There are two types of people—the ones who think a skyscraper is where they spend their 9 to 5, and the ones who think they are 100-year-old pine trees.
Being what people in the south deem as “city folk” is not a bad thing, but there are a few words of advice you should take to heart before getting in touch with nature.
Camping in the breathtaking Yellowstone Park or the diverse Ludington State Park in Michigan is an experience you don’t want to miss, no matter where you’re from.
However, nature can be a fickle place, full of trials and wonders alike. Knowing what you’re dealing with can certainly give you an edge up, allowing for more positive camping memories.
While every scenario cannot be predicted (which is part of the adventure), there are a few tried and true tactics to make sure your experience is pleasant, no matter what comes your way.
1. Function Over Fashion
Living in the city, wearing brand names and being in style means something. They are a status symbol, signifying your level of success and insight into the current culture.
In the woods, such items could not mean less. On a cold, windy night, you are going to wish you packed that frumpy wool sweater instead of your Calvin Klein mid-length chevron trench coat.
Materials like cotton and wool will keep you warm and are naturally moisture-absorbing. On the other hand, materials such as polyester, silk, and nylon hold moisture and body odor. For the sake of everybody camping with you, please leave these at home.
Packing tall socks and hiking boots will fare better over sneakers, offering ankle support, as well as keeping unwanted critters away from your skin.
2. Don’t Eat Where You Sleep
We all have our vices, and if yours is chocolate and popcorn with a glass of red wine after the kids go to bed, you’re going to have to switch up your routine for a few days.
All sorts of creepy crawlies, and more importantly bears, are keen on easily accessible food and can smell it a mile away—literally!
Keep all food out of the tent and in a secure area, such as a locked car or suspended from a tree in what campers call “bear cans.”
3. Don’t Underestimate A Stream
Water can be a strong force. If you need to cross a creek or river, don’t take your boots off, because you could easily slip on wet rocks. Also, long pants are not advisable because they create added resistance in the water.
Also unclip the sternum and waist straps on your hiking pack so if it begins pulling you down in the water you can quickly release it to prevent drowning.
When crossing water, its easier to move with the current and end up a little downstream from where you began.
Camping trips should end with tales of adventure, not search parties and medic-vacs.
4. Water Is Your Friend
The key to any positive camping experience, or surviving in nature period, is having a source of fresh water.
While you’re hiking, especially with a heavy pack on, you’re going to want (and need) to stay adequately hydrated.
Keep a bottle of water somewhere you can easily reach, preventing a ten minute stop to unload every time you want a sip.
And this should go without saying, but fill your bottle with water only, not a sports drink or afternoon cocktail. The cocktails can wait until you’re back at the campsite.
And take advantage of fresh springs and rivers you see, refilling any reservoirs you toted along. This is where the portable water filtration system you splurged on will come in handy.
5. Fire Is Essential
Camping wouldn’t be complete without a nice fire to cozy up to in the evenings.
A campfire will cook your dinner, keep you warm, ward off animals, and make the perfect ambiance for scary stories.
If your only attempt at lighting a fire is turning the pilot light on for your stove, then check out the U.S. Forest Services guide to building a safe campfire.
Once the fire is lit, you are on lockdown. Do not ever leave a fire unattended—even a little rinky-dink campfire small enough for your kid’s Barbie dolls is enough to burn the entire woods down.
With that being said, be sure to assign someone with campfire duty to make sure the flames are completely diminished before going to bed.
6. Leave The Cologne At Home
Animals have an incredible sense of smell and will hone-in on you if you’re cologne or perfume is enough to permeate a five mile radius!
You do not want half the animal kingdom hunting you down while you’re taking that unforgettable selfie at the top of a mountain.
Plus, your fellow campers want to enjoy the smell of pines, flowers, and fresh air, not the latest celebrity scents.
7. Unfriendly Introductions
Say you’re walking along, joking with your buddies, only to cross paths with a 600 pound grizzly bear.
What do you do, other than pee in your pants and say a prayer?
Well, the protocol when bumping into Pooh’s cousin is to seem as big as possible and barking the loudest noises imaginable to appear as a threat they don’t want to face.
Sounds a bit crazy, but believe it or not, this has worked for many people.
Now, if you come face-to-face with any of the wild feline species, go back to peeing in your pants and saying a prayer—in a calm and upright position of course. Wild cats are not easily scared, can run fast, and climb trees.
If you take heed of these tips, it won’t matter if you’ve walked on more concrete than grass. Either way, you’re sure to come home excited for your next opportunity to feel the rugged freedom that only comes with camping in the wild.
Please let us know in the comments section if you’ve been thinking of leaving the comfort of the gridlocked streets and experience the scary abounding space of the great outdoors!