Nature can be a cruel and unforgiving place. It seems as though we’ve gotten more used to navigating the concrete jungle rather than the actual jungle. We’ve become more dependent on the multiplex that is organized society that just the thought of spending time camping outdoors can send a flurry of stress, panic, and other mixed emotions we don’t seem to understand, all over our body.
But look at you. You’ve decided to forego those hindering thoughts anyway and brave the outdoors – in the desert no less. I have one simple tip: try not to burn.
All kidding aside, I’m here for a purpose and that purpose is desert camping tips to help you survive your trip to that hot, desolate, terrain so that hopefully, you’ll be able to come out of it – stories in tow with a wide smile on your face.
STEP 1: Preparation And Organization
The biggest enemy to any camping trip is going unprepared. If you want to survive, you better prepare and get organized. Take a moment to sit down, pen and paper, and write down your plans beforehand.
The very first thing you need to pack is water – lots and lots of it. A good baseline is one gallon per person, per day. This is purely drinking water and does not include water for other uses, aka showering, cooking, or cleaning. If you feel like you’ve packed too much, you’re probably on the right track.
Another thing that’s great to invest in is a personal water filter or a filtered water bottle. Products like the LifeStraw or the CamelBak All Clear are great items to have with you especially when camping in the desert because they ensure the water you drink is safe even if you get it from a stream.
Another thing that’s important to pack with you are the right clothes. Don’t assume that just because you’re going to the desert, all you need are shorts and a tank top – no.
At night, the desert can drop down to almost freezing temperatures; so pack some warm jackets, leggings, and blankets with you. Bring some sunscreen and a hat while you’re at it for the hot day.
Don’t forget your maps or GPS at home. A lot of the deserts can be pretty hard to get to and you definitely don’t want to end up lost and in the middle of nowhere. Speaking of places in the middle of nowhere, fill up on those random gas stations every chance you get.
Gas stations are few and far apart, so gas up the moment you see one. It’s one thing to get lost in the desert with no map or GPS. It’s another to be stranded there because you’ve run out of gas. You might as well get that thumb ready for a hitchhiking adventure!
STEP 2: Do Your Research
Before you jump into your car, you better release that inner study-bee and do research on where you are going first. This goes for any place you plan to camp in, but even more so in the desert because, you know, there are animals and insects there than can kill.
Note; take great care when it comes to snakes, scorpions, lizards, spiders, and various other creepy crawlies. Research what to look out for, where they like to hang out, and how to treat bites. While you’re at it, grab some medicine along the way – just in case.
Apart from researching on those little creatures that you will be sharing a night or two with, read about what actual attractions you can find in the desert you are going to.
You’re already heading out there, so might as well make the most of it! Desert parks usually have something special about them that attract people to visit, despite the harsh environments.
Joshua Tree National Park, for example, has tons of rocks and boulders that are great for climbing and suitable for all levels. If you know beforehand what to expect, you can maximize your desert camping experience.
STEP 3: Set Up In The Right Place
There are two things against you on this one – heat and wind. Once you arrive in your desert, survey the area. Look for shade from an overhang or near the walls of a cliff, or else your tent will end up an oven. Be mindful of what you leave inside your tent because if it gets really hot, the sun can melt plastic!
Next, you need to brave the winds. Set up your tent parallel to the wind direction with the entrance of your tent against the wind. Open the back vent so the wind can pass through without causing too much noise and trouble.
If you’re lucky, the campgrounds may already have designated areas to pitch your tent that may even come with some table, chairs, and a fire pit with it. So again, do your research about where you are going and once you get there, set up your tent in the right place!
STEP 4: Don’t Underestimate A Good Nap
You have to accept it – the desert is going to be really hot. Don’t burn yourself out right away, especially if you’re staying for a number of days. Chill out, relax; wasn’t that the point of getting away anyway?
During the time of day when the sun is at its peak, take that time to find yourself some shade and just relax or take a nap. Schedule your activities for the early morning and late afternoon when the sun won’t give you a beating. This will also lessen the chances of you getting dehydrated or getting heatstroke.
EMBARK ON YOUR DESERT ADVENTURES
Though you may be nervous or scared, don’t be. Plenty of people have gone camping in the desert before you and have lived to tell the tale. More than that they’ve come back with great stories – at least I know I have.
Just remember the most important thing is to keep hydrated. During your activities in the desert, always have water with you – NO EXCEPTIONS. Dehydration and heat stroke are your biggest rivals there so don’t even think about leaving your water bottle thinking you’ll find water somewhere nearby.
As long as you follow that simple rule and remember these desert camping tips, I’m pretty sure you will survive and have a lot of fun. Adventures await, so enjoy, have fun, and try not to burn!