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6 Simple Camping Hacks for Reluctant Campers

For me, the call of the wild buzzes tumultuously in my ears. Wait, no, those are bees! Run!

OK, let’s try again. For me, the call of the wild ricochets in the depths of my heart. Any chance I get to get out into nature, be it for a day hike, an overnight camping trip, or a multi-day excursion, I take it. I find few substantial pleasures than standing atop a mountain summit or sitting beside a crackling campfire, hiking through a forest of towering trees, or paddling over the open waters of the bay.

For some people, however, the call of the wild is usually sent via voicemail. To put it simply, not everyone is fond of camping, hiking, climbing, or generally roughing it out there. And that’s all right.

If you have a friend, a relative, or special someone who is less-than-enthused by outdoor excursions (or if you yourself are a reluctant camper), here are a couple of tips and tricks that can make it a bit less rough.

Bring Products to Help You Keep Clean

The biggest hang-up of many reluctant outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen is cleanliness. Back in civilization, I wash my hands at least five or six times a day, and I often shower twice daily. While out in the woods, on the other hand, I’m OK with getting pretty grimy for a few days. (Actually, I still like clean hands, which is why I self-apply much of this next advice.)

Bring along products like HyperGo Full Body Wipes. These are essentially extra-large baby wipes designed for use by adults; use three or four of them at one time to approximate a quick shower. Combining a dollop of hand sanitizer with a large wipe can give you a decent backcountry hand washing while using one with a bit of facial cleanser is almost as good as standing at the sink.

Then there’s the reliable solar shower. You fill these large pouches with water, leave them in a patch of sunlight to warm them, then hang them from a tree and use gravity and a miniature shower head to give yourself a good cleansing. Or for maximum comfort, anyway, in my experience; we’ve found some of the best portable showers for your convenience.

And of course, it almost goes without saying that you bring lots of baby wipes with you! I usually grab a full 80-wipe packet if I’m going for a one or two-night car camp. You never know what’s going to happen out there.

Replace Your Sleeping Bag with Something Better

If you don’t like tucking yourself into a sleeping bag, why not use something different? An air mattress or a sleeping pad is great, but if you and/or your reluctant camping buddy want to be up off the ground, just bring along a camping cot. The Helinox Lite Cot weighs about two and a half pounds and packs down small enough to fit into a duffel or large hiking pack, yet it can easily support an average adult’s body weight.

And don’t worry, you don’t have to bring your fine linens from home. Instead, get some peel-away sheets from Peel Away Labs and you can enjoy soft, waterproof, genuinely comfortable sheets that are 100% disposable. Sleep on the sheets for a few nights then, once you feel they’re getting a bit soiled, peel off a layer, and reveal brand new sheets underneath.

As for your blanket, I recommend the Klymit Versa. It offers the warmth of a sleeping bag without the encapsulation many people dislike, but there’s a nifty built-in foot box you can use if your toes get cold.

Invest in Quality Camping Furniture

Whether you keep it, extra lightweight, with Helinox chairs and a packable table or you bring along full-sized camping chairs, make sure you have good campsite furniture so your hesitant backwoods buddy can take a load off in style out there.

While I have yet to find a camping hammock in which I love spending an entire night, camping hammocks are great for naps or for simply using to chill out for a while. They pack down so small that you might as well bring one along even if you’re not sure it will get much use.

Get the Right Gear for the Temperature Outside

When it’s warm out, tents tend to get hot. Like seriously unpleasantly hot. Like, even I was considering calling it quits and driving two hours home in the middle of the night this past summer because it was so damn hot.

Hanging a lightweight tent fan at the top of your tent can reduce the temperature inside by multiple degrees, making a shelter much more habitable. Or you could use a Zero Breeze battery-powered portable air conditioner that’s about the size of a retro boom box and that can lower the interior of a tent (or a vehicle or small room) down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Not that you’ll need it that cold, but you could do it if you wanted.

On the other hand, cold weather can be as much a deterrent to camping as the heat. You can keep your reluctant camper warm with a campfire and good cold weather apparel, but once it’s time to move into the tent for the night, the fire has to stay outside, and sleeping in a parka isn’t much fun.

Strategically placed hand warmers are a good start and a warm bottle of water tucked into a sleeping bag helps, too. But to get things seriously toasty, get a portable propane heater like the Mr. Heater Big Buddy and enjoy a tent that’s as warm as any room in your home.

Splurge on Food

Don’t skimp on your camp meals. Serve feasts and your city-dweller might just be willing to join you in the wild again in the future. That could mean investing in a decent portable camping grill for grilling steak and fancy hot dogs or just investing in snacks like beef jerky.

Make Your Campsite a Bug-Free Zone

Yes, there’s a food chain, all living things are important, etc. But few things make a camp-out less enjoyable than armies of ants, buzzing bees, ticks, mosquitoes, and Goliath Birdeater spiders. Burning sage in your campfire smells great and can help ward off some bugs, but I say you use science on the situation.

Pre-treat your tent and furniture with an insect repellent rich in Permethrin (spray it onto fabrics the day before you’re headed out and give the stuff at least four hours to dry) and treat your skin with a formula that uses Picaridin. The Sawyer brand makes great examples of both. I know that because I used the stuff all summer long.

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