Camping in the Fall is great way to extend your outdoor adventures into the cooler months, while enjoying some gorgeous fall scenery. Too cold, you say? Don’t fret. With a little extra preparation, you can secure plenty more star-filled nights well into the Autumn season.
To help you get out there, we’ve put together tips for making your fall camping trips a success.
Locate an awesome destination. Visit Recreation.gov to find a place near you with all the fall recreation opportunities you are looking for. Many of the great places we’re working to conserve also provide ample opportunity for fall camping adventures.
Target reduced fee camp sites. One advantage of camping in autumn is that public lands like state parks and national forests may have reduced entrance fees after Labor Day. Check with individual forests and campgrounds to find out.
Bring a mix of clothing for layering. Layering is the key to staying comfortable while camping in fall. Pack layers of breathable, water-resistant clothing. Wool, fleece and synthetic materials will help keep you warm and dry. Avoid cotton clothing. If you’re backpacking, just be aware that extra clothes add additional weight. Some essential items include:
• thermal underwear, or base layers with moisture wicking properties
• fleece jacket, wool shirt/sweater or other synthetic layer for warmth
• wind and water resistant outer jacket
• winter cap — for daytime use and for sleeping
• gloves/mittens, plus an extra pair in case first pair gets wet
• winter jacket (even if the weather is predicted to be warm)
• sturdy boots, with waterproof membrane
• extra shoes and plenty of extra dry socks
• rain poncho and rain pants
• plenty of changes of clothing so that you can dry out damp clothing when needed
Layer up. As with any cool weather recreation, layers are essential to keeping warm. You’ll want to start with a base layer, such as a wicking thermal underwear to keep moisture away from your skin. Then add a layer for warmth, and finally a breathable, windproof outer layer to keep heat from escaping.
Stock up on firewood. Dry firewood can become scarce in Autumn. As long as there are no burn restrictions in your campsite area, pack your own wood so you don’t have to risk going without a cozy fire.
Be prepared for rain. Invest in a good backpack with a rain cover. You can also line your backpacks with plastic garbage bags to keep out moisture. Bring extra plastic garbage bags and plastic baggies for protecting other items, such as electronics. Also bring water tight-containers. And finally, don’t forget to bring extra tarps that you can hoist and tie above eating or gathering areas to provide shelter from rain.
Sip on a hot cup o’ something. Bring an insulated cup for everyone in your party and use it for sipping on a hot beverage or hot soup throughout the day. This will help increase your internal temperature.
Move around. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. If you are cold during the day, don’t sit around. Get up and move around. Go for a short hike, walk the campground, start working on the next meal, etc.
Leave more time for cooking. Cooking times are longer in low temperatures. Plan to rise early to heat warm liquids to sip for keeping warm throughout the day.
Be prepared for shorter days. Be aware of when the sun sets and be sure to allow yourself extra time to arrive at your campsite before dark
Make a survival kit. Here’s some survival kit essentials:
• headlamp and/or flashlight
• bandanna (acts as water sifter, breathing mask, makeshift bag, emergency flag, bandage)
• waterproof matches
• tinfoil (doubles as reflector to signal)
• water purification tablets (iodine can also be mixed with water for a sterilizing solution for wounds)
• small roll of duct tape
• toilet paper (doubles as trail marker)
• Vaseline-soaked cotton balls (fire starter and salve)
• a small bag to carry all of these in your pocket (rather than in a backpack you could lose)
Also be sure to bring:
• first aid supplies
• extra water and food
• a map of the area
• a compass and/or GPS