Spring Camping and How to Avoid the Biggest Pitfalls

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews
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The sun’s shining, the birds are singing and your mind is already wandering to your local campsite. Spring is certainly an ideal time for camping, thanks to its mild weather and eye-catching foliage.

Still, despite the cheery weather, there are plenty of things that can go wrong on an outdoor expedition. Fortunately, we’ve made a list of the most common issues that campers have while adventuring in the spring. With the right amount of preparation, you can avoid them and have an epic adventure, whether you’re getting away for the weekend or spending months in the wild.

Pack Appropriately

Overpacking is a common mistake among camping newbies. Avoid an achy back by packing only what’s essential for a weekend or week away. This list typically includes the following:

• Tent that’s just big enough to house everyone
• Sleeping bag
• Mat to keep moisture out of your sleeping bag
• Change(s) of clothes
• Rain jacket and other gear in case of inclement weather
• Toiletries and toilet paper
• First-aid kit
• Cooking equipment
• Water bottle
• Food that’s lightweight and easy to transport, such as rice, tea, powdered milk, etc.
• Tools, including a flashlight

If you plan on transporting your camping gear in a small trailer hitched to your vehicle, you will also want to be careful that the weight of the trailer is suitable for the type of vehicle you’re using. I’ve seen people driving down the road with seemingly very heavy trailers hitched to nothing but a sedan; it always looks like an accident waiting to happen.

Find Higher Ground

Springtime brings sun, sure, but it also brings some pesky showers. Keep this in mind as you choose your campsite – you don’t want to be sitting or sleeping at the bottom of a hill or mountain when rain starts to fall. You should also avoid bodies of water that might overflow with heavy rain. It might be a bit more work to climb to your campsite, but it’s worth it to stay warm and dry.

Know Your Foliage

Beautiful flowers burst forth in spring, but so do dangerous plants like poison ivy, oak and sumac. Campground staffers should be able to tell you whether or not these plants grow on the premises. If you’re trekking solo, be sure to study the look of each one of these plants and avoid anything that seems suspicious. In the off chance that your preparation fails you, have a soothing lotion like calamine on hand in order to calm the inflammation.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat …

There are plenty of dangers when there’s an open flame around, and your campsite will most likely center around one. Ensure the fire you build is well-contained within a ring of large rocks, for example, so that it doesn’t spread and hurt you or the surrounding natural area. You should also make sure that you have enough water to put it out when you’re finished cooking or telling ghost stories.

Even if you’re not planning on building a fire, you can still get burned while camping. That’s because the sun – even in the springtime – can cause damage to your skin. It’s easy to prevent, though: Slather on plenty of sunscreen, wear sunglasses and sunhats, and wear the longest sleeves and pants that you can handle in the spring heat.

Avoid Unfriendly Animals

After a winter’s worth of hibernation, many animals make their debut in springtime. This means you’ll have to be extra cautious as to avoid any run-ins with unwanted guests. The best way to do so is to leave your campsite as clean and neat as possible. Any open containers of food or trash receptacles will be bait for pesky raccoons. While they’re most likely to dig through your scraps, eat them and be gone, you’ll still have a huge mess to clean up.

Worst case scenario: Your campsite will attract bears, moose or other dangerous wildlife. That isn’t the ideal memory to take home from your first camping trip of the year, now is it?

Do you have any interesting camping stories or camping tips? Share them in the comments section below!

Image by Christopher Michel

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