10 Camping Tips for Summer

These are some tips for people who have already done a bit of camping and are optimising rather than going on their first trip. That said, they are still relevant for beginners. Enjoy!

1. Pitching a tent

Point your compass at the pretty star

When you arrive at your campsite, it’s usually afternoon or evening. You start searching for a good place to put your tent…

Of course, the ground should be your first priority. An even and cushioned surface so you don’t have a rock in your butt all night or wake up in the corner of your tent because you slept on a slight slope.

Second, don’t camp under loose branches of a dead tree. If it gets windy in the night, having a branch fall on your tent can really give you nightmares.

Lastly, the pro tip, where will the sun be in the morning? You may want to sleep in and be in the shade. You may want to be warm and get as much as possible. Either way you want to know where it will rise. For this you will need a compass. Take a magnetic bearing by pointing the compass directly at the sunset and lining up north with the magnetic north. Flip that bearing over the vertical axis (North — South axis) of the compass — like one of those stupid blot test paintings they would get crazy people to interpret. So for example, if the sunset is at 30, sunrise will be at 330. If sunset is at 120, sunrise will be at 240. Capisce?

2. Knots

A truckies hitch is gold for ensuring a tightly tied down tent, the video shows how to tied the knot so you can hold down a load, but the principle is the same. The truckies hitch is great because it allows you to tighten the rope like a pulley, without losing tension when you tie the knot. Truckies use it to tie down a load to their trucks so it doesn’t fall off. I use it to ensure that the main water proof cover over my tent is not loose — especially important if it’s windy and raining. The clove hitches are good too but for a tent I skip them and just use half hitches, this allows me to quickly undo the whole thing with a quick tug.

3. Can’t get the tent pegs in. Use Rocks.

Little elves can help too

Especially when you camp in dry arid places, the ground is often rocky or too hard to get a tent peg into the ground. You end up hammering your tent pegs in, bending them in the process and the peg doesn’t stay in the ground anyway. Instead, grab the heaviest looking rocks you can find and use some paracord to tie the tent to it using the knots you just learned. The heavier the rocks the better. Heavy wind or a person who trips can move even heavy looking stones. You would be surprised!

4. A blow up mattress.

These are amazing and probably my most recommended item for people doing the Kokoda Track or any other kind of intense trek where you have to sleep on the ground night after night. You know when you see those people who look really outdoorsy and they have those big geeky backpacks with patches sewn on and a big foam mattress strapped to their backpack… they’re doing it wrong.

Just a pretty face #doingitwrong

Here is 4 reasons they are no good: they are too thin and therefore don’t work — minimum clearance from the ground and therefore less comfortable and cold; they are bulky — they don’t fit in your bag; they instantly mark you as a tourist (and a clueless one at that); and finally, they fall apart very quickly because they are exposed to the rain while you are walking. I will sleep on the floor rather than use them. There’s only one thing about them that is better than the Exped matresses: they’re cheap.

The Exped matresses weigh 300g, they roll up to the size of a beer bottle and give you 7cm of air to sleep on, protecting you from the cold ground and the uneven surface so you can sleep like a baby. Kinda important after walking for 30km with 20kg on your back. They are more expensive, yes, AUD$80 or so, and they require 20 deep breaths to inflate which takes about 3 mins. Big deal — I have to breathe anyway right! Don’t let a salesmen in the store complain about 20 breaths and then show you the ‘auto inflating’ mattresses. The auto inflating mattresses still require breath, but they are almost as useless as the their foam counterparts. Go to a store that lets you try them all. Lie on your side for 8 mins on each one. Now multiply that into 8 hours and pretend you’ve been walking up hills all day. 20 breaths per day and $40 extra won’t seem like much when you get into a comfortable bed at night with a body full of sore muscles that need to recover.

All things considered if you are doing a lot of camping in tents — these pay for themselves on the first night and I have not given it up on any of my long journeys to save weight.

5. Keep warm at night

Just the right sleeping bag

I always have a hard time buying a sleeping bag. Do I get a large heavy warm one or a light small one? I always end up getting one that is smaller and end up being cold. Next time I’ll take the weight and size hit so that I don’t have to put several layers of clothes on and pull the drawstrings to their limit until I’m breathing through a straw in a claustrophobic nightmare.

Always consult the locals or people who have been to the same place at the same time of year.

6. Pegless clothesline

These are cool — I don’t use it as much as I should but that’s just because I don’t do as much washing as I should. When I do, however, I use this nifty little piece of white gold. A piece of paracord will do the job too but this thing is cool cos it has built in hooks and the neat little twists that serve as pegs.

7. Protect ya neck

Using a pillow shouldn’t be this hard

You seeing a trend yet? Sleeping is an important part of camping and any sort of trekking. Getting a good nights sleep is such an important part of making it through a long drawn out adventure.

A pillow is essential component of a good night’s sleep. Here are your options in descending order of comfort:

  • I use my kit bag or waterproof lining bag which has all my clothes in it with a scarf or something draped over it for some friction
  • Put something under the mattress to angle the bed up at one end
  • Stuff a stuff sack with anything remotely soft
  • use your toiletries bag
  • use a water bottle

8. Headtorch (Headlamp)

LED Lenser H14 (AKA The Sun)
LED Lenser K2 Keyring torch

Buy yourself a sun. Everyone I know, even pro’s, have the crappy little Black Diamond headtorches. After the Exped mattress this is the most amazing money for value item on this page. If you’re going to do something do it right. I have never looked back after purchasing the LED Lenser H14. Try walking along a path for hours that has hidden rocks and is overgrown — better yet, try running. You will track me down and kiss my foot for every lumen a good torch provides and you wont give a damn about the extra few grams attached to your head when you’ve just avoided a hidden rock that you were about to sprain your ankle on.

I also carry a tiny LED Lenser torch on my key ring. Nothing is worse than having to get up in the middle of the night from the call of nature and not being able to find a torch. This little one is small enough to keep in your pocket while your sleeping.

9. Practice putting up your tent

Your tent is the first line of defence in your battle against the elements. Get to know your tent, put it up in your backyard or at the local park. Sounds crazy right? People will laugh at you for sure, but so what? Imagine how hard they are going to be laughing at the campsite when you arrive and have no idea what you’re doing and end up sleeping in the car.

10. Forget food, all you need is…

Meal replacement

Can’t figure out what to eat? Don’t want to carry lots of utensils, cutlery, pots and pans? You can live off protein bars for a long time. They are lightweight and give you stacks of energy for their size and weight. Great meal replacement — in the short term.

Originally published at shredderinc.tumblr.com.

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