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3 Tips to a Great Camping Trip

Updated on January 11, 2011

In an earlier hub I explained what 3 things are essential to finding a good place to camp.  If you missed it you can read it here But finding a great campsite is really only half the story.  On top of finding a good place you need to be prepared so you can have a great experience.  In this hub I'll share with you the most important 3 tips in my opinion to having a fun camping experience.

Pack Light

I'm assuming that you are like me and want to enjoy some solitude while on your camping trip.  To do that you may have to do some considerable hiking.  That means backpacking.  On my wife and my first camping trip, we made a mistake in this department and paid big time for it!  Our packs weighed in about 50 lbs a piece.  We aren't big people either.  I only weigh 140 lbs and my wife weighs...ehem well less than me.  We didn't realize just how much of a struggle it was going to be.  We were planning on hiking about 5 miles.  We didn't make it out of the organized campground.

They say the maximum weight you want in your packs is 1/3 of a man's body weight, or 1/4 of a woman's body weight.  But that is that max that is recommended.  The next time we went backpacking we tried the max.  It was alot better than 50 lb packs, but it was still quite a struggle.  After a few miles you really feel it in your shoulders even if you have a nice pack.  The more we backpack the more we realize that the more enjoyable our hike (and consequently our camping trip overall) is directly proportionate to how heavy our packs are.  Do yourself a favor and pack lite!

Don't Underpack

This may seem like a contradiction but what I mean by not underpacking is to make sure you pack what you need.  This could mean bringing the right stuff for camp to be comfortable, packing enough food, bringing all the right gear.  You need to have everything you need, because being 10 miles into a wilderness is a bad place to wish you had brought something with you.

Once on a camping trip to Providence Canyon State Park in GA, I hiked about 4 miles in by myself.  I had checked and doublechecked my pack to make sure I had brought everything.  But I overlooked one thing: I forgot to bring a lighter.  There I was 4 miles into a wilderness, sun is setting, I'm starving and I have no way to cook my food because I forgot my lighter.  I'm pretty good at thinking up solutions to problems but there was no solution for this one.  I needed something to light my stove since open fires at the time were banned due to a drought.  I had to eat cold spam and uncooked instant mashed potatoes that night.  Not the meal I was hoping for while on the hike.  Bring what you need!

Give Yourself Enough Time

Be realistic when planning your itinerary.  I can't describe to you the sinking feeling of arriving at a campsite in the dark because you bit off more than you could chew.  Hiking in the dark, setting up a tent when you can't see, cooking food hours after planned are all really disheartening.  Not to mention you'll miss out on some great views because it's dark, or you run out of time and have to cut things out of the plan.

When hiking with full packs, they say to plan on 2 miles an hour.  I say plan on no more than a mile and a half.  When driving to a camp destination, add an hour of drive time for every 4 hours you drive.  These buffers will help make sure you have enough time to enjoy your home run campsite.  


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