I woke up and groggily stepped outside of my room. As I opened the door I was immediately welcomed by a cool, fall breeze. My heart skipped a beat as the fresh air awakened my senses.
"YES!" I thought. "Fall is here."
And when fall is here, it means camping season is here. Warm fires, wool socks, black coffee (or not) and flap jacks - it's all a part of the magic of camping in Autumn. If you have never been camping, don't worry! I got your back.
If you're new to this sort of thing, you're going to need a place to camp. Not everyone has woods behind their house so you're going to have to search elsewhere. Thankfully, there are resources such as this one which will help you find camping locations within your state:
However, if you have access to land to camp on whether through a friend or family member, it may be worth checking out!
Camping alone definitely has its benefits. I, for one, much prefer camping with friends or my family to enhance the experience. Being away from the hustle and bustle of life will give you ample opportunity to catch up on quality time with the people you love. Grab a couple of friends and work with them to choose a weekend that works best for everyone.
Depending on where you live, you'll want to choose a time of year that is suitable for camping. Fall tends to be some of the best time for camping because the weather is cool but not unbearably cold yet. It allows you to enjoy a campfire without the wretched heat of the summer and sleep comfortably away from the fire without freezing your tail off at 2:00am. That being said, I have camped in the middle of all four seasons and have enjoyed every trip - if you prepare accordingly, you can make the most out of any weather.
Planning ahead is crucial. Depending on your geographic location and time of year you could have either a very good experience or a quite horrible one.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Weather: About a year ago, a buddy and I were camping in a national park in Arkansas. We had bedded down for the night after an evening of good conversation, bowls of hot chili and some mellow tunes. What we hadn't counted on was being woken up in the morning by a torrential downpour. My eyes fluttered open and I immediately inhaled a nostril full of water - the bottom of our tent had flooded and my face was lying halfway in a puddle (yes, even that trip was enjoyable).
Terrain: Terrain will affect temperature, gear, potential dangers, comfortability and the vibe of the trip. Spend ample time determining where you want to camp and taking the necessary steps to tailor your trip to the land.
Transportation: Often, you can drive to a location and simply hike the rest of the way into the woods. Some campsites at national parks will actually have trails that allow you to drive all the way up to your site! Depending on where you go, make sure you have figured out how to get there.
Forget those hard-cased, bejeweled, rolling suitcases that you used when you flew to NYC last year. They don't fly. You need a good sturdy duffel or a rucksack that you can easily traipse through the woods with and not worry about it getting a little torn up or dirty. An old school backpack will work if you have one lying around. Based on your trip's specifications (See #4: Plan), you'll need to pack accordingly. But here are the basic categories you'll need to pay attention to. I have put together a packing-list that you can download that will break the items up by weather and terrain.
- sleeping supplies (tent, hammock, sleeping bag, pillow, blankets etc.)
- cooking supplies + food (skillet, spatula, coffee pot, utensils, plates etc.)
- clothes (hiking boots, warm jacket, rain jacket/pancho, warm socks, hat etc.)
- recreational equipment (fishing, hunting etc.)
- survival gear (matches, flashlight, knife, hatchet/machete, compass, map, tarp etc.)
- miscellaneous (guitar, book, life-planning guide etc.)
Here's my challenge to you:
This fall, camp at least one night (and yes, backyard camping does count as long as you don't sneak off to your bed in the middle of the night).
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! All of the recommended gear is gear that I ether personally use and swear by or gear that is made by a brand that I believe in.
Photographs by Sarah & Chris Rhoads of We Are the Rhoads