Make your first camping trip comfortable and safe
COMPILED BY FRIYAN DRIVER
If you grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes, the thought of camping would hold absolutely no attraction for you, conjuring up images of stuffy tents and cold, soggy sandwiches, encounters with overzealous campers and a constant battle with mosquitoes. Don’t dismiss camping altogether; it’s not all gloom and doom, as Calvin would have you believe.
PICK A PLACE: It’s very important to pick a place according to your fitness level. Many protected areas are car-free, which means loads of walking. Weather, too, plays a huge role in how your camping trip will go. Check weather forecasts online once you know where you want to go. Familiarise yourself with the wildlife of the area, especially if you’re going to a national park; you don’t want to have a bear crashing your marshmallow party, nor do you want to pitch your tent close to a shrub of poison ivy and be left scratching for the rest of your trip!
HOW TO PACK: Pick a bag based on how long your trip is, and only carry what you need. Backpacks will be your best bet – lugging a 40kg suitcase over rough terrain is no fun! And check it before you leave – a backpack that gives way on a trip can be a nightmare. Do not overpack; leave those curling irons and that PSP at home, and focus instead on the weather. Wearing your bulkiest clothes like jackets while you travel will free up more space, and packing in reverse order – with what you will need first on top – saves time. Lastly, this is when you should take all those quick-dry clothes (swimsuits, tracksuits, etc).
SETTING UP: Always aim to reach the campsite before sundown. Once you get there, enquire about the general direction of the wind and sun, and choose a patch of level ground on which to pitch your tent. Keep the location of the loo in mind – you want it to be not too close, but not too far, either. Avoid being too close to cliffsides and water bodies, especially if you’re with kids. Organise your campsite from the get-go; everything should have its place. For example, have a designated area to keep food, trash and the like. If you’re pitching your tent under a tree, make sure there are no dead branches lurking overhead.
WHAT ABOUT FOOD? Most campsites have an onsite restaurant or café that serves delicious local food. You can also rent a fire pit if the site has one, and have yourself a barbeque. International campsites usually have a grocery store from where you can shop for edibles like bread, eggs, water and chocolates. Carrying granola bars always helps!