What’s your camping personality?
Most of us are drawn to the energy, innocence and mysteries of nature, soothed by its rhythm, often humbled by its power. We’d like to get closer but, hey, it’s wild out there and we’re not.
Camping offers great possibilities. Plan it out on your terms—with modern comforts to boot—and watch how the idea of this escape becomes alluring to even those who say they don’t think so.
It’s useful however to pinpoint each other’s apprehensions. Enthusiasts agree it does indeed take vigilance to keep safe among the laws of nature, so making adjustments for newcomers is a timely reminder to review your safety checklist.
First-timers need to be realistic as well. In a tent or in a recreational vehicle (RV) most camping experiences entail nearby woodlands in which snakes, rodents and bigger creatures live; constant calls-of-thewild throughout the night; insects sleeping where you sleep; blue sky then black sky, downpours and thunderstorms; hurry-up toilet time, come-what-may grooming time, plus the joys of throwing most privacy to the wind. This is pure adrenalin for some, but a non-starter for others.
But then again, you might. If so, camping will surely embrace your personality be it hesitant, careful, turned on or wild. Whether you want a tent or an RV, here’s how others like you have done it.
But you’re also a good sport, so follow the lead of the enthusiasts and tap your own resourcefulness as well:
Tenting: Expect cool nights of interrupted sleep improved by extra blankets and the best insulated sleeping bag you can afford; extra comfort with your own (not shared) high-quality air mattress; and extra soothing with noise-blocking earplugs.
RV: Cocooning in a fully-equipped recreational vehicle resolves many beginner anxieties as it provides a real bed, a shield from animals and thunderstorms, lavatory privacy and more. Extra blankets, warm clothes and earplugs are also fine ideas.
Gadgets and Gear: Bring items to keep insects, bears and other animals away. This starts with a dedicated plan for food and garbage control. As well, certain noisemakers may deter animals and special lighting can repel insects. From Coghlan’s, consider placing the Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer on your belt. And to light your campsite, the Trailblazer Camp Lantern (from Thermacell) effectively discourages mosquitoes, black flies and other biting insects.
This is the trait of parents, eco-hawks and those who are looking to improve the glitches experienced last time, such as:
Tenting: To increase warmth, some tents offer optional insulation—and for families, a multi-room tent allows for increased privacy. Or, some campers add a pop-up tent nearby as a dedicated “bathroom.”
RV: Map out your trip, pinpoint campground possibilities (private and public), and book ahead during peak periods. Parks Canada at pc.gc.ca is an authoritative guide and, if you’re going to the United States, so is the site Visittheusa.ca.
Gadgets and Gear: Certified biodegradable soaps reduce the grey water caused by washing up; dispose of it at least 60 metres away from waterways. Campsites are equipped with porta-potties, but tent campers often bring their own efficient models. To add some bathroom privacy, take a look at pop-up cabanas like those by Ancheer or Gigatent.
You feel that tug of the wilderness every spring and each time you crave to stay out longer and go farther afield. If you plan to camp overseas or across the border, be sure to learn the camping regulations in your destination, especially the allowable places to park an RV or to pitch a tent. Other finetuning precautions might include:
Tenting: Prevent flooding. Rainstorms could cause it and so could the overflow of nearby waterways. Be sure to pitch your tent on a flat-ground clearing at least 30 metres from any shoreline, and inside, lay a waterproof ground cloth. During thunderstorms, the safest place is in your car.
RV: It’s easy to overload the big rig, so for
road safety do keep weight, balancing and height regulations in mind and check the tire pressure frequently. If you don’t want to be tied to any schedule, find out if and where you can stop overnight without a campsite. For example, with prior permission some Walmart retailers in North America allow RVS to park on their lots.
Gadgets and Gear: In case of leaky seams in the tent, bring a quick-fix water sealer like Outwell Seam Guard. And, prepare for mishaps or emergencies by wearing a waterproof, multifunctional survival bracelet. Compare makes and models online. Worn upon your wrist, many military-style bracelets offer a compass, knife, fire starter, an LED light and more.
If you crave all the challenges of sharing the land and testing your survival skills, you might consider “wild camping,” an adventure for the minimalist. Enthusiasts often include backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, cycling or motor biking. Roughing it can be the ultimate freedom as long as you adhere to private property and environmental laws. Tenting: Your sleeping protection needs to be lightweight, durable and waterproof, so money spent on this is a wise investment. Off-the-ground “hammock” tents hung from tree to tree are inviting for the courageous and the newest models focus on body ergonomics for sleep-comfort improvement.
RV: Your personality may prefer the freedom of boondocking in which you locate permissible places to park overnight with no cost, no hookups, nor assistance. It requires careful consumption of your water and energy resources and fellow boondockers regularly share tips and experiences on websites like your-rv-lifestyle.com.
Gadgets and Gear: For extra safety, think ahead about controlling your campfire especially during sudden winds, a task made easier with kits like Campfire Defender Pro. And, you may be wild but you’re not naturally immune to the consequences of getting (and staying) soaked. Improve your defences with upgraded clothing and gear, all of which is discussed on sites such as allthingswaterproof.com and my.scouting.org.
TOP: RV campers relax at the Prior Centennial Campground on Pender Island, B.C. © Parks Canada/fritz Mueller ABOVE: Campers can expect wildlife encounters. Brand USA
OPPOSITE LEFT: Enjoying a campfire at sunset at the Cavendish Campground in Prince Edward Island National Park. © Parks Canada/scott Munn