Camping may be a staple of the summer months, but with a bit of extra prep you can comfortably head into the woods well into October and beyond. It’s beautiful this time of year, with the foliage in transformation and the smell of a new season in the air.
But, you’re right, it is colder. And wetter. And generally less habitable.
Scared? Don’t be. At least, don’t be if you’ve got the gear and know how listed below.
We’ve tracked down the best tips, tricks and products to keep you dry, safe, warm and having a blast on your freezing camping adventure.
Stay dry to stay happy
Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many soggy campers you meet in the fall months. And remember, a soggy camper is an unhappy camper. Nature will do her best to slobber all over you, soaking you and your backup pair of socks right down to the core. Be prepared with a reliable outer layer and a waterproof bag. (Pro tip: choose a raincoat that hangs low and covers some of your legs, too.)
Wool = Warmth
Simple, but oh-so important: pack properly. We suggest stuffing in lots of wool (sweaters, socks, blankets), to keep you warm even if it gets damp.
That old adage about heat exiting through the head…
…may not be all that true (we actually don’t lose more heat from our heads than other body parts), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clothe your noggin. If it’s not quite toque weather, bring a hat that provides shade, shelter from the wind and rain and keeps your thinker nice and toasty.
Layers on layers (and keep them ALL dry)
When it comes to finding the right outfit for fall temperature, it’s best to have options. Pack more smaller items rather than your Canada Goose. Layer up when you’re chilly, and down when you’re warm–and pack it all away in your waterproof bag.
Get on the hot lunch program
Plan on cooking hot meals, either over a fire or over a camping stove. (If you’re going out in a vehicle, something basic will do They go a long way in keeping you warm. Keep breakfast or lunch warmer for longer in a thermos that you can throw in your bag without worrying about a leak.
Don’t let Jack Frost nip at your toes while in your tent. Slip out of your high-quality outside boots and into these high-quality inside boots.
Fire: man’s best friend, but not your coat’s
Build a fire, by all means, but don’t ruin your best coat over it. Opt for an outer layer that can stand against the cold and an errant ember. Or that you don’t mind getting a hole burned in.
Hot in the sack
When it comes to the sleeping arrangement, don’t take any shortcuts. If there’s even a chance that the weather will be dipping below zero, make sure you’re prepared with an insulated sleeping bag (and pad) with the proper thermal rating.
Give us shelter
As important as the blanket you’re under and the pad you’re on is the tent you’re in. First of all, it’s got to be light so you can get it into your campsite (the best ones are tucked secretly away in the back of the campgrounds, right next to the river), and it’s got to be environmentally appropriate, meaning it’ll stand up to the elements.