It finally feels like spring is on the way after an incredibly long winter! To encourage us to get outside and make the most of the next few months we’ve asked outdoor enthusiast, Cal Bailey, editor of MountainLeon to share his tips for camping in spring. Over to you Cal…
Ah, the joys of spring. Flowers popping up, trees blooming, grass growing. A break from a long winter and the pull of fresh air makes spring camping the ideal way to get outdoors and enjoy the scenes of quiet nature.
But there are a few things to bear in mind about spring camping. Weather conditions can be unpredictable, and although the days are starting to feel warm, cold nights can catch campers out and make camping trips miserable.
Here are a few tips to help make your spring camping outing an enjoyable experience you can’t wait to repeat, rather than a soggy disaster.
Spring weather is unpredictable
Okay, so the weather in the UK is always a tad unpredictable, but many a camper has been caught out by freezing temperatures at night after a warm, sunny day.
It’s best to pack several layers and be prepared for the temperature to drop below zero. Packing a bit more than you need is better than spending a miserable night in the cold. Also, remember that if you’re hiking up to a camping spot, it’s likely to be cooler than temperatures at sea level.
Your focus for spring camping should be staying warm and dry. So pack gloves, a hat, and a waterproof outer shell, so you don’t get caught out by spring showers.
Do a test run before you set out
It takes me a few days to round up all my camping gear for the first spring outing. Somehow I always manage to misplace one glove. Anyway, once you’ve found everything you need, I suggest you spend some time familiarising yourself with your equipment, especially if it’s new (but also if you’re feeling a bit rusty).
If you have a garden, practice setting up your tent and make sure you have all the bits and pieces you need. If you don’t have a garden or outdoor space, set up camp in your living room instead. It’s much better to do a test run at home when you’re not under any time constraints and ensure you know exactly how to assemble all your equipment.
It’s also a better time to find out if something is missing, rather than getting stressed out when you’re setting up camp. Don’t forget to roll out your sleeping bag the day before you leave to give it time to decompress after it’s been stored all winter.
Ensure your equipment meets your needs
If you’re new to camping or you’ve only ever ventured out on trips in the summer, it’s crucial you check your sleeping bag rating to make sure it’s suitable for the temperatures you’ll be experiencing. It’s better to err on the side of caution and take a bag which is rated slightly lower than you’re expecting.
The ratings used for sleeping bags assume you’re using a sleeping pad under your bag. This offers more insulation from the ground and will help keep you warm when the temperature drops.
As well as using the right tent and sleeping bag for spring conditions, don’t forget to wear moisture-wicking clothes. That means staying away from cotton and using a material such as merino wool as your first layer. Instead of retaining moisture, it helps move it out and away from your skin.
Then pile on insulating layers, such as fleece, and choose an outer shell which is wind and waterproof.
Make a list of things you’ll need
However organised you are, keeping track of what you’re packing in your head will likely mean you end up leaving something behind. Somehow it’s usually your headlamp, a stove component or, perish the thought, the bottle opener.
Whether you write it out by hand or make a beautiful excel sheet print out is up to you. Just make a list, and tick things off as you pack them. Oh, and don’t forget to add the knives and forks.
Spring is a lovely time to go camping. It’s less crowded than in summer, so you can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and long walks in the fresh air, there are fewer insects around, and campsite fees are usually cheaper. If you happen to be camping next to a bluebell forest, you’ll also be in for one of nature’s spectacular treats.
The most important thing to remember is that it can still get very cold and very wet. And windy. So wear moisture-wicking clothes and a waterproof outer layer, pack lots of food to keep you going as you’ll be burning more calories than in the summer, and practice setting up your tent before you set off on your trip. The more prepared you are for spring conditions, the more fun you’ll have.
About The Author
Cal Bailey runs MountainLeon – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or tips for travelling, head over to his website.