Monday, September 17, 2012

The Great Outdoors and How to Survive it

A tunnel tent made by Hilleberg
tent  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Camping shouldn’t mean you have to be a bearded, half-crazed survivalist, but with the British weather as it is at the moment, you could end up wishing you’d listened to all those tips for life in the great outdoors.  Camping offers the original budget break, but with the poor conditions to contend with this year, it could offer the original breakdown as well.  Here are a few tips on the wet survival and sanity front.
Tent essentials

Tents should be checked thoroughly for waterproofing before you go.  The outer skin and groundsheet are the most important bits to check – invest in an extra groundsheet to add extra damp-proofing.  Consider an additional tarpaulin that can be slung over the tent to add extra protection from all that rain, and use an inflatable mattress to keep you even further from the damp ground.

Cooking and Heating
Choose a tent that has an adequate porch/entry area that’s sheltered and protected in which you can cook safely.  Staying dry and warm inside is great, but not so great if you have to cook in a force ten gale accompanied by torrential rain.  The entrance should have adequate space to manoeuvre and cook safely, without getting wet but still with adequate ventilation.  Do not, under any circumstances, be tempted to use the stove as additional heating overnight.

Drying Room
Create wet and dry storage areas.  Where possible get wet clothes dried in a laundry room on the camp site and ensure that your wet and dry areas are kept strictly separate.  If you have to dry clothes in the tent you’ll need ventilation; condensation in the tent will as cause as much dampness as letting all that lovely, fresh, healthy rain in.

Light layered clothing
In terms of clothes you’ll have to accept that you’re going to get wet while out and about this year.  Try to have warm, dry clothes for evenings in the tent and light weight easy dry clothing for hiking, sailing and general gambolling around in the fields.  Less is more in rainy weather, and if you’re staying active you’ll not feel the cold too badly, but have additional layers to hand to protect against wind chill.
Packing precautions

If you are camping and hiking don’t over-pack your rucksack when setting off.  If you have to carry damp kit, which is unavoidable sometimes, it’s not only heavier but will also take up more space.  If you’re camping with the car and want to move around take plenty of towels to dry off the wet tent before striking camp.  This will help to dry it more quickly and allow you to get moving, towels will ring out (which a tent won’t) and they can be relatively easily dried off.

For wet weather camping (a.k.a. camping in the UK) tents should be good quality and lightweight.  Wet and dry areas in the tent helps to ensure you’ve a warm dry change of clothes for those evenings ‘in’ and outdoor clothing which should be light and easy to dry.

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