Camping is a great way to get into the outdoors, slow down, and enjoy time with friends and family. However, camping can also get uncomfortable, cold, and wet in winter without the right gear and planning. (For example, if you plan to tackle the Golan Trail during February-March when it is the most attractive). You can get by with minimal gear and prep, but if you’re car camping or glamping, these tips will help you have a comfortable and fun experience!
Pick the Right Campsite
Before you set out, make sure you find the right place to set up for the night. Have a Google, read reviews, and see which site sounds best for your trip. Regardless of where you choose, we recommend calling beforehand to get an idea of ground conditions and recent weather. You don’t want to find yourself camping on the muddy ground accidentally. You’ll also want to consider how many people you’re camping with, the amount of space you want, and what you plan to do while you’re there. If you’re going to do some hiking during the day, many sites will have good walking trails nearby. If you want to go kayaking or swimming, a site by a lake or river might be the best choice. Finally, while a lot of sites do offer beautiful views, not all are Instagram-famous level. Consider what views you want, whether that’s mountains, ocean, or forest.
Pick the Right Tent
Regardless of all your other planning, if you bring the wrong tent, your camping experience will be significantly less comfortable. There are many different types of tents with all sorts of luxuries or extra features. Still, the most important things to consider with your tent are waterproofing, space, vestibules, and ventilation. Even if you don’t plan on camping in the rain, you still want to be prepared. Choosing a tent with a rainfly or integrated waterproofing is a must-have. Along with waterproofing, adequate ventilation will make a huge difference in keeping you dry throughout the night because it reduces condensation from your breath. Look for double-walled tents with a mesh-top inner layer and venting around the sides or top. Ventilation is also a key factor when selecting a tent for warm weather, to keep the interior of the tent from overheating.
As far as space goes, at the very least, you need a tent that will fit your group. If you’re car camping, you may want to increase that space as you don’t need to worry about weight in this case. Plus, you can spread out with more space and really get comfortable with extras like an air mattress, blankets, pillows, a rug, or even some chairs. Vestibules are the spaces just outside your tent that the rainfly still keeps dry. These are best for storing gear, dirty shoes, or bags that you want to stay dry, but don’t need in the tent. Bigger vestibules can also provide a sheltered place your group can hang out in.
Type of Tent
There is an endless amount of different tents out there to choose from, so we won’t go into all your options. In general, the main categories to consider are cabin tents, free-standing tents, pop up or instant tents, hammock shelters, open tarp shelters, or trailers. If you’re planning a multi-day hike, then finding a portable and easy to pith tent is going to be your best bet. Backpacking tents tend to be lightweight because you’ll be carrying it on your back for the majority of the hike.
Israel’s winters are mild, so this list of tents for warm weather is relevant for camping in Israel.
Practice Pitching Your Tent at Home
Before you set out with your newly acquired tent and hit the trail, make sure you test out pitching your tent at home. This way, you can take your time figuring out the best way to get your tent up quickly and correctly before having to do it on-site. It will also ensure you have everything you need for the tent and help you avoid making easy mistakes like misplacing a pole or having weird sagging areas that could collect water.
Prioritize a Good Night’s sleep
There are few things worse while camping than trying to sleep on a crumby sleeping pad and never getting comfortable. It simply spoils the whole experience, and you’ll wake up cranky and sore!
Mattress/ Sleeping Pad:
Air mattresses or self-inflating mattresses can be great for this while not taking as much space as a full mattress. If you plan to camp with your partner, a double air mattress can bring your tent comfort to the next level. If you’re backpacking, then a full-sized air mattress will probably be too cumbersome to carry. With that in mind, there are several high-quality sleeping pads out there that are designed specifically for hiking.
For conserving space, you can get inflatable or compressible camp pillows that still keep your head and neck comfortable without taking up too much space. Of course, this is incredibly important when backpacking, as you’re going to be extremely limited by space.
Your sleeping bag will make the difference between a cold, miserable night and a warm, cozy one. For couples, a double sleeping bag or quilt may be the way to go, but just know they’re slightly less efficient than their single counterparts. Down sleeping bags have more of that plush warmth and will keep you warm at lower temperatures. Synthetic bags will keep you warm even if they get wet and give you that sturdy, weighted feel of a regular blanket. When backpacking in Israel, mild or hot weather is not uncommon. In that case, leave the heavy and warm sleeping bag at home and opt for a very light and breathable sleeping bag, or “sleeping bag liners” (The type used in European hiking huts).
Israel’s winters are mild, so this list of sleeping bags for warm weather is relevant for Israel winter camping.
Take Your Food to the Next Level
Make camping that much more of a treat by planning delicious meals you can make outside. Take advantage of a campfire with things like a dutch oven, open flame grilling, and classic marshmallow roasting for S’mores. Dutch ovens let you cook fantastic meals like stews and soups over an open fire, but you can also bake amazing desserts like pies, cinnamon rolls, or bread. If a Dutch oven is a bit heavy for your trip, there’s a number of specialized backpacking frying pans that are lightweight, easy to clean, and easy to carry. Personally, I like the MSR Quick Skillet, as it has an adjustable handle that allows you to store the pan easily and reduce its footprint in your pack. You can really take your food to the next level with a bit of seasoning. Simply mix up a spice mix in a zip lock bag and sprinkle onto your food. It is lightweight and easy to carry, and helps to easily create some tasty food after a hard day on the trail.
Take Appropriate Clothing
Just as you would layer up on a hike, the same should be done at the campsite, especially if you’re camping in cold weather or rain. Before you leave, you’ll also want to check the weather to see how cold it might get at night and whether or not you need rain gear. A pair of flip flops or slippers with rubber bottoms can also be extremely useful around the campsite when you don’t want to wear clunky hiking boots. You’ll be incredibly grateful for these slip-on shoes when you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night
Bring Ease of Life & Comfort Accessories
Once you have the basics, you can add extras for the comfort of home. Lanterns can hang in your tent or light up a card game at night. You can probably get by with your phone’s photo flashlight, but a lantern and a headlamp will provide more light and be easier to use. If your campsite doesn’t have running water, you’ll especially want to bring enough water or a water purifier with you.
Organize Your Gear and Belongings
With all this gear, remember that none of it matters if you can’t find it. Try to keep things organized by separating items up into different compartments of your bag. This way, you’ll know where everything is.
- In the end, your camping experience will be what you make of it.
- You’ll probably forget something and have to improvise – that’s OK.
- Keep an open mind, take time to unplug, and enjoy your surroundings!