Ah, the great outdoors. Nothing like taking in fresh air, warm sunshine and a cool breeze.
Unfortunately, when camping – especially in New York State, you can’t always anticipate sunshine and clear skies. On the bright side, with many advancements in gear, clothing and weather forecasting, there’s no excuse to stay home when the weather is bad.
Camping has become a year-round activity for all nature lovers who are willing to bear the sunshine and snow alike. While you always try and plan your trips around the weather, you can’t always be prepared for those unexpected storms or bad days.
These bad weather camping tips and tricks will help you get through even the most ominous weather you encounter.
First and foremost, get weather forecasts.
There’s no way to completely eliminate the chance of unexpected weather surprises, but there is a way to limit it. Check weather forecasts online or on your phone near or around your next camping destination. Not only are these services easy to use, but they’re extremely convenient; Some even can text live weather updates.
No service? No problem. Weather radios can serve as a go-to backup plan. Albeit a bit ‘old school,’ they are pretty reliable. Ranging from simple battery-operated weather alert units to crank-type radios that require no batteries at all, weather radios might be that one item to pack that gives you that full camping feel.
Don’t Rain on My Parade
Rain is perhaps the most underestimated danger to campers. A little bit of water can sometimes create a lot of problems. But there’s always solutions to deal with these natural occurrences in a calm and logical manner.
Find elevation. Did you know it only takes about 18 to 24 inches of water for the average vehicle to float? It’s best to stay on high grounds until the rain and flooding subsides. While rain in the forecast can discourage some campers, with the right gear, there is no need to cancel your plans. Instead, you can prepare accordingly and relax in comfort, listening to the sound of rain on your tent, RV or motorhome.
So what happens when it starts to storm? Sure, lightning can be fun to watch from a distance, but you don’t want to be guessing where it might strike next. In contrast to the precautions you’d take to avoid the rain, with lightning, you actually do not want to be the tallest object around – or even near it for that matter. Lightning is attracted to whatever is closest to it. Seeking shelter at the base of a large or tall tree is something to avoid during a heavy storm.
Lightning has been known to travel miles before striking the ground. If you see it, take cover. The 30/30 rule suggests that if you see a flash and thunder reaches you in 30 seconds or less, find shelter. Wait another 30 minutes after the last lightning strike and thunder before resuming any activities.
• Anything BUT cotton fabrics
• Waterproof bags/tent
• Waterproof matches/lighter
• Rain boots, rain jacket
• No-cook meals
• Hand and foot warmers
Be Wary of Wind
Hiking and camping offers very little protection from high winds – especially at higher elevations where trees are likely to have shallow roots. If you find that high winds find you on your next camping trip, seek shelter in a heavy, solid structure.
Flatlands without ground cover will blow around dirt and gravel, which can pose as a serious hazard – not to mention all of the other things that can blow around depending on the speed of the wind.
Hot vs. Cold
It may seem obvious to pack for your trip based on the expected temperatures, but the planet is always changing. It’s important to anticipate dramatic changes in weather no matter what. You cannot control the weather, but you can adapt to it – especially if you pack appropriately.
Ideally, living in an air-conditioned motorhome or trailer is the way to go when it’s hot out, but it’s important to be prepared should the power fail – or if it’s not available at all.
The idea is to pack light – literally! Light colored fabrics can reflect the sun’s rays and will keep you much cooler than darker colors. Polyester and nylon are two comfortable fabrics to consider when packing as well. A baseball hat is also a must to keep your head from overheating. You’ll want to equip yourself with lighter, cooler bedding for your tent. Light sheets and blankets will work better than a stuffy, warm sleeping bag.
Lastly, bring water – and lots of it. Above all else, it’s important to stay hydrated. An ice cooler is a smart idea to keep all refreshments nice and cool on the particularly hot days.
So what about when it’s cold?
When the temperature plunges, you really only need the basics: long sleeved shirts and pants, sweatshirts and warm socks. If for some reason you might be anticipating extra cold weather, mittens, a parka and a beanie might not be a bad idea to pack away with you as well. Make fire when necessary. Warm up not only your food, but even your clothes and sleeping gear so you can get warm and toasty even quicker.
The bottom line is to plan ahead. There are all different types of camping weather. Get a feel for the conditions you’ll be exposed to, get updates as frequently as possible and prepare for whatever surprises the weather may bring. Like most preventative measures, dealing with bad weather starts long before you hit the trail. Be sure to have all the proper gear to get you through any of Mother Nature’s curveballs.