Camping in a tent is an activity that many look forward to every summer.This is an opportunity to embrace the outdoors, relax, unwind and live simply.But some aspects of tents can be challenging.One mistake can lead to a very uncomfortable night under the stars.
These tips and tricks for camping in a tent will help beginners try it out without fear — and may just teach seasoned campers a thing or two.
How you get into camp will determine how many supplies you can bring with you, notes Bangor’s Bob Duchesne, a contributor to Good Birding’s daily news column in Bangor.
On one side is backpacking, where you haul all your gear (including tents) to the campsite on foot.In this case, you are limited to what you can carry.Fortunately, many companies have created lightweight gear specifically for this type of camping, including compact sleeping pads, micro stoves, and tiny water filtration units.So if you do some shopping and strategic packing, you can still find comfort in the backcountry.
On the other hand is what is called “car camping”, where you can drive your vehicle directly to the campsite.In this case, you can pack everything except the kitchen sink.This type of camping allows the use of larger, more elaborate tents, folding camping chairs, lanterns, board games, grills, coolers, and more.
Somewhere in the middle of camping comfort is canoe camping, where you can paddle to the campsite.This type of camping limits your gear to what you can fit comfortably and safely in your canoe.The same goes for other means of transport, such as sailboats, horses or ATVs.The amount of camping gear you can bring depends on how you get to camp.
Kennebunk’s John Gordon advises that if you’ve purchased a new tent, consider putting it together before heading out into the wilderness.Put it in your backyard on a sunny day and learn how all the poles, canvas, mesh windows, bungee cords, Velcro, zippers and stakes fit together.That way, you’ll be less nervous when you’re away from home to set up.This will also give you the opportunity to repair any broken tent poles or torn canvas before you really need it.
Most designated campgrounds and campgrounds have important rules to follow, some of which may not be so obvious, especially to those who are attending the event for the first time.For example, some campgrounds require campers to obtain a fire permit before starting a fire.Others have specific check-in and check-out times.It’s best to know these rules ahead of time so you can be prepared.Check the campground owner or manager’s website, or contact them directly via email or phone.
Once you arrive at the campsite, think carefully about exactly where you set up your tent.Choose a flat spot and avoid hazards such as hanging branches, advises Hazel Stark, co-owner of Maine Outdoor School.Also, stick to high ground if possible.
“Make sure you don’t pitch your tent low, especially if rain is forecast,” said Oran’s Julia Gray. “Unless you want to sleep in a leaky bed.”
Consider yourself lucky if you manage to camp in Maine without rain at least once.The Pine State is known for its rapidly changing weather.For this reason, it may be wise to use a tent outer layer.A tent fly is usually secured on top of the tent with the edges away from the tent from all sides.This space between the tent wall and the flies helps reduce the amount of water entering the tent.
Still, when the temperature drops at night, water droplets can form on the tent walls, especially near the floor.This accumulation of dew is unavoidable.For this reason, Ellsworth’s Bethany Preble recommends keeping your gear away from tent walls.Otherwise, you may wake up to a bag full of wet clothes.She also recommends bringing an extra tarp, which can be strung to create an extra shelter outside the tent if it’s particularly raining — like eating underneath.
Putting a footprint (a piece of canvas or similar material) under your tent can also make a difference, says Winterport’s Susan Keppel.Not only does it add extra water resistance, it also protects the tent from sharp objects like rocks and sticks, helping keep you warm and extending the life of your tent.
Everyone has their own opinion on which type of bed is best for tenting.Some people use air mattresses, while others prefer foam pads or cribs.There’s no one “right” setup, but it’s often more comfortable to put some form of padding between you and the ground, especially in Maine where rocks and bare roots can be found almost everywhere.
“I’ve found that the better your sleep surface is, the better the experience,” says Kevin Lawrence of Manchester, New Hampshire.”In cold weather, I usually put down a closed cell mat and then our bedding.”
In Maine, evenings are often cold, even in the middle of summer.It’s best to plan for cooler temperatures than you expect.Lawrence recommends placing a blanket on a sleeping pad or mattress for insulation, then climbing into the sleeping bag.Plus, Alison MacDonald Murdoch of Gouldsboro covers her tent floor with a wool blanket that wicks moisture away, acts as an insulator, and is comfortable to walk on.
Keep a flashlight, headlamp, or lantern somewhere easy to find in the middle of the night, as chances are you’ll have to go to the bathroom.Know the way to the nearest toilet or bathroom area.Some even put solar or battery powered lights in the outhouse to make it more visible.
Maine black bears and other wildlife are easily attracted to the smell of food.So keep food outside the tent and make sure to secure it in another location at night.In the case of car camping, that means putting food in the car.If backpacking, you may want to hang your food in a tree storage bag.For the same reason, perfume and other strongly scented items should also be avoided in tents.
Also, keep fires away from your tent.While your tent may be flame-retardant, it’s not fire-resistant.Campfire sparks can easily burn holes in them.
Black flies, mosquitoes and nostrils are the bane of campers in Maine, but if you keep your tent tightly shut, it will be a safe haven.If flies get into your tent, look for open zippers or holes that you can temporarily close with tape if you don’t have the right patch kit.However, no matter how vigilant you are about getting into the tent quickly and zipping behind you, some flies may get in.
“Bring a good flashlight into the tent and kill every mosquito and nostril you see before going to bed,” says Duchesner.”A mosquito buzzing in your ear is enough to drive you crazy.”
If the weather forecast calls for hot and dry weather, consider zipping sturdy tent walls to allow air to flow through mesh doors and windows.If the tent is set up for a few days, this will give off any stale smell.Also consider removing the tent flies (or rain cover) on clear, rainless nights.
“Take off the rain cover and look at the sky,” said Cari Emrich of Guildford.”Totally worth the risk [of the rain].”
Think about what little things can make your tent more comfortable, whether it’s an extra pillow or a lantern that hangs from the ceiling.Robin Hanks Chandler of Waldo does a lot to keep the floors of her tent clean.First, she put her shoes in a plastic trash bag outside the door.She also kept a small rug or old towel outside the tent to step on when she took off her shoes.
Tom Brown Boutureira of Freeport often attaches a clothesline to the outside of his tent, where he hangs towels and clothes to dry.My family always carries a hand broom to sweep the tent before packing it up.Also, if the tent gets wet when we pack it, we take it out and dry it in the sun when we get home.This prevents mold from damaging the fabric.
Aislinn Sarnacki is an outdoor writer in Maine and the author of three Maine hiking guides, including “Family-Friendly Hiking in Maine.”Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl.You can also… More by Aislinn Sarnacki
Post time: Jul-05-2022