You know that feeling?
It’s not quite light. You have been awake on and off for the last two hours. Your head is buried inside your sleeping bag so that your breath can help keep you warm. You are dreading what is coming next. You know you can’t fall back to sleep, and exiting your sleeping bag to a rush of cold air while you scramble to put on enough layers to achieve the same level of warmth you have in your sleeping bag is NOT something you want to do. But you have to. Nature calls. Yup. That’s the feeling…the feeling of camping!
Now, to be clear, I am not talking about camping in a camp trailer or RV. Those are great options, but you haven’t lived until you’ve awakened in a tent when there is frost on the ground and your water bottle is half frozen after a experiencing a near sleepless night on the hard cold ground. Someday I’ll likely buy a camp trailer, but until then a tent is my preferred outdoor abode.
I prefer to go camping in the spring (though fall is good too). I am exaggerating slightly about the coldness, but I will take a cold early spring night over a hot summer night any day. Spring camping, in my book, is anytime prior to Memorial Day. Once you reach the end of May, it starts to get hot and kids are getting out of school and summer activities begin in full force.
I thought of at least six reason to go camping in the spring. Most of these have to do with the weather. Some of you live in areas where you are either far enough north or high enough in elevation that even in the middle of summer it feels like what I (and anyone from the south or midwest) would consider “springlike.” If you live in one of those areas…I am jealous.
6 Reasons to go camping in the spring
1. Cool spring evening are made for campfires.
Why is it that we as a people can sit around a campfire and stare at the flames for hours? It’s soothing, even mesmerizing. But a campfire on a hot, humid summer night…no thanks. It’s hard to enjoy the fire when you are already hot and sweaty and trying to cool off. However, when the temps drop into the 50’s or 60’s and you actually want more warmth, a campfire is a treat! Just try not to melt your shoes as you kick back and put your feet up on the fire ring…not that I’ve every done that.
2. Cool spring nights are made for sleeping bags.
Sleeping bags are a staple of camping. They are convenient and portable. But in mid-summer, they are merely a heat-generating, sleep-robbing, sweat-soaking sponge. On a cool night, however, there is nothing more cozy…except maybe when you zip your sleeping bag and your wife’s together into one big one.
3. You don’t sweat so much.
I don’t know that I can emphasize this one enough. This is my big beef with summer camping, at least in the midwest. The heat and humidity turn me into a sweat-soaked, grumpy, overheated, unhappy camper. If the low temperatures at night are predicted to stay in the 70’s, I will stay home. I can handle a warm day if it will at least cool off in the mornings and evenings.
4. The taste of camp coffee on a cold spring morning.
Need I say more? Even cheap grocery store coffee brewed in an old camp percolator over a fire tastes like a five dollar specialty coffee from that hipster place downtown (you know, the one where everyone has full beards, plastic rim glasses and skinny jeans) when brewed over a fire and enjoyed on a cold, spring morning. Quite frankly, everything tastes better when camping.
5. There are fewer bugs.
Smack! Stupid mosquitos…not so much in the spring. Granted, there are some crawling or flying creatures that start coming out even in March, but they are nothing compared to the windshield-smearing messes that emerge with the heat of summer and converge on anyone stupid enough to be outside. In spring you can enjoy camping without accidentally inhaling and tasting DEET while your kids soak themselves in bug spray.
6. There are fewer people.
This is an IMPORTANT one! If you have ever camped near some loud and rowdy neighbors who thinking camping is about drinking beer, opening the doors of the pickup and blasting the radio, then you’ll love spring camping when there are plenty of empty spots. You can often have several camping spots between you and any neighbors. In fact, plan a spring camping trip during the workweek and you’ll likely have the place to yourself save for a few retired people, but they are seldom loud.
So, what are you waiting for?
Get outdoors and give camping a try. All you need are a few ordinary supplies, a tent, and a sleeping bag. If you need some guidance, be sure to check out Our Faves for a few recommended items.
How about you? What do you love (or hate) about camping?