THE GREAT OUTDOORS — There's something magical about waking up to sunlight filtering through a tent, listening to the natural world wake up around you, without any of the noise and usual distractions that plague an everyday morning.
That is, until you roll over and realize how stiff your back is from sleeping on a rock all night.
Camping is one of the more popular outdoor activities, especially now during a pandemic where we're all mindful of distancing and staying away from other people. But camping doesn't always have to be uncomfortable, and it's not all that hard to learn to enjoy it. Today, we'll look at three tips you can use to ensure that your next night under the stars is as restful and relaxing as possible.
The right bag
One of the most important pieces of gear for camping is a sleeping bag. Whether you're looking for a bag that's perfect for ultralight backpacking or you just want one that's easy to throw in the backseat of the SUV, a good sleeping bag is one area where you can't afford to just buy the first one you see that falls into your budget range. Some of the experts over at REI have written extensively about this topic, too — and if anyone knows the outdoors gear world, it's the people running REI.
In general, you'll want to pick a bag based on the following criteria:
- Purpose: Are you looking for something that's great for car camping? Or do you want to hike a few miles and get away from the crowds? There's a big weight difference between sleeping bag models, and how you plan on using it will impact how heavy your bag is.
- Temperature rating: Bags are given a temperature rating which, to quote a certain set of pirates, is more like a guideline than an actual code. A bag rated to 25 degrees, for example, will keep you alive at night in 25-degree weather. You won't be terribly comfortable, but you'll make it. A good rule of thumb is to pick a bag rated 10-15 degrees below what you expect the lowest temperature to be while you're out camping.
- Shape: One of the biggest impacts on comfort is picking a sleeping bag that's shaped correctly. The classic "mummy" style is great if you sleep on your back, but they're notorious for not having enough room if you move around while sleeping.
Get a pad
Sleeping pads are an absolute must if you want to be comfortable while camping. One rock in the wrong place all night long can lead to a ton of pain in your back, legs, or neck. Worse, it could be enough to make you want to stop camping altogether.
Sleeping pads aren't terribly expensive, depending on what you get it for. If you're wanting gear for backpacking, you'll pay a premium for lightweight pads. But even cheap foam pads are enough to make a huge difference when you're spending the night on the ground.
The right tent
Finally, if you're not braving a night under the stars, you'll want to pick the right tent for your needs. Small, lightweight tents are pretty popular right now, but if you're just car camping — or you're taking the entire family with you — you'll want something a bit more spacious. Get a tent that's rated for 2-4 more people than you expect to have camping with you, and you'll have plenty of room to stretch out and relax.
Also, pay attention to how much ventilation the tent has. You'll want something with plenty of mesh to let air circulate well. Even when the temps drop, you want circulation in your tent to help keep it warmer.
Staying comfortable while you're camping doesn't have to cost a ton and all it really takes is some attention to detail on your part. What are some of your favorite tricks and tips for staying comfortable while out in the woods? Let us know in the comments below.