Camping Hacks for you this summer

VicinityBlog-image-camping-July2015

Camping is an antidote to the stress of modern living. When you crave some real downtime, escaping to the great outdoors with a tent and a pack full of survival essentials is one of the best ways to experience how it feels to be truly “off the grid”, with few distractions other than the wonders of nature. But sleeping in the wild can make even the most experienced campers feel vulnerable. You may know exactly what to pack for a comfortable trip, or how to protect yourself from the elements—yet taking care of every single detail can be overwhelming.
So we’ve pulled together camping tips and advice into four handy categories, to help make your outdoor adventures this summer a breeze. Use the Vicinity app (available on iOS and Android) or search our online locations page to find grocery stores, pharmacies, and outdoor gear shops where you can earn rewards when you purchase the items you need for your camping trip.

  1. Food and drink:
  • Store all food items in sealed containers and keep them out of the hot sun, so they stay cool as long as possible. If you’re using a cooler stored inside your vehicle, make sure to park it in the shade. Don’t keep any food in your tent—it attracts wildlife and insects. If you’re camping in bear country, take extra precautions with food by using bear-proof containers (many campgrounds provide these) or by stringing your food bag up high, between two trees.
  • Freeze 2L jugs of water and keep them in your food cooler. As they defrost, drink the water to keep hydrated. A jug of water can also double as a camp lantern—just put a headlamp on it with the light angled towards the jug. The liquid and opaque plastic will diffuse a soft glow that lights up your whole tent.
  • Forget about boring freeze-dried fare. Instead, cook a few of your favourite one-pot meals, freeze them in vacuum-sealed packages, and stow them in your cooler or food pack until it’s time to warm them up over your camp stove. Make sure to set your stove on low heat, so you don’t scald the bottom of the pot.
  • Canned curry sauce (available at most well-stocked grocery stores) is the ultimate camping meal enhancer. It’s easy to carry—one tin as opposed to multiple spice packets—and perfect with rice, quinoa, veggies, and meat.
  • If you like your morning coffee or tea sweet and milky, take along a tin of sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar and milk powder. Stir a few spoonfuls into your hot beverage and enjoy! Stow the open tin in a sealed plastic container (an old yogurt tub is perfect).
  • If you want to cook over your campfire, be sure to cook over the coals—don’t plunge your food directly into the flames. Build your fire, and then rake some hot coals to one side beneath a suspended grill grate. You can also wrap certain foods (baked potatoes; whole mushrooms with butter, onion and garlic; hollowed-out orange halves filled with cake mix) in tinfoil and cook them by placing the foil packets into the hot coals of your campfire.
  1. Clothing:
  • Pack or wear enough layers so in the event that you unexpectedly have to sleep outside, you will be warm through the night. Layers insulate much better than heavy outerwear. Plus they’re easier to don or shed as the temperature changes.
  • Bring rain gear with you. A waterproof coat, pants and hiking boots worn with wool socks can function as layers (see above) and also keep you relatively dry in a downpour.
  • You should have sun protection clothing with long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim to cover your face, ears, and neck. Keep the most sun-exposed parts of your body covered as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to pack sunglasses that protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Pack your clothes and other personal gear in stuff sacks inside your pack. This helps you quickly empty your pack, find what you need, and re-pack without digging around and causing a mess in your tent.
  1. Shelter:
  • If you plan to do lots of camping, invest in the best quality sleeping bag, padded ground mat, and waterproof tent you can afford.
  • Choose high, flat ground to you pitch your tent; nestling into an indentation might put you in the middle of a puddle if it rains.
  • Put a waterproof tarp underneath your tent and fold the ends under so no tarp is sticking out; otherwise it will funnel rainwater underneath your tent. Set up a tarp over your tent, too, even if you have a rain fly. This provides extra rain protection because water runs off the sloped sides of the tarp.
  • Inside, keep all your stuff away from the sides of the tent. Water will drip through anywhere something makes contact with the walls.
  • Always zip up your tent upwards so your zipper pull-tabs are high off the ground. This prevents dexterous, curious wildlife (like raccoons) from sneaking into your tent in search of food.
  • Set up an outdoor kitchen underneath a separate tarp, next to your tent. This provides a sheltered area where you can stand up and move around while you cook. And if it rains, you’re not stuck inside the tent—you have another space where you can hang out.
  1. Other stuff you might forget:
  • Always pack a proper first aid kit in a watertight container. Make sure it holds the following items:
  • Assorted adhesive bandages
  • Roll bandages (gauze)
  • Large triangular bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Painkillers
  • Antiseptic
  • Soap
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Blister care
  • Safety pins
  • Three-day supply (minimum) of any prescription medications you’re taking
  • Few things beat a crackling fire when you’re camping. But not every place you visit will have fire-building necessities at your disposal. You may be able to purchase firewood nearby if it’s not available at your campsite. Or you may have to bring your own. To get the fire going quickly, bring your own fire-starters made of cotton pads soaked in wax, or egg cartons stuffed with dryer lint and coated in wax then light them underneath your kindling and firewood.
  • Make sure to bring waterproof matches and a fire striker, which are more reliable than lighters or regular matches. Not only will these start your fire (see above), you will need them to light your camp stove.
  • Sun protection is a necessity no matter where you camp or what the weather conditions are like. SPF 30 sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays is the standard.
  • Pack a flashlight, headlamp and extra batteries; toilet paper; and cooking essentials like a can opener, bottle opener, pot holders, tongs, tin foil, and ziplock baggies.

5 comments

  1. Diana   •  

    Thank you. There are some good ideas there. Be careful about taking wood with you, though, as many parks will not allow you to bring in wood from specific areas (you could be bringing in something that will infect local trees). Also, don’t count on being able to cook over a fire. Often during the summer, fires are banned in areas that have not had much rain. Make sure that you have an alternate way of cooking.

  2. Ashley   •  

    Also keep in mind that interior campsites ban cans and glass containers. Look into platypus bags or other plastic containers to bring any drinks or canned food!

  3. Cathy Beaulieu   •  

    Thank you Diane, I love the out doors, your letter reminds me on the importance of being prepared. This is the best way to enjoy your out door adventure and minimize the fear of the wild..
    Your next letter may a list or a story on places you have camped at and your take on the experience. :)
    Kind regards?
    Cathy Beaulieu

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