When most people think of camping, they envision a summertime activity. But camping is a year-round activity—you just have to be prepared for the weather. Unfortunately, when planning a camping trip, clothes are often an afterthought.
However, what you pack can make or break your experience. And 'what to wear when camping ' is a very commonly asked question that we hear.
Depending on the time of year and location, you'll want to make sure you have the right clothing to keep you comfortable. Here are some factors to consider when packing for your next camping trip.
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What to Consider
When packing the perfect wardrobe for camping, there are several factors that should be considered. But they can be grouped into the following:
Understanding what you'll be doing on your trip.
Will you be hiking? Do you plan on taking any side trips? Will you be near a body of water? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you determine which items to bring.
For example, if you plan on doing a lot of hiking, you'll want to pack light and breathable clothing that won't weigh you down or cause chafing. Breathable fabrics that will wick away sweat are a good choice, and you'll also want to make sure your clothes provide some protection from the sun.
If you're planning on spending time in the water, on the other hand, you'll need to pack swimwear as well as clothes that can get wet. And if you're expecting winter sports, you'll need to pack layers that you can put on or take off as the temperature changes
On the other hand, if your trip will be largely sedentary and more focused on relaxing around the campsite, then you can afford to pack a few more items and layers to keep you comfortable. You might also want to pack some heavier items, like jeans or a sweater, in case the temperature drops at night.
Another important factor to consider is the weather.
Obviously, you'll want to dress differently for a summer camping trip than a winter camping trip. In general, it's always best to err on the side of caution and pack slightly more than you think you'll need—you can always remove layers if necessary, but it's hard to add them if you don't have them.
Consider the type of camping you're doing.
If you are car camping, you can bring all your gear with you in the car, which affords you the luxury of packing more clothes and heavier items than backpacking, where you have to carry everything on your back. Not just clothes, you can bring in heavy camp furniture like camp chairs and tables also that would be difficult to pack if you were backpacking.
Packing for Different Seasons
Now that we've gone over some general factors to consider when packing for a camping trip, let's take a more detailed look at what to wear in different seasons.
In springtime, temperatures can vary widely from day to day, so it's important to pack both warm and cool weather clothing. A few key items include light jackets or hoodies, long pants, closed-toe shoes, and hats.
If you're car camping, you can also bring along a few heavier items, like a sweater or jeans, in case the temperature drops at night.
When most people think of camping, they envision hot days spent hiking and swimming, followed by cool evenings spent around the campfire. If that sounds like your ideal camping trip, then you'll want to pack light, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen. Long-sleeved shirts will protect you from the sun, while shorts or skirts will keep you cool as you hike. And don't forget a bathing suit for cooling off in the lake or river.
A few other must-haves include tank tops or t-shirts, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats or visors.
Fall is a great time to go camping—the leaves are changing color and the weather is (usually) perfect. To transition your summer wardrobe into fall, simply add a few layers. A denim jacket or a flannel shirt will keep you warm in cooler temperatures while adding some style points. A pair of bootcut jeans will also come in handy as you hike through fallen leaves.
But make sure to pack clothing that will keep you warm without being too bulky. A few essentials include long pants, sweaters or sweatshirts, closed-toe shoes or boots, and jackets or coats.
Winter camping can be magical—think snow-capped mountains and cozy fireside chats. But it can also be dangerous if you're not properly dressed for the cold weather. To stay warm while winter camping, dress in layers.
A base layer of sweat-wicking fabric will keep you dry, while an insulating mid-layer will trap heat next to your body. Top it all off with a waterproof outer layer, and you'll be good to go no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.
You'll want to make sure you have long johns or thermal underwear, heavy sweaters or sweatshirts, coats or snowsuits, gloves, hats, and waterproof boots.
Lastly, no matter what time of year you go camping, there's always a chance of rain. To be prepared, pack a few key items like rain jackets, umbrellas, and rain boots. If you're car camping, you can also bring along a tarp to set up over your tent in case of bad weather.
By following these general guidelines—and using your best judgment based on the specific trip you're taking—you can ensure that you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience while camping. Remember that always err on the side of caution and packing too few clothes can hurt during unexpected emergencies.
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What to Pack
Now that you know what to consider when packing your camping wardrobe, it's time to start packing! Here are some essential items to include, no matter the season or type of camping trip.
Whether you're car camping or backpacking, there are some items you'll need to pack. These include:
A sturdy pair of shoes: You'll need a good pair of shoes for hiking, walking around the campsite, and just general exploring. Choose shoes that are comfortable and provide good support. If you're car camping, you can bring an extra pair of shoes to change into at the campsite.
Clothes that can get wet: Even if you're not planning on swimming, there's always a chance you could get caught in a rain shower or end up splashing around in a puddle. Pack clothes that can get wet, like quick-dry fabrics or swimwear.
Layers: The temperature can drop at night, especially if you're camping in the mountains. Pack layers that you can put on or take off as needed.
A hat and sunglasses: A hat will protect your face from the sun, and sunglasses will help keep the glare out of your eyes.
Sunscreen: Don't forget to pack sunscreen, even if it's not sunny! The sun's UV rays can be just as harmful on a cloudy day.
Towels: Pack at least one towel per person for showering, swimming, or just drying off after a hike.
Clothes for specific activities: Depending on what activities you have planned for your trip, you'll need to pack the appropriate clothes.
Bug spray: Yes, we had to include this as whatever you wear, you should smear them with bug spray or cream, else bugs can ruin a camping trip if you're not prepared. Be sure to pack bug spray, and reapply it often according to the instructions on the bottle.
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No matter what time of year it is, there's always something special about spending time outdoors surrounded by nature.
And with the right clothing, you can enjoy your favorite camping activities no matter the season.
With a little planning ahead, packing the perfect camping wardrobe is easy! So whether you're planning a summertime getaway or a winter adventure, make sure to pack accordingly—your future self will thank you!
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