Well, we are off to Lake Tahoe tomorrow. It will be a long driving day with an interesting drive between the desert floor and the 11 mountain passes to traverse along the way. Needless to say, I think we will drive separately. We have been at Great Basin NP for the last 3 days. What a different environment and scenery than where we came from in Colorado. The Great Basin stretches from the California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, through most of Nevada, to Utah’s Wasatch mountains. It is HUGE! The G...
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The weather's about to start getting cooler, the leaves are turning beautiful colors ... it's the perfect time of year for a camping trip!
Whether you're headed out in your RV or are looking for your next tent camping adventure, we have the perfect list of top essentials to pack on your adventure to make it memorable, enjoyable, safe, and most of all...FUN!
Tarps and Rain Flies
If you're camping in a tent, you'll be most comfortable if your shelter is dry. Use a tarp underneath the tent to keep the soil's moisture from seeping in. A tarp can also go over your tent to protect it from rainfall. Some tents also come with a rain fly for this purpose.
Tarps are helpful for any camping trip, even if you're not "roughing it." Use a tarp for a makeshift awning during wet nights or to lay out clothes to dry in the sun. You can also stretch one between two trees to act as a windscreen.
Campsite Rigging and Security
Fall can be a windy season. Keep your tent in place by firmly securing it to the ground. Always bring tent stakes, along with extra zip ties and sandbags if needed. If you're hanging a tarp above your tent or setting up a windscreen, you'll need bungee cords, rope, and/or cable ties to rig it.
Also: as bears prepare for hibernation, they're actively searching for food. Keep your meals in a bear-proof container and suspend it from a tree.
Blankets, Sleeping Bags, and Pads
Especially if you're camping in an area that gets cold, you must have a well-insulated sleeping bag. You'd be surprised how quickly the temperature drops at night. To protect yourself from hypothermia, invest in a good sleeping bag. Down or imitation down keep your body heat in and the cold out.
Stay even warmer with a wool blanket. Wool wicks away moisture that could make you feel colder. They're also naturally flame-resistant, so they're perfect for bundling up as you make those s'mores around the campfire.
Sleeping pads go underneath your sleeping bag for extra insulation and comfort. They also buffer you from the inevitable rock that pokes through the tent floor.
While waterproof sandals such as Tevas are often marketed for the great outdoors, you'll want something sturdier for your fall camping trip. Invest in a good pair of hiking boots — ideally waterproof.
If you're packing sneakers, choose ones with thick soles and good arch support. Uppers should be made of breathable material.
Any shoes you wear should cover your ankles to provide stability and protection against ticks.
And speaking of feet, be sure to pack extra socks. Few things ruin a camping trip faster than sitting around in wet socks.
Layers, Layers, Layers
Depending on your geographic region, you may be in for some cold, wet weather. There's no access to a tumble dryer out in the wild. Stay comfortable by dressing in layers. This way, you can always adjust your ensemble to the weather.
Your lower lays (shirts, leggings, long underwear, etc.) should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric such as wool, polyester, or silk. Cotton absorbs sweat and water vapor, so you'll end up feeling colder.
Outer layers can be made of cotton, although wool or fleece are better options. Pack a range of light jackets, sweaters, vests, and pants. If you expect a cold temperature or rain, be sure to pack a poncho or rain jacket!
Lots of Lighting
Nighttime comes sooner during fall, so be sure you have ways to illuminate your campsite. For obvious reasons, you should use electric lamps in lieu of kerosene lanterns or candles. Pack a variety of battery-powered lanterns, headlamps, flashlights, and other portable lamps.
You may not be sweating in the sun, but that doesn't mean you can't get dehydrated. In fact, you're less likely to notice the warning signs when you're cold. Make it a habit of drinking water throughout the day.
As potable water is scarce at many campgrounds, always pack a few extra gallons. Each member of your party should have access to at least 64 ounces of clean water per day — more if you're hiking or kayaking. That's a lot to carry, so make sure you have water purification tablets or LifeStraws on hand as well.
Cooking and Campfire Gear
Unless you feel like subsisting on berries and bark, bring lots of easy-to-cook meals and high-carb snacks. Instant oatmeal, couscous, and canned beans or chilis are always good options. Don't forget hot chocolate packs, tea bags, and pour-over coffee!
As you can't tote a lot of cooking supplies, bring a few multi-purpose tools:
- Cast-iron skillet
- Dutch oven
- Tinfoil (great for no-mess cooking over the fire)
- Large mugs for beverages or soup/chili
- A cooking rack for your campfire
- Lighters or matches
- A portable camping stove
Washing dishes at your campsite can be a pain, especially if you have limited access to water. Try lining your plates with paper towels. Wipe off with an alcohol wipe after you're done. You can boil your utensils in water to clean them.
If you must use disposable plates or utensils, choose biodegradable options. Place them in a sealable compost container with your food scraps, then take them home to your compost heap.
Pack with the unexpected in mind — including worst-case scenarios. It's always better to be safe than sorry! As with any sort of travel, you should bring a first aid kit. For fall camping, you'll need a few extra survival tools:
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Rain gear
- Insect repellant
- Bandana (for emergency water sifting or face covering)
- Hand sanitizer
- Map of the area
These items don't take up much space and can make a world of difference should you get lost, caught in the rain, or attacked by no-see-ums.
When packing for your fall camping trip, always prioritize your safety! At a bare minimum, you must stay warm and hydrated, especially when temperatures drop.
Fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with a camping adventure! We hope you have a great time out and about this autumn season!