What to Expect in the Harsh Camping Months
Avid campers know that camping is different with the changing seasons. The harsher the environment, the least you can expect things to turn out the same as they did the last time you were there. Certain seasons are harder to camp in then others which is why campers prefer to go camping at certain times of the year. Other campers have no fear of the harder terrain or environmental challenges that await them in the harder months and they know what to expect.
This is written for those looking to brave the harsh camping months and gives you an idea of what to expect when camping during those times. Since different terrain will also affect your camping experience this article is limited to beaches and forest only. Jungles and Deserts are entirely different climates although some of the same principles may apply. What you pack and what you don’t pack might differ however.
The summer months are the hardest for some people because of the heat. Depending on where you plan on camping it can be hard for different reasons. If you like the beach you might need to contend with crowds as everyone will want to flock there because of the water. There will also only be certain locations you can camp, and more restrictions when it comes to fires. The nights tend to be cooler because of the ocean surf. If you are camping in the forest the heat can be stifling, but the shade from the trees at least protects you from the sun.
Pros: The summer months mean that there are less likely to be campers. Unless you happen to be camping near a lake that is. Most campers avoid this season the most, making it ideal for more privacy if you like to camp away from people. Wild animals are more likely to stay in their dens during the day because of the heat. The trees provide shade from the sun when you are in the forest, although the heat can still reach through in some places. Beach campers get the most out of the summer months so long as you can secure a spot. The ocean breeze is great at night, and the surf provides a soothing sensation when you sleep. The warm sand is perfect to sleep on, even if you are in a tent. Less gear is required for certain things, at least a lighter sleeping bag and tent are in order, although you might need more water. You can sleep outside such as in a hammock tied in a tree!
Cons: The worst part about the summer is the bugs. Camping in the forest means there are more insects to contend with. Not as bad along the beach due to the salty air and the breeze. Any bug that is a bug will be out in the forest however, so be sure and pack insect repellent. You will also need to stay hydrated more, but your water won’t be as cool or even cold at times. While warm water is going to hurt you, it’s not as quenching on a hot day.
Fires can be a problem both on the beach and in the forest when you are camping during the summer months. Some campsites might even ban fires altogether if the weather is too dry, or only have you light fires in pits or designated areas. If you have a camp fire though, be sure and keep it safe and make sure it is completely out before you break camp.
The winter weather is different in each area. For some people that means a lot of rain, for others it could mean snow. Either way it gets colder than at any other time of the year and has its own dangers to face. It can also mean a lot of fun for the family as you will get to spend time together, even if it is confined together for a little while. It’s a great time to snuggle since you need to huddle together to get warm at times. Some places will close due to flooding, cold weather or bad roads, so plan your trip accordingly and make sure you know what the dangers are before you head out.
Pros: For beach dwellers there are far fewer people on the beach in the winter than in any other month. This makes for great pickings when it comes to a camping spot. Parking is also more available, and ideal for those in campers traveling the country. For those in the forest you can expect to see fewer wild animals as many of them might be hiding, hibernating, or keeping warm in their dens. However, depending on how deep you are in the forest, and how late into winter it is, wild animals you do encounter could be more aggressive.
The snow can be a great insulator for your tent, and if you happen to set up camp before it snows, the ground will stay warm and your tent could be better for it. The snow provides a water source as well as some fun adventure. Heat and melt the snow for a constant supply of water, and the family can build snow men or go sledding.
Cons: Camping in the winter means that you need more clothes, more gear, and more ways to stay warm. A camping heater comes in handy, but all this extra gear is more to carry and can slow you down. Finding dry firewood could be a problem since everything is either wet from the rain, or buried under snow. You won’t travel far in the forest due to low visibility if it is raining or snowing, and it could make it easier to get lost. For those on the beach it could mean high surf, riptides, high winds which could rip your tent right out of the ground. (Unlike camping in the forest where you can stake your tent to the ground, the sand doesn’t provide the same support.