Guest Blogger Trevor Richards on Behalf of Outdoor Roadie & Crua  - Feb 13 2023

12 Camping Tips to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors can be restorative. It can also be challenging. Often it's both. Nature's gifts of variety and constant change give us a chance to curate our own outdoor experience. There's no one-size-fits-all. Glamping, wild camping, rooftop tent camping, and campers have their place and appeal.Whatever you choose, there are endless lessons, tips, and skills to learn to make your outdoor experience more enjoyable. It's a self-fulfilling process. The more you know about the trees, animals, landscape, history, and general camping skills, the deeper your experience will be.

That said, educating yourself can feel like drinking from a fire hydrant. Where do you even start?! To ease your brain into the outdoors, we've created a short list of Non-Negotiables, as well as, Tips for Common types of camping experiences:

  • Car Camping
  • Wild Camping
  • Cold Weather Camping
  • Camping with Children

The overall goal of this article is to help you enjoy the outdoors more. Much of the advice is at the intersection of comfort and safety. In the outdoors, your comfort and safety often go hand in hand.

3 Non-Negotiables/Ground Rules:

In the sea of outdoor advice, there are through lines. Overarching rules that cover almost any scenario. These 3 Non-Negotiables apply to all the camping styles presented in this article.  

1. Check the Weather Forecast

  • Check the weather forecast before you pack. And again, before you leave.
  • Despite the plethora of weather data available, outdoor enthusiasts often gloss over this critical step.
  • The practice is a safety check. You may need to bring different clothing to deal with colder temperatures. Or you shouldn't go because the weather is too dangerous. You won't know unless you check.

2. Hydrate

  • I know, I know, more obvious advice. Yet so many fail at this. Clear thinking, mood, and energy are all affected by dehydration.
  • If you're driving, you have the luxury of packing more water than you think you'll need. Keep an emergency stash of water (min. one gallon) in your car. Replace it from time to time.
  • Cold weather is surprisingly moisture-sapping. Each misty exhale is water leaving your body. Keep your core temperature up with tea and broth. 
  • A water filter or water purification tabs should always be in your pack. Contaminants will take anyone down.
  • Have a map with confirmed water sources (some hiking apps use crowd-sourced updates).

3. Layer Your Clothing

  • Layering your clothing is an art. Temperature regulation is your friend.
  • Too much exertion with heavy winter clothing will make you sweat. If that sweat freezes, you can risk hypothermia. Conversely, too much exposure to the sun can cause burns, blisters, and heat stroke.
  • Cold weather is surprisingly moisture-sapping. Each misty exhale is water leaving your body. Keep your core temperature up with tea and broth. 
  • The idea is to: Protect exposed skin, reduce drastic temperature swings, take control of your internal thermostat.
  • Clothing layers, fabrics, and brands are lengthy topics with endless opinions. Don't overthink it. You likely have enough to get started. Through time you will figure out what to upgrade.

Car Camping

Car camping can be one of the most comfortable ways to enjoy the outdoors. Carrying far more gear than your rickety back, you can pull right up to your campsite and unload. This camping style is more forgiving than hiking into the backcountry, but it can be an art in and of itself. 

Here are three tips to have a more enjoyable Car Camping experience:

1. Don't Overpack

  • It's tempting to pile your car full of gear for every possible, though unlikely, scenario. But this should be avoided like a cheap buffet.   
  • The tension of clutter will replace your mind's temporary ease. You will spend half your holiday rifling through piles of clothes and the other half cursing the chaos. 

Pro-Tips to Reduce the Clutter: Ask yourself how necessary the item is before packing it! Look for unnecessary redundancies in clothing & gear (ex. 3 jackets of the same warmth is a waste of space). Plastic totes/bins are great for organizing gear. Compartmentalizing creates smaller haystacks, making it more challenging to lose your needles. 

2. Headlamp > Lantern

  • If you can only pick one, choose the headlamp. Midnight bathroom runs and kitchen prep are much more manageable with focused light and two free hands.  
  • Strap a headlamp around a clear water jug for those moments when a lantern is more desirable.

Pro-Tip for Choosing a Headlamp: We recommend headlamps with a redlight option. They help your eyes stay better adjusted to the dark, attract fewer insects, and make it easier to read maps. smaller haystacks, making it more challenging to lose your needles.

3. Meal Prep

  • Cooking outdoors is magical. The prep and cleanup are not.  
  • Reduce your headaches by pre-cutting veggies and marinating meat at home. Toss them on the grill when you arrive at camp, and relax.
  • If you want to make it even easier, cook your meals at home and store them in your cooler. Backpackers will need to be more careful without refrigeration.

Pro-Tip for Delicious, Low-Fuss Meals: Hobo dinners are tasty and easy to clean up. Wrap your ingredients in aluminum foil and cook over fire. 

Wild Camping

Wild camping can be one of the most rewarding types of outdoor experiences. Self-reliance, adventure, and unspoiled nature are accessible to all levels. Novice and experienced adventurers alike should not take the backcountry lightly. The reward is high. But help is farther and the consequences greater.

Here are three tips for a safer and more enjoyable Wild Camping Experience:

1.  Notify People

  • Before you jog off into the mountains, notify your loved ones and park officials of your plans. Some parks require hikers to sign in and out of trailhead log books.
  • Other options include:
    Stopping into the park's office.
    Leaving a note on your car's dashboard.
  • Sending a text of your intended route, destination, timeline, and group size. 
  • The idea is to create a fail-safe. In the unlikely event something serious happens, rescue efforts can resume much faster and have a better idea of where you might be.

Pro-Tip :Though not essential, satellite messaging devices (e.g., Spot) allow communication from almost anywhere. Something to consider, especially for your hard chargers. 

2. Trowel and Bidet 

  • Eventually, your bowels will move in the backcountry. But nobody should celebrate the sight of soiled toilet paper fluttering in the breeze. It's nature's metaphorical surrender.
  • If there are restrooms, use them. If not, use a trowel to dig a cat hole. Some natural areas require you to pack out your waste in wag bags.
  • While not a topic for polite society, proper disposal of human waste is critical to preserving wild spaces and reducing the spread of diseases and bacteria. The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide a digestible framework to protect nature. Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly goes into specific details. 

Pro-Tips for Your Backcountry Bathroom Bag: The portable bidet is underappreciated. Cleaner = less chafing. The silicone tip fits most standard water bottles, creating an easy-to-use backend spritzer. I’d still bring TP. Store TP in a proper dry bag to avoid soggy disappointment. Ziplocs are a cheap alternative. Use hand sanitizer with a clip for easy access.

2. Maps & Compass

  • As the adage goes, "Rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it." A map and compass are in that category.
  • Some tech-focused hikers will roll their robotic eyes at this prehistoric practice. "That's what GPS is for, you troglodyte!" they'd say.
  • Bring your GPS or hiking app. Just have a paper map and compass as a backup. Hopefully you’ll never need it. But you'll have a safety redundancy if your batteries run dead or you crack your screen. 

Pro-Tips : Have a basic idea of how to read a map. Orienting yourself is essential to getting back on track. 

Cold Camping

Most people shy away from Cold Weather Camping, which is a shame. If prepared, it can be a comfortable playground. Not to mention, way fewer people!

Here are three tips for a better Cold Weather Camping experience: 

1. Core Warmth

Cold hands and feet? Warm that core up. It may sound like an oxymoron, but it's backed by science. The warmer your core is, the more blood your heart will pump to your extremities. Other than physical movement, your best option is a down vest. Down vests are a staple for outdoor enthusiasts. They pack easily, provide an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio, and seamlessly integrate with any layering system.

Pro-tip: Battery-powered heated vests can be a game changer for those staying stationary in camp. They are not recommended for backcountry camping due to the battery weight and inability to recharge without power.

2. Protect Battery Life

We generally spend time outside to get away from modern life but let's face it, we rely on electronics. Phones help you navigate the trail. External battery packs recharge your headlamp. In those terms, battery life can be critical.

  • Cold saps battery power
  • Keep your phone/battery against your body, not your outside pockets.
  • Sleep with your phone/battery in your sleeping bag.

Pro-Tip to Save Battery: Switch your phone to Low Battery or Airplane Mode to preserve battery life.

3.  Natural Barriers for Shelters

Pro-tip: Large trees can provide shelter from the elements, but you must check for "widowmakers." These large, often dead, branches appear ready to snap. If they do, they’ll crush anything below. 

Camping with Children

Camping with your children can be wonderful. It's an opportunity to expand experiences and connect as a family. Easing young campers into the outdoors is essential to avoid creating negative associations. Keeping them engaged but not pushing comfort levels too far is a delicate balance. Each age group presents its opportunities and challenges, but the following tips will cover most.

1.  Games

  • The types of games will depend on the age group, but this can be anything from a scavenger hunt, board games, tag, or sports.

2. Portable Power Stations

  • It pains me to say, but sometimes a movie or a video game is the quickest path to peace and quiet. But that requires power.
  • Portable Power Stations come in a dizzying array of capacities and prices. Though not essential, they open up a world of possibilities for tech usage anywhere.

3. Make It Interactive

  • Camping presents an opportunity for enrichment.
  • The natural environment is a wonder, especially for children experiencing the world from a fresh lens.
  • Books on animals, birds, bugs, plants, fungi, and geology create engagement with the natural surroundings. These subjects also present opportunities for scavenger hunts and other games.

Pro-Tip for Making Camping More Interactive: As mentioned earlier, The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are vital to protecting our land and water. Teach your kids these important lessons through practice. Allow your kids to take ownership of improving the world around them. The impact will be far reaching.

See You Out There;
This advice is from years of experience, mishaps, and missteps. Take them, modify them, and make them your own. 

About The Writer: 

Talking and writing about the outdoors and adventures is at the heart of Trevor’s ethos. Travelling 35 countries and counting, Trevor is a camping and hiking enthusiast. Whether it's hiking 900 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail or spending 8 months on a motorcycle through South America; Trevor has seen, lived and written more than some of us can ever imagine. Find out more about Trevor’s experience here and follow his blog To read more great blogs written by Trevor for our partners Outdoor Roadie click here.

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