Spring is just a few weeks away and everyone is itching to get outside as the days get warmer and longer. Spring weather can fool you however; this transitional time of year can bring unexpected snow or unexpected heat. Here in Texas during early spring, the days can be hot, but the nights chilly. Of course, in the South spring is our time for thunderstorms, rain and tornadoes.
The weather won’t stop many of us from planning our spring camping trips. To prevent a spring camping disaster, plan now for whatever weather may occur.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a wetter than average early spring for Texas—where I am—so getting the camping gear waterproofed is a priority. I’ve had a shoddy, leaky tent before and it really made for an uncomfortable weekend.
At least a week go out camping, pull out all your gear and do an all over equipment inspection. Depending on where you store your gear, rats and bugs may have made themselves at home or worse yet chewed holes. Your tent, sleeping bag and air mattress will need checking for damage, holes and leaks. Your cooking gear will need a good cleaning.
Set your tent up in the backyard as you would at a campsite and give it the once-over. If there are fixable holes, patch them up with a tent repair or patch kit. Coughlan’s tent repair kit contains waterproof canvas material, a needle, thread and a tube of canvas cement. Gear Aid’s seam grip pad repairs tents, sleeping bags and air mattresses.
To reinforce your tent, you can use a seam sealer on the floor and the rain fly. Then use a waterproofing spray all over. Make sure you waterproof a few days before your trip, as many of these products need a chance to dry.
If it is time for a new tent, the best waterproof tent will have a one-piece tub floor, waterproof seam tape, no seams around the floor of the tent, and have a dry entry way. PahaQue’s Green Mountain tent’s floor, rain fly and sidewall seams are all seam-taped. The rain fly has an extended awning to keep gear dry, or during a light drizzle a place to sit and stay dry. The tub floor extends three inches up the wall to prevent water from seeping in.
To prevent moisture from getting into the bottom of your tent, place a tarp on the ground first. For extra protection, cover the inside tent floor with a tarp also.
If you tent is in good shape and you don’t want to invest in any new pricey equipment, stock up on a few affordable tarps and paracord. You can make rain flies, makeshift shelters and eating covers out of some rope and a plastic tarp.
When looking for a place to pitch your tent, pick the highest ground where rainfall won’t drain into your camp.
In case the weather has been consistently rainy before your trip, prepare for wood to be so saturated it is unusable for a campire. Always have a backup plan for cooking. I prefer to take a propane stove, but military stoves and fuel will also work.
Because of temperamental weather, you may need to pack more clothes than normal. Dressing in layers will keep you comfortable throughout the day and night when it gets cooler. Ponchos and rain suits will be beneficial if you are primitive camping and do not have much in the way of shelter. Hoodies are my favorite layering item.
For early spring camping in less cold climates, you will not need a 0 degree-rated sleeping bag, however, you will need to stay warm. If you have a basic, warmer-weather sleeping bag, there is no need to upgrade for spring camping, but you will want an extra liner. I prefer fleece. Fleece keeps you extra warm and cozy. Even though the Browning camping fleece bag works well on its own, it is perfect to line your regular sleeping bag. If you need a new bag, the Czech Army surplus sleep system goes from winter camping to summer camping with a liner and bivvy cover. For under $20, you won’t find a better all-season bag.
I remember a camping trip with my parents who planned for perfect weather all weekend. When it rained solid the first day we were out, I said, “Can’t we just go to a hotel?” If you aren’t prepared with some entertainment for the kids while you sit out the rain, you know the natives will get restless. Being relatively close to a town means you can explore the local museum, historical site or antique mall. If you are far out, take cards, board games, books and arts and crafts so the kids don’t get bored.
Do you have any camping tips or a disastrous camping trip story to share? We would love to hear about it in the comment section.
To be even more prepared, read the following blogs: