This might seem like a no-brainer, but there are many times where at the end of the long and hard day you sit there in front of the freshly fried egg without your precious spork. So go ahead, gobble it up with your hands or a makeshift fork from a stick. And think about what you did wrong.
So water, or a failsafe way to get clean water (whether it is by way of a well close to where you camp or by tablets or filters) is a must have. Matches or a lighter for starting a fire.
A MAP and COMPASS. You might not have to use it, but if you find yourself in a situation where you’re lost, this will come and handy and might save your life.
Plan for a potential emergency
Continuing, planning for an emergency is essential. A first aid kit, bandages, disinfectant. The whole shebang. Make sure you know where you keep the kit, top of mind and all that, so you don’t have to search through your whole camp. Even if it’s only a minor injury, when the stress levels are high all kinds of preparation will ease the anxiety and help you keep focus on the important things.
Bring an instrument (or someone who plays one)
Can’t claim that this is AS essential of a Do as the ones above, but it is far more enjoyable. Living for a few days with natural light, you will learn that it’s generally easier and feels more sensible to adapt your activities for this as well. Most of you will not read a book by the fire light, or solve a crossword puzzle in your tent before falling asleep. Probably not.
Music by the fire light, however, is one of the most fitting ways to enjoy a calm outdoors evening. Harmonica, ukulele or even a guiro will serve you well those cozy nights with friends who may or may not be able to hit a note.
Hang your food from a tree branch and keep it in containers
Not much will damped your camping party’s good spirits like waking up to find your food supply molested by wild animals or overrun by various insects. Just raising your provisions above ground level will eliminate many of the risks of getting robbed. Of course, you need something to raise it up with, which coincidentally brings us to our next Do…
Assume that you are Bear Grylls
Don’t assume that you will battle with wolverines and expose yourself to extreme survival conditions, or worse that you will actually survive extreme survival conditions. This is not the type of camping I’m talking about. Or, it’s actually camping I’m talking about, and not throwing away all your gear to test your sense of manliness.
If you’re going camping, bring a tent or some kind of shelter. Canned food is not cheating. Neither is bringing gas. Set your own level and prepare for exactly that.
Harass the wildlife
This is kind of obvious as well. Part of going out into nature is to actually experience the outdoors and nature in its own right. Actually being a part of what is around you. As such, don’t let your trash make an offensive contrast against the natural beauty of the wilderness. Also, don’t feed the animals.
Lose your shoes
Whether it is after you’ve been busy skinny dipping after a few cold ones and need to walk back to camp, or you’ve slept snugly for a few hours and then find yourself in a pitch black forest with a need to do your… needs, keep your shoes around. Make sure you remember where you’ve placed them. I’m not saying I’ve had an experience myself that has taught me the importance of this. But it is important enough to be one of five Don’ts. So, don’t.
Let yourself be held back by anyone’s arbitrary opinions of what you should or should not do
Most importantly, you are the one who is camping. It is about you (and your accompanying friends and family) and your experience with nature and the outdoors. Make sure you have the right conditions for you to experience the most enjoyable trip you possibly can. If there is one big don’t I could leave you with, it’s this one:
Few Mistakes that many people makes during Camping
1. Not testing all your equipment beforehand
Yes it sounds a bit nerdy but trust me, the time you don’t want to discover missing tent pegs, a broken sleeping bag zip, a snapped washing line, a leak in the air mattress or a cooker that doesn’t work is when you’re four hours drive away from any means of sorting out the problem. Before you set off, pitch your tent somewhere and pour water over to check it is still weatherproof. Likewise get to know the rest of your gear by putting it through its paces, especially if it’s new and untested.
2. Arriving late to the campsite
Anyone who’s ever pitched a tent in the dark will know the nightmare it can be. You can’t see to put the thing up, you invariably select a terrible spot next to the toilets and having woken up the neighbours, you almost certainly have to move in the morning. Plan to arrive in good time so you can spend a while looking for a good patch of flat, dry grass with no overhanging branches that won’t flood if it rains. Familiarising yourself with the site and its important conveniences – such as showers and water supplies - is also much easier in daylight.
3. Relying on a campfire or barbecues for cooking
Everyone loves the pleasure of outdoor cooking, but don’t let it go to your head. Even the most staunch sausage fan will be sick of flame-charred meat after a few days. What’s more, starting a cooking fire or lighting a barbecue every time you get peckish or want to boil up water will go through your resources quickly, take a long time and leave you frustrated and hungry. As well as checking in advance that you’re allowed fires or barbecues where you’re staying, always take insurance - pack a decent gas cooking stove and spare gas canisters too. Oh, and matches, ideally kept in a waterproof container.
4. Going too basic in the bedroom
I’m a light packer by nature; happy to double up my warm layer as a pillow to save space and weight. But that’s when I’m mountaineering. In a campsite that’s going to be home for a while, being too survivalist is a mistake. You won’t sleep well and you’ll hate going to bed. If you know you’ll long for pillows, pack them. Ensure sleeping bags are going to be warm enough for the weather forecasted and that you always have an air-filled layer between your bag and the ground. Thermarests are great for weight and warmth but for ultimate comfort an air mattress probably wins out. Or a camp bed. Earplugs and eyemasks are also a good idea should you want to sleep past 7am.
5. Going too Gordon Ramsey with dinner
Well before you set off, sit down and plan out your daily meals. But whatever you do, don’t make them too complicated. Confit guinea fowl with fondant potato and a red wine reduction is probably pushing it when your work surface is a log. Cool boxes have come a long way but they won’t keep meat for four or five days. Sticking to "one pan" dishes is not a bad idea to lessen sink time. Plan a menu around non-perishables and shop accordingly, incorporating tinned produce and dry goods like rice and pasta. Same goes when thinking about breakfast. Peanut butter, bread and jam are easy foods that will fill you with energy. Remember to bring bags for your rubbish too. And washing up liquid.
6. Cooking in your tent
Unbelievably, I still hear of this one quite a lot. At best, cooking inside causes condensation; at worst, death. There have been some tragic cases where people have asphyxiated themselves using a stove (sometimes even temporary barbecues) inside tents for cooking or warmth. Obviously there is the risk of fire, but carbon monoxide poisoning is a swift and silent killer in unventilated spaces. There are nature risks to cooking inside as well: in bear country the smell of cooking wafting from a tent is practically suicide. Some tents have vented vestibules designed for stove use but, as a rule, it's wise to never cook inside your tent.
7. Bringing insufficient lighting
The nights can get pretty long under the stars and unless you want to turn in as soon as it gets dark, battery-powered or solar lanterns are a good idea. At a minimum, a head torch is indispensable and leaves your hands free to do other things – like reading or (more likely) the washing up. Again, check it works before leaving and pack extra batteries.
8. Forgetting books or a ‘bored box’
Crucial in bad weather, on long evenings and whenever you’re camping with the family are games, books, cards, toys, telescopes, pen and pencils – whatever you can fit in the car, really. Basically these are the things that will keep you all sane if the heavens open for two days straight, confining you and the little ones to canvas. It pays to go quite old-school here – no one wants to hear Disney films blaring out from next door’s tent. Little iPods loaded with audiobooks are OK; Kindles less so, as they easily get sat or stood on, shattering the screen. Oh, and if the rain doesn’t shift and you begin to suspect cabin fever setting in, you’ll be grateful for waterproofs, so make sure they’re on the list too.
9. Failing to enforce a rigorous "no footwear inside the tent" policy
It might be onerous to remove them every time you enter the tent, but muddy or sandy boots or trainers can turn your sleeping space into an unpleasant place. Mucky and wet kit is miserable and unnecessary and woe betide if sand find its way into your sleeping bag - it’ll have you heading for home smartish. Make sure all footwear is removed before entering but remember to store it undercover in case of bad weather. Have an extra pair of thick socks in your bag for when lounging inside the tent.