How to Prepare for a Late Season Camping Trip
The first thing to do for any camping trip is to plan where to go and what gear needs to go with you. The tricky thing about late-season camping is the relatively high chance of your trip happening on a cooler-than-average weekend.
Late season camping trips can be the best or worst of your off-the-beaten-track outings, but you won't know until you go. So, plan before you take your trip, and your chance of having a good time will be much greater.
Ground Cloths and Tarps
Did you know that sleeping directly on the ground can drain your body of heat? Placing a ground cloth or a tarp between the ground and your tent can help to protect your body heat, just make sure the cloth or tarp is a little larger than you tent.
To avoid having a wet tent bottom with the cold and dewy nights you’ll want to make sure you build a reinforced, waterproof floor (or purchase a tent that comes with one). You can also add some additional layers between you and the tent floor to further protect your body heat.
Tarps can also be used as windbreaks for your campsite’s cooking and seating area.
A light summer tent, a tarp, or a personal-sized tent is sufficient for a night in nature in warm weather. However, when the temperature begins to drop, you will need a heavier tent to be comfortable during late-season camping.
Sleeping Bags – Types And Weights
Like tents, sleeping bags are sold by type and weight. These features include:
Rectangular sleeping bags
Rectangular sleeping bags are the classic style of a sleeping bag. Two of the same type and size can often be zipped together to form a two-person full-size sleeping bag.
Mummy sleeping bags
This type of sleeping bag is tapered to fit your body. It also wraps around your head, which keeps in body heat. Like rectangular sleeping bags, mummy bags come in different lengths and widths to fit different body types.
Sleeping bag weights
Each type of sleeping bag has a temperature rating. Sleeping bags for lighter weather will have less filling and will be thinner than ones made for colder weather.
Sleeping Pads And Air Mattresses
Using a sleeping pad or air mattress with your sleeping bag will increase your comfort. By keeping your body isolated from the ground, you can more easily stay warm.
Shoes For Outdoor Comfort
Hiking shoes or boots are often waterproof, and the protection of several inches of the shoe above your ankle is best when hiking and camping. In addition, the added length of the shaft helps keep water from getting into your shoe while supporting your ankles.
You don't necessarily need waterproof shoes, but they are a good idea when you are camping. You will also need dry socks, so pack enough for your trip as there is nothing worse than having to wear wet socks. Two pairs a day and a pair for sleeping will help you stay warm and keep your feet dry, no matter the weather.
Clothes for Late Season Camping Trips
Depending on where you go, camping late in the season can mean you can see a wide range in temperatures. It always helps to check the weather of where you’ll be camping but be prepared for anything and pack accordingly. Consider cold weather camping gear for the colder temperatures and transitional layers in case the temperature warms up. If the weather predicts rain, snow, or ice you’ll also want to make sure you have the right gear on hand to keep you dry and warm.
Layer Your Clothes
Bulky clothes can cause you to get too warm, even when it's cold outside, if you are being active. The best way to stay comfortable is with layers of clothes and a heavier jacket if needed.
Layers can be removed and added very quickly and are the best way to maintain comfort when you are outdoors.
Day Clothes – For When You Are Out And About
Unless you know your trip will be warm and sunny, you need to take a few long and short sleeve shirts, shorts, pants, leggings, and a hat. You’ll also need a light jacket, and a heavier one if it is going to be cold where you are going.
Night Clothes – To Keep You Comfy
Your night clothes also need to be worn in layers. Because no matter how warm your sleeping bag is, if it's cold, once you leave the warmth of your cocoon, the cold will get to you quickly.
Sweat suits, long sleeve t-shirts, or thermal shirts are great to sleep in and will keep you warm once you leave your comfy nest.
Rain Gear – To Keep You Dry
Rain gear can be as simple as a coat and waterproof boots, or you can go all out and wear a full rain suit. Either way, weather can take an unexpected turn, so it’s always best to be prepared and have the gear on hand you need to keep dry.
Essential Camping Equipment List For A Late Season Camping Trip
- Suitable tent
- Tent ground cloth
- Sleeping bag
- Air mattress or foam ground pad
- Cooking gear — an Out-In-About Box™ is a great piece of camping equipment that can store all your camp kitchen essentials so you’re ready to go at a drop of hat.
- Food (healthy, high-energy food, and soups, stews, or chili to keep you warm)
- Sharp knife
- Clothing for warm, cool, and cold weather.
Have an Alternate Plan
Weather forecasts are suitable for a few days out, but accuracy can be questionable two weeks from now. With that in mind, if you have chosen a location for your late season camping trip, keep in mind that cold weather may make it necessary to change plans at the last minute.
It's one thing to go camping when the weather is nippy but camping in a full-blown windstorm is less than fun. So, a backup plan will keep you and your group happy if the weather goes bad.