It’s been a long winter, well maybe not, but to me every winter drags on as if it’s never going to end. But the good news is warmer weather, sunnier days and greener forests have finally arrived which means it’s time to get out your camping gear and head back into the woods.
Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned camping veteran, here are some tips to get you back in the swing of the great outdoors.
1- Make sure your gear us updated and good to go before leaving the house
Get out your camping gear at home and check for rips, tears and things that need to be replaced. Tents especially get beat up with all the taking down and putting up over the years, so make sure you don’t have a leak before you’re out in the woods with the rain. Also, make a checklist of things you need to bring each time and laminate it. This will make packing for your next trip less stressful and time consuming.
2- Refill your propane tanks
Whether you’re in a camper or using propane to cook on a stove, assuming you have enough gas for your first trip of the season is a good way to end up stranded up without any. Take your tanks for a refill before heading out, even if it’s just to top them off.
3- Restock your canned food
Restock your food box with canned chicken, tuna and other protein rich options. During the day, you’ll likely be out hiking, fishing swimming, etc., and it’s important to bring along good nutrition. Keep in mind some places you may be camping could have restrictions on fires and using camp stoves, which means cooking will be limited. Don’t forget a can opener.
4- Research new places to explore
Get out of your normal camping routine and look for a new spot or campground. While doing research, be sure to find out what kind of animals and insects you may encounter. Are there bears? If yes, you may need to bring a metal lock box for your food, along with bear spray. Ticks or scorpions? Bring repellent and remember to check shoes and clothing.
5- Check firearms laws
There’s no doubt you should always bring a firearm with you when you’re camping outdoors, especially if you’re alone (which I do not recommend). If you’re exploring a new state that is unfamiliar to you, make sure you thoroughly understand the gun laws. Is there reciprocity with your home state permit? How are you legally supposed to transport your firearms and ammunition? Are certain kinds of ammunition or capacity limited? Are there special rules for the park or campground you plan on visiting?
6- Don’t forget a real map
Thankfully, there are a few places left that do not have great cell service so be prepared to rely on a real map for some of your trip if the GPS can’t find a signal. Also invest in a GoTenna, which can be used anywhere to gain cell service in an emergency.
7- Bring cold weather gear, even in the summer
Be sure to always remember to bring cold weather gear, even if you’re headed to a warm or hot climate. This is especially true when you’re changing altitudes on hikes or camping in the desert, which can experience extreme swings of hot to cold.
8- Take a friend who has never been before
Our job as explorers and conservationists of the great outdoors is to share it with others. Convince a friend who doesn’t camp to come out for a weekend with you. Make sure you help them pack the right stuff so their first experience is enjoyable.
9- Map out your spring, summer and fall calendar
Sit down with your calendar and mark off a few different weekends to get outside. This way, the good weather seasons won’t speed by and leave you at the end wondering how you didn’t get your much-needed camping trips in.
This Retro WON first appeared March 29, 2017.