Early fall best time for camping

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2002

By By Ben Norman, Outdoors Columnist
Early fall is one of the best times of the year to introduce yourself or someone else to the pleasures of camping. There are two camping conditions that will turn off first time campers faster than anything I know of– camping when its too hot or too cold. If you have sweated through a breezeless August night or shivered until a November Sun peaked over the horizon, you know what I mean.
Camping is often associated with other outdoor sports such as hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. To many, camping is just a necessity that facilitates the enjoyment of their favorite sport. To others, camping is their favorite sport.
Modern camping equipment has changed the meaning of "roughing it," especially when you compare today's equipment with that used 40 years ago. I began camping in the mid 50's with army surplus sleeping bags and shelter halves. Anyone who has ever spent the night in a wet, chopped chicken feather insulated sleeping bag will have a newfound respect for out servicemen who had to fight and survive in frigid climates.
Sporting good stores and large discount stores have every gadget a camper can possibly need. With such a large selection of equipment, it is very easy to end up packing more equipment than is needed.
Start by selecting a good tent and sleeping bag. If you are backpacking, a light 2 or 3 person tent will be ideal. If you can drive up to a campsite that is equipped with water and electrical service, a larger tent will afford more comfort. A good rule of thumb is to occupy the tent with approximately half the number of people it is rated for. A tent rated for 6 persons, is just about right for 3 adults and their gear.
A good sleeping bag can be worth its weight in gold when the temperature plunges. An inexpensive, lightly insulated bag will be fine for summer camping, as you will spend more time on top of it than in it. But if you take a trip to a state or national park located at a higher elevation, things can get pretty chilly even in September during the predawn hours. A bag rated in the 0 to 30 degree range will usually be adequate for southern fall camping.
Modern camp stoves and lanterns are much lighter and compact than their predecessors. Some of the new air mattress will allow one to get better nights sleep than some motel beds will. The disadvantage is one has to inflate and deflate them.
Throw in a folding grill for cooking ribs over an open fire and a coffee pot so you can sip hot coffee as the temperature falls. Crawl into a toasty warm bag and listen to the owls hoot from a distant ridge as you began to dream about how good those eggs, grits and bacon are going to taste for breakfast.

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