Fall Camping Tips
Tips for Fall Camping With the Whole Family
When many people are packing up after the long summer season, others head out for some of the best camping of the year. As the weather cools, you can enjoy genuine quality time spent with your family and friends. Fall is a prime season for wildlife spotting and enjoying the outdoors without the hassle of bugs. Fall can also be one of the most beautiful seasons for viewing foliage, as trees burst with bright orange, yellow and red. There is nothing quite like camping in autumn, when warm days hiking and fishing fade into cool, crisp evenings gathered around a crackling campfire.
If you have never tried camping in the fall, we highly recommend giving it a shot this year. Our guide to fall camping will provide everything you need to know about the right clothing and gear to keep you and your family comfortable during your fall camping adventure. We will also throw in some fall camping tips for making delicious seasonal campfire food and finding fun activities for the whole family.
What to Pack for Fall Camping
Weather in fall can fluctuate quickly from warm and sunny to cool and wet. While it is hard to predict how the weather might change from day to day, you can prepare for anything by packing smart. When planning your fall camping clothing, make sure to bring a variety of layers so you can adapt to the weather and stay comfortable.
Start with a base layer made of light and breathable fabric that keeps your core insulated and warm. Choose a material that wicks away moisture to keep you dry, such as wool, polyester, fleece, nylon or silk. Never wear cotton clothing for your base layer, as it absorbs sweat and moisture and will only make you feel colder.
Mid-layers and Outer Layers
When choosing your mid-layers, pack a few different options so you can adjust to the changing temperatures, such as fleeces, sweaters and light jackets. Be sure to bring a good outer layer that is wind and water-resistant. Bringing rain gear, such as a poncho or rain jacket and pants, is also a smart idea for camping in the fall. If your regular hiking boots are not waterproof, you may want to bring a second pair that is.
Remember, heat escapes through your head, so one of the easiest ways to stay warm on chilly days is to wear a warm hat. Toss your favorite beanie in your camping bag in case you really need to bundle up. Your hands and feet can also get cold quickly, so always bring warm gloves or mittens and warm socks that will keep your feet dry. Wool or synthetic materials are a good choice.
Other Clothing Considerations
If you are camping with kids, make sure to invest in quality fall clothing. When kids are growing quickly, it can be tempting to have them wear whatever they already own, but having a waterproof jacket and warm base layer is just as important for kids as it is for you. When your kid does grow out of their hiking gear, you can pass it on to the next child or donate it. Shopping at thrift stores is also a great way to find affordable fall gear for kids, as many other parents have the same idea of giving away clothes after a season or two.
Perhaps the most important tip for packing clothes for fall camping is to always bring extras! If you get caught in a sudden storm and your shoes and socks get drenched, you will be very grateful you brought an extra pair to change into. Bring a backup pair of gloves or mittens and always bring one extra mid-layer. Fall camping can get somewhat cold at night, especially if you are in a tent. You will be happy to be able to bundle up in extra layers, instead of shivering all night.
Fall Camping Clothing Checklist
In summary, here is a quick checklist of what to pack for fall camping for you and your family:
- Warm, moisture-wicking base layer
- A variety of mid-layers
- A water- and wind-resistant jacket
- Rain jacket or poncho and rain pants
- Sturdy, waterproof boots
- A backup pair of sneakers or boots
- A few pairs of warm socks
- A warm beanie or hat
- Gloves or mittens and a backup pair
Fall Camping Gear Checklist
Having the right gear is also essential to making your fall camping trip a success. Whether you are roughing it in a tent or taking it with a little more ease in a cabin, having the right gear to keep will make your trip more enjoyable and protect you from the cold weather.
Here is a fall camping checklist of all the gear you will need to stay warm and comfortable for your trip:
- A good sleeping bag: The best sleeping bag for fall camping will have proper insulation, with a cold tolerance of zero to 30 degrees. Down or imitation down is usually the best option, as it is lightweight, but also a powerful insulator. Always choose a sleeping bag that protects at temperatures lower than what you expect to encounter on your trip for the most comfort. You may also want to bring an extra sleeping bag in case you need to double up. When choosing a sleeping bag for kids, make sure to choose an appropriate size, as a sleeping bag that just fits them will better trap body heat and keep them warm through the night.
- Sleeping pads: If you are camping on the ground, sleeping pads will be your best friend. Not only do they make the ground more comfortable, but they also insulate your body from the cold, which provides better heat retention.
- Wool or down blanket: Wool and down blankets are excellent for keeping you warm and dry, while also being lightweight and easy to travel with. Toss a blanket on top of your sleeping bag on cooler nights, or bundle up inside your sleeping bag for even colder evenings.
- Hot water bottle: Hot water bottles are ideal for a little extra warmth while sleeping. Heat water on your campfire or cookstove to fill your hot water bottle, then place it at the foot of your sleeping bag to keep your toes warm.
- A tent with a rain fly: If you are camping in a tent this fall, make sure to choose a tent with a rain fly. Rain flies prevent your tent from getting wet, as most tents are not waterproof themselves.
- A tarp or two: Bring a tarp to put under the tent to keep it drier so moisture from the earth cannot seep in. You may also want to toss a tarp over your rain fly for additional protection from the weather.
- Plastic bags or baggies: Plastic baggies can protect valuables and electronics from the rain, such as your phone, camera or wallet. You may also want to line your backpack with a trash bag to keep your belongings dry.
- Backpack: Make sure you have a good backpack for carrying your things while hiking or exploring. You may want to invest in a backpack with a rain cover as well.
- Bug spray: One of the benefits of camping in the fall is that there are a lot fewer pesky bugs to deal with. However, it is better to be safe than sorry and grab a can of bug spray. If you are camping near bodies of water, you may still encounter some mosquitoes in the fall.
- Sunscreen: In the cool fall air, it is easy to forget to protect yourself from the sun. However, you can still get sunburned or damage your skin in the fall if you do not use proper protection.Portable light source: Days are shorter in the fall, so it will likely be dark before you are ready to hit the hay. Make sure you have a flashlight, headlamp or lantern for navigating your campsite after dark.
- First-aid kit: A first-aid kit is a must-have safety feature for any camping trip. Scrapes and cuts are a possibility when you are experiencing the great outdoors, no matter the season, so it is always best to be prepared!
Article originally posted on KOA.com