Maybe some minimalist campers out there will look at this list and laugh, but in order for me to have a great time camping I need a comfortable place to rest and recharge at night. If you have ever thought twice about heading out on a summer camping trip because you miss certain comforts from home, this list is for you. There isn't one right way to camp, it's whatever makes camping enjoyable for you, while still respecting nature and other campers. So here are a few tips on setting up a great tent that will make your next camping adventure a little more comfortable.
Choosing Your Tent
Tent sizes are determined by the amount of people that can sleep side by side on the floor of a tent. This doesn't account for space needed to move around or store your gear. So, when choosing a tent size take the number of people that will be sleeping in your tent and multiply it by 2 or 3 to determine the appropriate size. This will allow you space for bed(s), gear, and room to move around.
Choose a tent that has enough headroom for you and your other tent-mates to stand up. It is so nice not to have to crouch down to change or walk around. Because of their near-vertical walls, cabin and tunnel style tents will provide the most headroom throughout.
Large windows on opposite sides of the tent are great for ventilation when the weather is warm. And when the weather get's chilly it is so nice to be able to take cover in your tent while still being able to enjoy the view.
Whatever tent color you choose is what you will be surrounded by inside your tent, so choose a color that evokes your desired mood. I like to be relaxed in my tent while still letting in a good amount of light during the day, so I prefer light neutral colors. Neutral colors also blend in with the natural environment better so they are less intrusive when enjoying the serenity of the outdoors. I used to have a bright red tent and I hated being inside of it because it actually made me kind of anxious. This is up to your own personal preference, but definitely something to consider when buying a tent.
A tent with mesh wall pockets are perfect for keeping your smaller items organized and up off the floor, making your space feel less cluttered.
Tip: Save money and create less waste by buying used gear. You can save a lot of money by buying a gently used tent that just didn't work for someone else's needs, or that needs an inexpensive repair. Checkout eBay and Craigslist, and if you are an REI member try their Garage Sales.
Making Your Bed
Cot + Air Mattress
Getting your bed up off the ground is kind of a game-changer. A cot paired with an air mattress will create a bed that is a similar height to your bed at home, and to me that familiarity makes it so much easier to get a restful night of sleep.
If you will be camping in an area that gets chilly after dark make sure your sleeping bag is rated for those temperatures so you don't wake up shivering in the middle of the night. On the other hand, if you are camping somewhere hot, skip the sleeping bag and just bring a lightweight blanket from home. And definitely bring your comfy pillows from your own bed.
Some people like being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the outdoors, but for me, every single crack of a twig or rustle of leaves keeps me awake. I have never slept so well camping as when I started using earplugs to block out all those little noises.
Tip: Reuse items you have at home. My husband, Drew, and I have a lightweight foldable bed frame and air mattress that we use when guests stay the night in our apartment. It folds down flat and works perfectly for our bed when camping.
Laying a rug or blanket out on the floor of your tent will give you one more layer between the rough ground and your feet, and will add a little warmth to the cold tarp floor.
The bright white light of flashlights and lanterns can be a little harsh, especially when it is bouncing off the walls of your tent. Choose lights that have a warm orange color for a soft glow.
Having a set of comfy clothes and socks that you only wear inside your tent are so nice to change into at the end of the day, and it will ensure that you don't bring dirt into your bed.