50 Mistakes: Campers Offer Their Best Advice

27) Paracord is your friend.

You need a clothesline. Things will get wet and they need to dry. Fix things. Tie stuff to trees… who knows? Don’t forget it at home.

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28) Forgetting headwear.

If there is any chance it will be cold at night, bring a small hat and gloves — doesn’t take up much space and if you need them you will be happy to have them.

29) Wet feet.

Mistake I made once — not having waterproof shoes/extra pair. Even though there was no rain, the grass in the morning is usually damp. Chilly autumn morning + damp feet = misery.

30) If you change one thing all week.

Bring lots of clean socks and underwear.

31) Keep your stuff dry.

Use dry bags for clothes, and if any clothes get wet, try and dry them out once an opportunity arrises, always make sure that you have some warm dry layers available in case of emergency.

32) Mind the dew.

If you’re car camping (or just have a bunch of stuff) remember to stow your gear under something overnight. Morning dew can be enough to dampen wood, towels, chairs, or whatever else you may have left out. And lock up your food or use tie-downs; raccoons can unlock cooler latches.

33) Don’t run out of whiskey.

Grrr.

34) Be aware of elevation.

If you live at sea level and you take a trip and camp at 7000 ft… You gon’ get drunk real fast.

35) Over packing

Almost every camping trip

36) Remember the mosquitoes.

Don’t know if this matters in other places, but as a Floridian camper, my best advice is to NEVER forget your bug spray. Best way to ruin a great camping trip is being eaten alive by mosquitos

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37) So thirsty.

Don’t underestimate how much water you need. If you can easily get it where you are going then fine, but in many places you need to bring your own. Big gallon jugs seem to be the easiest to deal with in terms of storage to use value.

38) Try to keep your gear together.

It can get challenging when camping with a group, especially if they’re less prepared than you are. Having boxes, bins, bags, whatever, for all your shit, will help you inventory it when it comes time to pick up camp. Milk Crates pull double duty, stack as tables, chairs, nightstand, load easily into truck or trunk. Buckets from Home Depot work well, too.

39) For the love of god, bring chairs for everyone.

They make them cheap enough, but if you can afford it, get a nice one for yourself. After the sun goes down, sitting around the campfire gets uncomfortable real quick.

40) Garbage bags.

You’re going to generate more trash than you would expect. Bring a couple trash bags, and post them around your site. At the kitchen, near the toilet, on your camp chair, at the back of your car.

41) Bring a multitool.

Something is going to be loose, break, or need to be broken.

42) Know your tent.

The last time we went camping, before we took the tent down, I marked each pole with duck tape to mark which poles to use in each step. One stripe for the first step, two for the second, and three for the third. The next time we went camping, huge improvement, zero fights, tent was up in five minutes.

43) Books are nice.

Bring something to read.

44) It gets dark fast.

Start making dinner earlier than you think you should. It takes longer to cook outdoors and the sun seems to set faster in the forest. You want to have everything packed up, washed up, and put away before it gets too dark.

45) Bear rope.

If you’ve got to do a bear hang, get it all set up before sunset.

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46) Take care of your gear.

Patch holes, keep knives clean, wrap ropes properly, dry out tents after a trip, if you take care of your gear it will last longer, and it will not give you problems in the field.

47) Set up for wind.

If it is windy, point the narrowest end of your tent in the direction of the wind. That is, if it’s a low-to-the-ground, aerodynamic tent. If it’s a tall cabin-type tent, then it won’t really matter. I recommend a dome tent as opposed to a cabin tent for this reason. I have used both types, and during a storm, the wind turned my cabin tent inside out (wind caught the rain-fly, pulled up my tent poles, flipped the end, disaster).

48) Clean tent inside.

Pack a small broom and dustpan to sweep all the dirt out of your tent before you pack it up at the end of your trip. Those little grains will do some damage to your tent floor and walls. For freestanding tents, you can just pick them up and shake the dirt out the door.

49) Make lists.

First time I forgot something important, I made checklist. Been using said checklist and evolving it to be better and better for years. Bring a sheet of paper and a pencil. Write down the things you forgot to bring, and make a note of things that you can take out. Eventually, you’ll have a pack that suits you perfectly.

50) Don’t forget a spare lighter.

Or matches. Or a ferro rod. SOMETHING. A little underprepared, a lighter died on my wife and I the night before climbing a 14,000 foot mountain. When we got up for the alpine start at 4 a.m., we were not happy when we couldn’t get the stove started for coffee.

–Readers, what’s your biggest camping screw up or tip to make life better in the campground or backcountry?