Camping and hiking through the wilderness can be a great experience for all involved: a chance to get away from our lives and spend a little time with Mother Nature. Whether you're planning a short weekend trip to a local campsite or a lengthier trek through a national park, it's important to be prepared in order to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe. Here are the top ten tips to help set you on the right path during your trip.
- Camping with kids. While camping with your family and pets can be a great experience, it does take extra planning. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing to protect them from cold temperatures or the hot sun. Teach your children what to do in the event that they become separated and make sure they each have a flashlight. Review the rules for camping daily to ensure the entire family will stay safe.
- Pitch camp before dark. Whether you are camping under the stars or locating an RV park, make sure you always find or create your shelter for the night before it grows dark.
- Find the right sleeping bag. If you are sleeping out of doors, make sure you find a sleeping bag that is appropriate for the season. If the weather is cooler, make sure your sleeping bag has a lower temperature rating and will keep you warm enough in the event that the temperature drops lower than expected. Make sure you have waterproof gear in case it rains. Hummingbird offers a great waterproof gear including a waterproof bag to protect your money and other small personal belongings while you camp.
- Just the bare necessities. Limit the food you bring with you to the bare necessities, using sealed plastic bags to store and mix food. Make sure you carry water with you if it is not always accessible. The best water bottle you can use is a Platypus soft water bottle that can be flattened to pack easily when empty. You can also sanitize spring water with packets of iodine.
- Like you weren't even there... Make sure you pick up after yourself, leaving no trace that you were there and leaving the ecosystem as undisturbed as possible. This includes burying human waste and bathing and washing dishes 200 feet away from any streams and lakes.
- Dress the part. Make sure that you dress appropriately for the season, wearing layers of loose clothing that can be peeled off before you start sweating to keep you dry. Hiking boots are ideal for footwear, although whatever you choose should have a moisture-absorbing lining.
- Avoid poisonous plants and bugs. To protect yourself from poisonous plants, make sure your clothing covers you from head to toe. Protective clothing is also important in protecting yourself from insects. Make sure you apply insect repellent regularly and have calamine lotion on hand in the event you need it for poisonous plants or bugs.
- Don’t get lost. While this may sound obvious, an unprepared camper can easily become lost during a longer hike. Do not wander far from your site without carrying a compass, map, or GPS.
- Survival kit. Some of the basic things you will want in your survival kit include water-purifying tablets, a water filter, and metal bowl. Make sure you have a sharp knife that you can use to hunt, protect yourself or signal for help. Waterproof matches, a flashlight and extra batteries are also an important addition to your survival kit. Finally, have a basic first aid kit in the event that you or someone with you is injured.
- Hygiene. Keep hand sanitizer with you to use before eating or drinking. Brush your teeth using purified water with toothpaste or baking soda. Bathe once or twice a day using a sponge. Whenever possible, soak dirty feet in streams or lakes.