Need a weekend getaway? Here's an expert guide to camping

No need to go glamping

Planning a weekend getaway somewhere scenic and adventurous? We’ve got all the right tips and tricks so you don’t end up unprepared in the middle of the forest.

Pack a light tent

An image Obviously it’s ideal to have some sort of shelter to sleep in so you don’t wake up covered in ants! This one from Eastern Mountain Sports is great because it’s waterproof, resilient, and affordable (especially with a student discount!).

Use the right sleeping bag for the season

An image Depending on the season, there are different things you should look for in a sleeping bag. In the summer, sleeping bags aren’t as vital because you won’t get as cold. But, it’s still good to have something to cover you! In the summer, we recommend this one because it’s sturdy, inexpensive, and won’t keep you TOO warm. In the winter, your sleeping bag is a little bit more important. Generally the 2 most important factors of sleeping bags are temperature rating and weight. You can get a sleeping bag for very cold temperatures relatively inexpensively, but it is going to weigh a lot and just be bulky in general. If you have to pack the sleeping bag into a backpack or some other bag this is unappealing. This bag, however, weighs about 5 lbs which is actually not terrible for its rating of 16 degrees. [keep in mind this is the “comfort” temperature. That means you can actually use it in lower temps, but you may get chilly. You can also still use it fully zipped when it’s warmer, but you might get hot. Whether it’s summer or winter, you can get a great sleeping bag at EMS.

Get a sleeping mat

An image Sleeping mats are generally seen as a way to stay cozy against the hard ground, which is definitely important, but they are also critical to keeping warm overnight. You can have the best sleeping bag in the world, but with no sleeping mat, you’re going to end up cold. Your body heat radiates out through any surface it is in contact with, so if you are directly touching the cold/frozen earth, you’re going to get cold fast. This is a very popular sleeping mat because it’s high in quality but low in price. With an insulated layer in between you and the ground, you can stay nice and cozy. If you’re feeling Fancy, this ultra sleeping pad is basically a manual-inflation air mattress. I like the blow up ones better than self inflating ones because they fold up much, much smaller. Self inflating ground pads, while cozy and very easy to set up, are just way too bulky. Grab whichever you prefer at EMS with a student discount.

Don’t bother with a pillow

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Roll up a sweatshirt! Unless you want to live in true luxury, bringing a pillow is just wasting space. Instead, kill 2 birds with 1 stone by using a sweatshirt, or some other article of clothing as your pillow.

Skip the flashlight

An image A headlamp is much, much better than a flashlight because when camping, you’re going to find yourself needing the extra hand that you would be using to hold the flashlight. So, you end up holding the flashlight in your mouth so you can use both your hands, but it moves all over the place and falls out, and... who really wants to put a flashlight in their mouths, anyway? Headlamps are way more practical. I have this one from EMS. It’s comfortable, and it’s pretty inexpensive compared to lots of other headlamps.

Stock up on MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)

An image In the morning, I recommend granola bars or, even better, oatmeal. It’s tasty (you can get flavored kinds) and pretty nutritious. It’ll warm you up give you the energy you need to pack up camp in the morning. For lunch, you’ll want to pack a sandwich to save money. But when it comes to dinner, there are so many great things about MREs, specifically Mountain House brand. They’re actually delicious. You look at this bag of dried beef and vegetables and you think it is going to be the nastiest thing you’ve ever tried, but in reality they’re just as good, if not better than, many similar dishes you would find in standard restaurants.

Of the ones I’ve tried from EMS this is my favorite. To make things better, they’re incredibly cheap. One bag is only $9 and it has 2 SERVINGS! That’s $4.50 a person for dinner. And don’t worry- it’s really 2 servings. I eat a lot of food and if I split one of these bags with a friend I’m going to be pretty full at the end of the meal. Best of all, it’s so easy to make! Just add water! That’s it! And, I mean, college students are PROS at this after making so much Ramen. And don’t forget about dessert- they have that too! To cook your food, bring an old pot or tea kettle from home or grab a stowaway pot like this one from EMS. Since you are packing lunch and eating an MRE and instant oatmeal the only thing you need to cook is boiling water. Just make sure you don’t forget your fork/spoon/spork!

Make a note

An image Bring a notebook (hello, Moleskine) to journal! Journaling is always a fun way to remember your adventures when you want to look back on it, whether it be the next day or years later. Plus, it’s fun to doodle in the tent or at the top of a mountain or wherever.

Don’t forget the tunes

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If you’re out of wifi, or cell service, you want to make sure you have music to listen to. Apple Music is great because they have some awesome weekend playlists. These are my favorite playlists within each of these categories:

Make sure you bring a speaker to play your for the whole forest, too! Ultimate Ears speakers are great, ESPECIALLY for camping. They’re waterproof, dust proof, drop proof, and have HUGE, clear, and dynamic sound. This is a nice, small one that will be easy to pack, but give great sound. Not to mention it floats, which is pretty cool.

Document it

An image Doing anything adventurous? Get it on video so you can remember it forever! The new Hero 7 Black has GoPro’s new HyperSmooth video and is unlike any GoPro before. And it’s not a gimmick, this is real, gimbal quality stabilization within a gopro. Enjoying more of a casual weekend? The Hero 7 White is still a great option with all the standard greatness of the GoPro, but much more appealing to those on a budget.

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