Camping is an experience that refreshes you and leaves you with memories. It is the perfect opportunity to get outdoors, appreciate Nature, spend some time with yourself (or those you love) and also burn some calories.
Whether you are a mountain lover or crave the deep darkness of a rainforest, whether you prefer to camp alone or with your best buddies, it's a joy that can soon turn into an addiction. If you've gone camping once, you will want to go back again.
Packing for a camping trip can be a little tricky. You want to have all the essentials that you need to be comfortable, but don't want to end up with a heavy load. Regardless of where you are going camping, you must pack the right clothes.
Your camping garments are crucial to your comfort, and if you aren't comfortable on your trip, the whole experience is ruined.
Without further ado, let's look at the mistakes you must avoid when choosing your camping garments.
1. Packing too light
When packing for a camping trip, everyone wants to keep the baggage as light as possible (unless you are the princess in Spaceballs – you don’t need a giant hair blower!). When you have gone out to the wild to relax and enjoy, you don't want the hassle of lugging around a backpack that weighs a ton.
Out in the wilderness, there's no Laundromat, so you cannot toss dirty clothes into a wash and get them nice and dry in an hour. Unless you want to end up with a bag full of unclean clothes, you will want to pack light.
But don't make the mistake of packing too light, leaving out various essentials in the process. Consider the climate, the terrain, and the duration of your trip to figure out just how many garments you might need. Worse than a heavy backpack is a bag with too few garments to keep you comfortable.
Don't forget extra items of base clothing, including underwear, and also an extra pair of shoes, in case your current pair dies in the middle of a forest.
If you have experienced the perils of packing too light, for your next camping trip, you will be determined to pack all the garments that you need. You take dozens of underwear, half a dozen jackets, even three pairs of sturdy boots, making sure to not leave out anything. The result? An overpacked bag that weighs a stone.
There's a fine line between packing too light and too much. Before you even start to pack, you must understand that this is a camping trip; you cannot send your backpack to checked baggage and be hands-free, nor can you keep your luggage back at the hotel room while you are and about. On a camping trip, you have to carry your backpack along everywhere.
The key to avoiding both the problems is to plan in advance. Making a checklist is the first step in choosing your camping garments. If you have gone camping earlier, you will have an idea about how many garments you need for a certain number of days.
Consider the weather, the remoteness of the place, and expected surprises when choosing your garments. If you have children with you, don't forget to pack protective clothing to keep them safe and comfortable.
3. Forgetting the essentials
When trying to strike that balance and pack the right number of garments, it is not unusual to forget the most essential items.
These include toothbrushes, underwear and socks, sleepwear, and shoes. There's a huge difference between forgetting the essentials on a normal trip and forgetting them on a camping trip.
For instance, if you forget your phone charger at home, you cannot charge your phone at all in the wilderness. Even if you carry a solar charger, you actually need the phone's charging cable.
If you forget your undergarments, you cannot simply go out and buy a replacement, so you have to spend the whole trip wearing that same pair, even if you get itchy. If you forget the toothbrush, you may have to go around with bad breath for the whole trip. If you forget your DVD of The Force Awakens and/or Thor III – no worries – you are not really missing anything at all but let’s get back on track here.
Even if you decide to forgo certain items to make space in the bag, never leave behind these basic things. This is again why planning is so important ahead of any camping trip. Those who have never gone camping might assume it's just like any other trip. But that's the first blunder you make.
If you forget your waterproof tarp you can't protect the bottom of your tent or protect your tent in the rain. Without this essential piece of equipment, all your other belongings could be ruined by adverse weather conditions.
Whether you decide to go to the top of the mountain or pitch the tent at a festival, remember that camping is a different ballgame altogether. You do not have the conveniences that you may enjoy on other trips. If you aren't prepared with all the essentials, your trip may well turn out to be miserable. Think Trains, Planes, and Automobiles!
4. Choosing the wrong materials
The best camping garments are those made of synthetic or quick-dry materials, which keep you dry as well as comfortable, regardless of the weather. If you bring along the chunky sweatshirts and the thick pair of blue jeans, they will not only take up precious space inside the backpack but also turn out to be utterly useless on the trip.
Thick knits get wet easily and take ages to dry. If you are unable to wear the clothes that you have brought along, they will just be an excess load that you lug around on the trip.
You may be tempted to wear that soft cotton t-shirt, but please don't, because it will only trap sweat and moisture, stay wet and make you uncomfortable. If the temperature drops, the wet clothes can quickly give you the chills.
The best materials for a camping trip are lightweight, soft, and moisture wicking. These materials wick away moisture and keep you feeling dry, no matter how much you sweat.
There are especially moisture wicking garments available, which people use as gym wear. These clothing can also be taken for a camping trip, either as a base layer or the middle layer.
Besides staying dry, synthetic materials like polyester also allow much more breathability, releasing your body heat to keep you cool and comfortable. If you’re camping in cold weather, merino wool is also an excellent choice. It keeps away moisture and odours, and also keeps you warm when it’s cold outside.
Too many also want to bring along both short – and long-sleeve t-shirts, because they are both useful in different conditions. Short sleeves are ideal for layering, but long sleeves offer more protection from the elements, including scratches and sunburns.
5. Picking the wrong garment types
Whether you're navigating through a rainforest, climbing up the hill, or dancing till you drop at a festival, you need to wear the clothes that will keep you comfortable without getting in the way.
This is a mistake several campers make when choosing clothing for the trip. You obviously want comfort, but it doesn't mean you pick the loose t-shirt or the flared pants that you're used to.
Imagine wearing a baggy t-shirt at a festival, which keeps riding down your shoulders while you try to jump and dance. Or imagine navigating through rocks and trees in a flowy skirt, only to have it get tangled on a twig and cause an accident.
Pants and shorts are the best kinds of upper wear that you should bring on a camping trip. Shorts offer the ultimate freedom while keeping you cool at the same time. If you are camping in a warm or fair weather place on a low altitude, shorts could keep you comfortable.
But if you know of the extreme hot or cold temperatures that you will experience on the trip, pants are the better choice. Pants should always be made of durable, quick-drying materials like nylon or spandex.
Never wear jeans or any cotton pants on a camping trip. Pants also keep you comfortable if it's scorching hot or if the temperature drops, while also keeping your legs protected from hazards like poison ivy, rocks, and insects.
6. Not considering the weather
Before you even begin to pack your clothes, get as much information as possible about the place you are going to visit. If you have been there earlier, but in a different season, find out about the kind of weather you will likely experience.
If you have never been there, find out from others who have. Not considering the weather when choosing your camping garments is the biggest blunder you can make.
For instance, if it starts to snow in April, and you're without a proper pair of boots, you risk putting your feet through frostbite. If it suddenly gets hot, but all you have are warm clothes, you will be uncomfortable.
When learning about the weather of the place, don't forget to find out about the surprises you can expect so you can be better prepared with the appropriate clothing.
7. Not choosing the right shoes
Your feet are going to do most of the work when you are camping. In fact, hiking and camping trips are a lot about walking through uneven terrain, water, mud, and sludge. If you're camping in winter or spring, you may even have to face snow.
You must make sure that the footwear you choose, whether they are boots or shoes, are comfortable, durable, and right for the conditions. Waterproof material is your best choice if you want to keep your feet dry at all times.
If you are going to climb hilly terrain, wear boots with ankle support. You must also make sure the shoes fit you perfectly. An improper fit will result in sore feet and blisters. The shoes must also be paired with wool or synthetic socks that are breathable, dry fast, and wick moisture.
8. Not carrying rain gear
Regardless of the season, you're camping in, don't forget a rain jacket. It doesn't take long for the weather to do a somersault, so it's wise to be prepared with a waterproof, breathable rain jacket. If possible, also carry an umbrella, to protect both you and your pack from the elements.
There are small, foldable, lightweight umbrellas available specifically for camping or hiking trips. No matter how waterproof your pack claims to be, there's no guarantee that water will not sneak inside if you're caught in a downpour.
Modern rain jackets are waterproof, breakable, moisture wicking, and extremely comfortable. You may even consider ponchos, but they aren't as effective as a rain jacket. A waterproof rain hat also makes for a stylish and functional addition to your pack.
Key final points
Choosing the right garments can mean a world of difference between staying comfortable on your trip, or getting sweaty, wet, scratched, and downright uncomfortable.
Picking the right clothes for a camping trip isn't an easy process, but it can be done right if planned in advance.
Making a checklist, talking to others for recommendations, and combining practicality with comfort are the key things to consider when choosing camping clothing. When you are prepared with the right clothes, you get to fully enjoy your time in the outdoors without any worry.
How to choose camping gear that fits your style – Eastern Mountain Sports
The 10 most common mistakes people make when they go camping – The Telegraph
22 Camping Hacks from REI Experts – REI
Camping Checklist: The Essential Guide for Family Camping – Survivor’s Fortress
About the Author:
Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA but now lives in Arizona. His bachelor's degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship, and he completed 4 years in the US Navy. He has an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix (2006). He grew up in a family that loved to go camping. They also used to fish a lot. His family, including himself, owns several guns and he shoots once to twice a year. Currently, he lives in the Phoenix area.