Camping is a great American pastime!
With all the beautiful sights right here in our nation, getting out into nature is simple, affordable, and chock-full of unforgettable memories – like when dad forgot to pack the tent poles.
But if your camping equipment is not in tip-top shape, you could be inviting some unwanted trouble into your adventures- and some unwanted forest friends!
With travel at a virtual stand-still, you may be on the edge of your seat about how summer vacation is going to pan out.
Camping is the perfect remedy, with social distancing being a natural occurrence and no reliance on an unpredictable service industry necessary.
Not all official camping sites are open, but many public parks are.
And where there is land, there can be camping.
Which leads to packing for your exciting trip. If you are new to spending your nights under the stars be sure to check out Proud American Traveler’s guide to including the most essential items.
For all of you who have a shelf in the garage with all your yearly camping supplies do these things before loading the cargo carrier.
Because as Iris Diligencia, lead repair shop technician for Mountain Safety Research, the venerable Seattle–based outdoor gear company, says to USA Today:
“Because you depend on your gear for warmth, comfort and safety, using the pre-season to perform basic maintenance on it will pay dividends in not only equipment lifespan, but also your enjoyment in the backcountry.”
1. Assemble Tents
Not everyone uses a tent to camp, but if you do, pitch your tent in the yard prior to bringing it on-board as an essential shelter.
There will likely be natural debris that needs to be swept out from the year before, and checking all seams before being caught in a rain storm will save your stuff and your sanity.
Throwing on a precautionary coat of seam sealer wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
With the tent fully assembled you will know if you forgot some poles on the forest floor last year, or if your tent stakes are still functional or shaped like a donut after trying to secure them in a rock.
A tent will not keep out a 600 pound grizzly bear, but it will give you a protective barrier between you and hundreds of little critters who are curious about their new visitors.
2. Check Cooking Equipment
Have you seen Man versus Wild with Bear Grylls where he grabs big, juicy grubs out of a rotten log and pops it in his mouth claiming his hunger is satisfied by the ample amounts of protein in the wriggling thing?
Well, if you are like me I’m going to do everything in my power to never be in this situation.
Although it is unlikely a canister-powered stove will need maintenance, notes Diligencia, it is still a good idea to turn it on and make sure it is running properly.
Make a list of the meals you will be eating during your trip and carefully consider how you will be preparing each one.
Do you need a can opener for the beans, a pot for the soup, or a lighter to start the fire?
And bringing a bear-proof box or suspension bag for your food while you are not in camp or during the night will keep all the delicious smells of marshmallows and chocolate from luring big appetites your way.
3. Pack First-Aid Essentials
Maybe you have been lucky enough to not have an emergency situation that has required first-aid attention in the last several years.
This is awesome, but could mean your supplies are expired.
Restock any insect repellent, bandages, and ointments in your pack so you are ready for any flesh wound you acquire from taking an adventurous risk- or from surprising a snake while you are trying to use the bathroom behind a bush.
The great outdoors does lead to the occasional run in with fuzzy and slimy creatures of all shapes and sizes- but then again you did crash into their home.
With the appropriate gear and precautions camping is both safe, active, and relaxing all at the same time.
Travel is more than resorts and swimming pools.
Let nature be your companion and enjoy a summer trip more authentic than the rest.