Each camping trip you venture out on will bring with it a piece of advice, passed onto you by more experienced campers or you bring back from your experiences gems of wisdom that you remember for your next trip.
During my visit to the Lake District it was apparent that I was wearing the wrong clothing and I also realised I was very much unprepared. What I took for granted was that being in a more open environment you are not protected from the elements. If it rains you can’t easily find shelter and could quickly lose body heat. You can’t easily locate your position and essentially, food and water could be scarce. Since then I’ve been doing my research and now have a much better idea on what to wear and take with me.
I went out with heavy work boots on my feet, Jeans, T-shirt with a hoodie top and in my back pack I had a fleeced lined water proof. Robust and warm enough for the terrain I thought. I was wrong. Cotton fabrics draw in moisture and draws heat away from the body and once wet, will take a long time to dry and become heavy and uncomfortable. I should have dressed using the layering system.
“but you can find yourself in a situation where visibility deteriorates”
The base layer made from synthetics or Merino wool worn first next to the skin to keep in heat, draw away moisture (known as wicking) and have the benefit of being light weight. The Merino wool will also stop body odour caused from sweat. However synthetics cost less and dry quicker than Merino wool.
The mid layer traps heat and allow sweat to disperse through the layers. Usually in the form of a light weight to mid weight fleece. Depending on the climate will depend on the thickness you choose.
The outer layer blocks wind and rain but still allows the sweat to disperse from your clothing.
Lets not forget your legs. You should wear synthetic leggings for your base layer and waterproof over trousers over the top to protect you from wind and rain. Of course there are alternatives to this and depending on the activity you can purchase other types of trousers suitable for hiking like soft shell.
Finally, remember gloves, a hat and a good pair of walking socks (always carry a spare pair of socks in your backpack) to keep your extremities warm. Adding or removing the hat and gloves will fine tune your temperature.
Boots made for walking
The boots I had although robust were not designed for long distance walking and lacked the comfort and flexibility of a walking boot. They had no ventilation and were much heavier. A good pair of walking boots is essential as they can cause unnecessary problems with your feet later on like arch pain, shin splints and heel pain to name a few. Always get good advice when having them fitted and again the type of activity will depend on the boot you choose with regards to its durable, breathable and waterproof qualities. Essentially, make sure they are comfortable. You will after all be wearing them.
Food for thought
In my back pack I had hurriedly packed a 2 litre bottle of lemonade and packets of crisps and biscuits. I knew these were a bad choice but at the time I couldn’t buy anything and grabbed the nearest items from the tent. Sometimes, something is better than nothing at all but they are bad for you because of the salt content which causes dehydration and also because of the lack of energy they contain. I would always suggest water or water with added electrolytes/vitamins and snack foods packed with energy like bananas and nuts and if you do need sugar, take some chocolate or Kendal mint cake (the original energy bar) just in case.
Location, location, location
I was following a known path and I had a very large lake in full view so I guess I wasn’t ever lost but you can find yourself in a situation where visibility deteriorates, you lose your way or you just want to take a new unknown path.
Either way, you need to know where you are and where you are heading. It took me less than a weekend to get to grips with the basics of map reading with a compass. There’s plenty of resources on the internet to help you learn. I would recommend you look at the differences between compasses and know how to use them along with the appropriate map. I recently purchased the Silva Ranger S, which I can easily use with the 1-2-3 navigation technique with greater accuracy but there are different ones available to suit your needs.
This article only touches on a few areas that you should consider when camping but I guess my message is do your research before you go. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail as the saying goes. So, research your equipment, know your equipment, be prepared, be safe and always return with good memories.