While many people pack up after the summer season, others head out for some of the best camping of the year. The cooling weather of autumn provides great opportunities for wildlife and enjoying the outdoors bug-free. Trees burst with bright oranges, aspens stand out with yellow leaves that appear to glow. Fall can be one of the most beautiful seasons for a hike in the forest. There’s nothing quite like camping in autumn when warm days hiking and fishing transition to cool, crisp evenings.
If you have never experienced camping in the fall, we highly recommend trying it out. So the bugs and fair-weather campers are gone, and the scenery spectacular. But before you hit the road for your favorite spot, here’s a few things you may want to consider so you and your family are comfortable during your fall adventure.
Headlamp or Lantern
Setting up your tent in under the stars is a common rite of passage for fall campers. In addition to a good light source, it is important to keep both hands available for work.
Any LED variety headlamp will work. For area lighting, the convenience and safety of LED lanterns to conventional liquid fuel models is a plus.
That sleeping bag you've been backpacking with all summer won't cut it this time of year. Typically, for autumn months, a sleeping bag rated between 0°F and 20°F will do the trick. If you're car camping, it's a good idea to pack some extra blankets.
Bring along the thickest, biggest self-inflating foam pad you have. It'll provide cushioning, but most important a sleeping pad insulates you from the cold ground.
Hot Beverage - Accessories
Besides being a great way to start the day, a steaming cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is a quick way to warm your core.
Organizing your gear
Fall camping involves a lot more organization, gear, clothes, and food than a fast-and-light backpacking trip. To make items easily accessible, load your gear into duffel bags separated by usage.
Keeping your hands and feet warm
Although it's not nearly cold enough for full-fledged insulated boots. It can get a little chilly in the mornings and evenings. Foot warmers slipped inside your boots, gloves, or jacket pockets are a great option in case the weather turns chilly. Fleece gloves and acrylic caps are just right for the variable temperatures of fall.
Other clothing considerations
A puffy down jacket may sound like overkill in October, but temperatures in the teens are a real possibility this time of year. Be prepared, you’ll be glad you did. Wool socks & down booties make kicking back on chilly mornings or evenings more enjoyable. A heavier pair of wool socks will keep your feet toasty. Slipping them on after you wake up makes your exit from that warm sleeping bag a much easier task. And remember to include a set of thermal underwear. In the fall, a 20° morning can turn into a 70° afternoon. A good base layer is a great idea when the temperature range is this broad.
In summary, here is a quick checklist of what to pack for fall camping for you and your family:
- A warm, moisture-wicking base layer
- A variety of mid-layers
- A water- and wind-resistant jacket
- Rain jacket or poncho and rain pants
- Sturdy, waterproof boots
- A backup pair of sneakers or boots
- A few pairs of warm socks
- A warm beanie or hat
- Gloves or mittens and a backup pair