The forest is a wonderful and magical place – after all, it’s the setting for most of the fairy tales you hear about; and a whole bunch of nightmares and terrifying stories, but I digress.
Even though the forest may seem like one of the safest places to camp (compared to other places like an icy mountain or a scorching desert), there are some things you need to prepare yourself for.
Whether you’ll be camping at an established campground with designated campsites or going at it “wild and freestyle”, these forest camping tips can help you survive the night and enjoy the magic in the forest.
CHECK YOUR TENT AND SLEEPING BAGS
This is a tip that applies to camping in general, whether in the forest, desert, beach, or anywhere else.
Before your trip, it’s a good idea to pitch your tent at home to check for any problems like holes, stuck zippers, broken poles, broken pegs, or missing pieces. Do this a few days before your trip (not the day before) in case you may need to do some repairs, purchase missing pieces, or replace your tent completely.
If all is good with your tent, pack it up and do the same thing with your sleeping bags. Make sure they are clean and don’t have any problems so that you will be as comfortable as possible when you sleep.
Another useful item you can bring with you are sleeping pads. The ground in the forest may not be as soft as the desert or the beach – a sleeping pad can give you that extra comfort you might need for a good night’s rest.
PACKING THE ESSENTIALS
Apart from your tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pads, there are other essentials you will need for when you camp in the forest.
They key to staying safe in the forest is to avoid areas with natural hazards. Don’t pitch a tent at the base of a slope or underneath dead trees or leafless barks – unless you want a branch crashing down on you and your tent. It is important that you know what kind of hazards there are before you camp, such as bears.
Cooking And Fire Safety
When building a fire, be sure to set in on clear and leveled ground. Use a fire ring if it’s available or construct one. A stone surface is the best place to set up but if that isn’t available either, be sure that there are no flammable materials within least 10 feet of the fire.
Don’t cut off branches from live and healthy trees – look for fallen, dead branches to start your fire. Make sure to check for overhang or low lying branches as well that could possibly catch fire.
If it’s really windy, reconsider building a fire because embers or sparks may fly and the trees and leaves nearby can catch fire really easily. Remember to never leave your fire unattended and have water and a shovel nearby to extinguish or smother the flames in case it begins to get out of control.
When it’s time to extinguish, use lots of water and smother it with dirt. Stir that muddy mixture and add more water just in case. Be sure to check thoroughly that no embers are left behind.
You can put a green leaf about the coals of the fire to check – if the leaf curls, the coals are still hot and you need to smother it some more. The best thing to do is keep it small and at a maintainable size so you don’t end up torching the entire forest!
Don’t Touch That
The rule of the forest is that if you aren’t sure what it is, don’t touch it. There are numerous hazards that you can find there that range from bugs to plants, all the way to wild animals.
A common hazard you might find in the forest is poison ivy. You know the saying, “Leaves of three, leave them be?” Yup, keep away from poison ivy. Poison Ivy can cause severe allergic reactions that in the worst cases may even be fatal – so be cautious of your surroundings.
But don’t think that poison ivy is the only plant there that can cause you major problems. There are a lot of different plants that cause rashes and irritation, so as much as possible, simply keep your hands to yourself. It’s good if you know what plants are around you by researching beforehand.
If you’re in a campsite, they’ll usually give you warnings or they may have even cleared the area of most things that can harm you.
I have just a few more tips that may help you – close the tent doors right away to avoid insects from coming inside and annoying you for the rest of the evening. As much as possible, wear light clothing and avoid wearing perfume, because dark colors and the smell of certain fragrances tend to attract bugs!
Well, that’s all from me for now. Camping in the forest can be really magical and enjoyable as long as you remember to prepare ahead, pack everything you need, and keep in mind your safety. There are tons of National Forests in the US that are great for camping that you can check out.
So until then, go – your adventures await!