll have a wonderful way to start the trip.
CAMP FOR A PURPOSE. Don't just go camping for the sake of pitching a tent and sitting around your campsite. Plan your trip around a specific activity: hiking to a mountaintop, enjoying a river or lake, or engaging in outdoor sports. Use the daylight hours to enjoy yourself, and it will make those relaxing evening hours much more pleasant.
DON'T HESITATE TO BRING A FEW EXTRAS. A pillow can help you sleep much better. Camping chairs will make your campsite so much more comfortable. A good book (physical or on Kindle) can help you pass a few quiet hours. They're not essentials, but they can definitely make your camping trip a lot more enjoyable.
YOU CAN NEVER BRING TOO MUCH LIGHT. Headlamps and lanterns are great for portable light sources, but consider bringing a few powerful lamps to illuminate your campsite. It's definitely easier to enjoy your evenings when you can see where you're going and what you're doing. Plus, it makes those late-night bathroom trips a whole lot less stressful!