Seven easy ways to make your camping trip more comfortable
Coloradans are blessed with one of the most magnificent backyards on the planet…the majestic Rocky Mountains. Camping in the high country is a favorite activity for local citizens and visitors alike, but inexperienced campers often learn the hard way about how to enjoy the great outdoors and be comfortable at the same time.
The outdoor industry has long been working to make camping more comfortable with new high-tech gear and helpful resources such as hiking apps and equipment rental services. But if you’re still nervous about sleeping outdoors, dealing with dirt, bugs, relieving yourself in the forest and other inconveniences, here are a few tips that will help make your camping trip more comfortable.
Choose a good campsite:There are a variety of good websites featuring well-curated reviews and photos that can give you a good idea of what to expect, such as whether a campsite is best suited for a tent or a camper, and what amenities are available, such as showers, picnic tables, and RV hookups. If you have children, you can choose a site that offers ranger walks and visitor centers with museums and exhibitions. If fishing is available be sure to bring your gear and tackle, and if the site is near hiking trails, make sure they are suitable for the age groups you’re with. You can also choose a campsite where rafting and kayaking are available nearby.
Gear up for a comfortable sleeping setup: A good night’s sleep outdoors is all about having the right camping gear. To stay warm and comfortable you’ll want a good tent that doesn’t leak, a sleeping pad, and a good sleeping bag. Your tent should be big enough for all occupants to sleep comfortably and one that can stand up to the elements. It should be sturdy enough in strong wind and have convenient things such as inner stash pockets and vents.
If a sleeping pad is not comfortable enough, you might consider a cot or a camping mattress. Today’s cots are not anything like the old Army barrack cots you see in movies and on TV with frame cross members that hurt your back and neck. Also, make sure your sleeping bag is the right shape and temperature rating. If you like to stretch out when you sleep, a camping quilt is a good choice. And nothing beats the comfort of a pillow from home. It’s also a good idea to bring enough pillows for everyone.
Elevate your camp kitchen: You’re probably already planning on bringing the basics, such as bowls, mugs, cutlery, and a camp stove or grate for an open fire. To make cooking less of a challenge, bring a cutting board, a good knife, and a portable table. Get a good cooler(s), and if you’re a grilling enthusiast, bring a portable charcoal grill. And you’ll need to make coffee, so bring an old-fashioned coffee pot that can percolate on a camp stove or campfire, and always bring more coffee that you think you’ll need.
Eat better than you do at home: Cooking outside shouldn’t stop you from indulging in delicious food. The key is to treat yourself to high quality ingredients. Whether you want to break out the camp stove or not, here are some camping meal ideas for your trip: Prep a cold potato or pasta salad or coleslaw before you leave home, and pack a lavish charcuterie and cheese spread in your cooler and combine it with your favorite wine (do not bring any glass containers). Bring overnight oats with fruit, nut butter, and spices for a no-cook breakfast. Spend the evening grilling a variety of vegetables and meats, such as mushrooms, peppers, and chicken, yakitori style.
Grill a whole fish and serve it over some quick-and-easy couscous or with tortillas and salsa. Go beyond the classic camp hot dog with a pack of chorizo sausages or German brats and sauerkraut. And the best meal of all when you’re camping is a hot breakfast featuring eggs, pancakes, sausages, and fried potatoes with onions cooked on your camp stove or open fire with grate. Nothing tastes this good! It might be a good idea to purchase a campout cookbook well before you go in order to make a grocery list. And remember, a well-fed camper is a happy camper.
Bring layers and prepare for cooler nighttime temperatures: Any seasoned camper will preach the importance of layers and waterproof clothing, especially to prepare for a drop in temperatures once the sun goes down, even in the summer and especially in the mountains. A cozy hat and jacket are often welcome after the sun sets or while you’re drinking coffee on a misty morning. On cold nights, it can take time for your body heat to warm your sleeping bag, so a pair of wool socks will ward off the chill and they will help you fall to sleep faster. Once you’re warm, you can remove the socks.
Pack a camp chair or hammock you can lounge in: It’s easy to get tired with all the work that goes into a camping trip, not to mention the fun activities such as hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing and more. So make sure you finish the trip feeling rested by creating a nice lounge area and take time to relax every day. Cozy up to the fire in a comfortable camp chair, preferably a folding chair with a flat seat and flat back for proper support. A chair with a cup holder or even a pop-up for a plate is even better. You might also consider bringing a hammock so you can lounge in the sun.
Be prepared for dirt, bugs and weather: You can’t avoid the outdoors while camping, but you can at least prepare for what it may throw your way. To ward off bugs, bring plenty of bug spray or invest in a mosquito repeller. For hot, sunny conditions, pack your sunscreen and a shade structure if your campsite is very exposed. No matter where you camp, you’ll get dirty. If your campsite doesn’t provide showers, you can invest in an easy-to-use solar powered shower. But let’s get real. Nobody does this. Sponge baths are the order of the day. Simply heat some water in an old pan over the fire, bring a wash cloth and bar of soap, and you can wash up. Also, wet wipes are a great thing to have around.