Camp Tricks

Planning Next Season’s First Camping Trip

May 26, 2017

Stansport Tent

There’s nothing like your first time…of camping season. Hopefully there will be plenty of camping trips this summer, but the first kicks off the season, so let’s make sure it leaves a good impression.

Planning Ahead
Hopefully you’re not too far from the forest, the mountains, the beach, or wherever you may camp and can do some scouting. As the weather warms up, and the trails dry out, you can always take a day and scope out other areas. Any excuse to get out in the wild is a good one but this one is not just goofing off, that’s what work is for; this is important. While some folks have their regular spots, others prefer to explore different areas every year. Some advance scouting can help you determine exactly where you’re going —very handy info if you have others you’re meeting.

Planning Ahead
If you stay in established campgrounds, whether in State Parks, on National Forest land or at a commercial site, you must often make reservations. One of the biggest sites to do this is, which covers thousands of sites all across the U.S. including state parks and more. For National Parks you can also use the site at . If you aren’t nearby to check it out yourself and don’t have a recommended site, you can always use or any other satellite sites after you pick your campground and research further to pick just the right spot.

Supply Check
What do batteries, propane, matches and garlic salt all have in common? Chances are you are low on one or all of these. Now you may not use propane, or maybe even batteries or matches, but nobody goes camping without garlic salt do they? Now is a good time to check all your supplies. At you’ll find a free, printable checklist detailing everything you could possibly need.

Equipment Check
What shape was that tent in when you packed it up at the end of last season? Was it wet? Did the zippers all work? Chances are you may not remember so now is a good time to set that tent up in case there are problems. While you’re at it, unroll those sleeping bags. Not only are you checking for rips, tears or faulty zippers, but you can never air those things out enough.

Dress for Success
I don’t know about your camping trips, but on mine, no one looks like they just stepped out of an L.L Bean catalog. Camp clothes get trashed and filthy and sometimes I don’t think of that far enough in advance. My camp style leans more towards thrift store chic so a quick trip to Goodwill or the Salvation Army will do just fine, especially for the outer layer like jackets or sweatshirts that get dirty the most. If you don’t plan for this, you may end up having to take your nice stuff and end up with a funky smoke smelling, charcoal-covered, ripped up, muddy $400 REI jacket.

Hang With the Right Crowd
We all have busy schedules these days, making it hard to get groups together. That’s why picking a spot and a date early, along with considering a reservation in a park or a campground, is so important. Not many people will go camping at the drop of hat, as I’ve discovered when I’ve tried to get big groups together. Either that or it’s all the garlic salt I use.

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