Camping Tips to Protect You from Bears, Bites and Boredom

June 27, 2022

Mountaineer News | The Editors

The Outdoor Specialists

To ensure a stint with nature that’s memorable for the right reasons and keeps you out of harm’s way, follow the guide below - perfect for any neck of the woods.

Gear up Figure out what to bring based on how much room you have, your mode of transport, and the amount of time you’ll be gone. If you’re hiking to the campsite, be mindful about the weight and bulk of what you’re carrying.

Nobody wants to schlep a 50-pound pack up a mountain.

This checklist from Montgomery Country Parks should help you stick to the absolute essentials and leave the fancy extras for when you next go camping in a car.

Pick your pack Choose a backpack based on the length of your trek and the length of your spine. Manufacturers list the volume of their packs in liters. Multi-day packs are 60 to 80 liters, and these are perfect for 2- to 5-day hikes.

If you’re driving to day hikes from a base camp location, a small day pack will be more than enough for daily provisions and supplies to tide you over while you’re out and about.

Sleep well

Don’t forget the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad (for extra cushion!), and pillow. Being an adventurer doesn’t mean waking up with a crick in your neck.

The size of the tent depends on how many people are squeezing in. It’s also sensible to make sure it’s weather resistant, because… well, you’re going to meet some weather, aren’t you?

A lightweight three-season tent is made for spring, summer, and fall conditions; designed to keep people dry during light snow or rain while keeping the bugs out! If a winter camping spree is in the cards, go with a mountaineering tent that can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Fire up Unless you’re planning to subsist on PB&J sandwiches alone, pack these in your car to bring to your designated campsite:

  • some charcoal (for campsite grills)

  • fire starters

  • wood

  • newspaper

  • matches

  • a propane stove

  • skillet

  • pot

  • utensils

  • cups, bowls, and plates

Always check to see if the site allows campfires, and use fire rings if they’re available. Keep sand and water nearby in case the fire needs to be put out quickly.

Chow down Be as rugged as you like, you’ve still got to eat. Great food options for camping include:

  • granola bars

  • peanut butter

  • beef jerky

  • canned beans and soups (check the infamous scene from “Blazing Saddles” for the real benefits of canned beans around a campfire).

  • trail mix

  • drink powders

  • coffee and tea

They’re perfect for packing light, won’t spoil, and don’t require any cooking. Keep an empty water bottle on hand, too.

Use the tap provided at the campsite to fill ‘er up, or boil and use purification tablets if collecting fluids from a fresh water source (they’re available online). Research recommends a daily intake of 3,000 milliliters for males and 2,200 for females.

Dress for success Cotton is great for staying cool in the ‘burbs, but it’s not your friend in the woods. Instead, choose moisture-wicking clothes and synthetic or wool socks to keep the bod dry and sweat-free. Just in case, don’t forget to pack:

  • raingear

  • a sun hat

  • hiking boots

  • a swimsuit

Grab the gadgets No, we’re not talking about your kids bringing their iPads. There’s a few essential tools that can make camping safer, easier, and more worry-free, including:

  • a flashlight, headlamp, or lantern

  • extra batteries

  • a multi-tool

  • phone charger (for emergencies)

Keep clean Obviously you’re going to get dirty in the woods. However, bringing the following basics will help you stay hygienic. You know how judgmental wood elves can be.

  • soap

  • toothbrush

  • toothpaste

  • toilet paper

Bonus hygiene tips include:

  • Using baby wipes to get rid of dirt (but make sure you pack them out with you, don’t bury them!).

  • Always carry hand sanitizer (pretty much a necessity in a COVID-19 world anyway).

  • Use your camp soap to wash your hair.

  • Bring garbage bags to separate clean and dirty clothes (you can also use one to line your entire backpack if you’re hiking in the rain).

While these seem relatively obvious, you don’t want to be the reason everyone in the group has to wipe their rear on the nearest thistle.

Stay safe Safety is no joke, especially if camping in a remote area. Every camping group should bring along:

  • a well-stocked first-aid kit