How To Have Your Greatest Tenting Journey Ever

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PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN: MARISSA DICKSON

These days we all want to pack our bags and get out of town, but we may not be ready to fly internationally. Camping in a nearby state or national park is one of the best ways to combat that wanderlust. For those new to camping (or just not since they were kids) allow us a refresher. Camping as an adult is a lot more fun, mostly because you can bring adult drinks with you. So pack a tent, mix in your favorite Ocean spray® cocktail in a thermos and read our guide to a successful trip.

Check the local rules

With mask regulations, trail and store openings, and travel restrictions in a patchwork state across the country, there is some initial research you need to do while setting up your itinerary. Certain public campsites, especially hikers’ cabins, may still be closed to visitors. Your local trail or park website should have information with major trail systems like Appalachian Trail posting regular updates on COVID and other safety precautions. After that, still validate yourself with a local who knows the area you want to camp in: etiquette can matter more than anything. Nobody wants to get the stink-eye for not wearing a mask on a crowded trail.

Rely on glamping

Glamping means that instead of walking into the wilderness with everything you need on your back, you can post in a preset yurt, trailer, or other beginner-friendly site. While dedicated hikers and backpackers turn up their noses, it’s perfect for people learning the ropes. Instead of buying a new set of ultralight gear and trekking for three days, load up the car and bring your inflatable mattress. Remember: camping is about having fun. If that means bringing an extra load of cocktails, so be it.

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN: MARISSA DICKSON

Find the perfect place

Choosing the right location is the most important part of a good campsite atmosphere, so choose carefully. That National Park Service can help you find a location as they map all of their camp-friendly parks (each with their own map). There is of course no shortage of guides, regardless of whether you are out and about Glamping or want a location-specific list (as in NYC or Denver, for example). Other important considerations on where to pitch your tent when you have a location in mind: Avoid hills – it gets windy at the top, the ground gets wet, and the slope makes you roll in your sleeping bag. Minimize your sun and wind exposure by having some trees above your head and make sure you are far enough away from the cooking areas. The last thing you want is a curious creature looking for food or a stray embers near your tent.

Simplify fire start

If you can start a fire with flint and tinder – respect. For the rest of us, toss a lighter in your backpack. You don’t have to make this harder for yourself. Better yet, bring a tealight candle to light the fire or dry some fluff for tinder. After that, it’s about starting small. Start with extremely dry bark, leaves or stems in a loose ball, then thin twigs (again the drier the better), then sticks, then build up into tree trunks. Remember to position your logs in a cone shape for maximum exposure to the flames and make sure you have good airflow. You will have a blazing fire before you know it.

Store your supplies properly

Bears in honey are a worst-case scenario. Or rather chipmunks. For proper food storage, check local campsite rules (these will depend on the wildlife in your area). National and private parks often have “bear safes” at campsites, so use them unless you want to wake up to backpack holes that have been buried by squirrels. Look into bear canisters or other animal-resistant bags in the hinterland. The old system of hanging a bag on a tree is out of date as it is usually ineffective against a determined hatchling. For liquids, make sure all of your containers are sealed. And bring enough smaller containers with you, otherwise you will drag 2-liter bottles up the mountain. That means taking small versions of your favorites like Ocean Spray® Cran-Mango ™ with you, perfect refreshment at the summit.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN: MARISSA DICKSON

Go big on the food

Speaking of food, camp food is a rare opportunity to cook over an open fire, so make the most of it. A simple rule of thumb is about 2 pounds of food per person per day, with more if you’re doing a strenuous activity like backpacking. Make sure the supply contains a variety of vegetables, protein, and fruits, as well as snacks. Bring hot dogs if you want, but it’s more fun making a large meal over the fire, such as cooking this lingonberry pineapple chicken that can be marinated in the cooler before setting up camp. This also applies to cocktails. Bring a premixed jug with a divisible option like one Ocean spray® summer spritzer – It packs well and is perfect for cooling off after a long day of camp building.

Make room for things that improve your comfort

Certain things go very far on a camping trip. Sunscreen and bug spray are some of the cheapest ways to keep your vacation from being ruined. Another point that brings a lot: the lighting. A good headlamp makes your life a lot easier when the sun goes down, but think of other options such as hanging lightbulbs or an inflatable solar lantern. Another nice article: flexible cutting boards. They give you a lot more space to work so that your groceries don’t end up in the dirt.

Hug new friends

Camping follows the timeless rule that experiencing adversity together builds strong friendships. Hiking in the mountains, making a tricky fire and cooking in the dark will help you get to know each other. It’s also the best time to tell scary stories as you are miles away from civilization. Campfire games like Mafia, Charades or Never Have I Ever may sound clichéd, but they bring people closer. And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to sing campfire songs everyone knows. It may take some persuasion, but once the cocktails are flowing and the fire is roaring, your shyest friends will join in too.

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