Now that you know how to pitch a tent, we’re sure you would love to know how to make your camping experience comfortable. Here are some tips for living in a tent and organising your gear.
While it’s a bad idea to leave any of your gear outside for the rain to destroy, or the goats and sheep near your camp to munch on, knowing how to organise your gear inside the tent can make your camping experience a lot more comfortable while also maximising living space.
SHARP THINGS AND SMELLY BOOTS
Leave these in the vestibule - the space between the main tent body and the rainfly. The picks of your ice axe and the sharp points on your crampons or microspikes can easily damage and tear the tent fabric. For obvious reasons, you don’t want that happening. Your boots aren’t as violent, but your tent mate probably won’t appreciate the wonderful fragrance that wafts from your boots after a 15 km day. It’ll also keep your tent free of debris and dirt. Try to use a plastic sheet, or the rain cover from your backpack to cover whatever you leave outside to prevent condensation under the tent fly making them wet.
2. EMPTY THAT BACKPACK
If you’re camping in a dry location like Ladakh, you can leave your backpack in the vestibule as well. But if you’re camping in conditions it might rain, or on snow, bring it inside and empty it’s contents. I know it’s painful having to pack your backpack every morning, but so is reaching into its depths every time you’re looking for something. An empty backpack also doesn’t take up as much space inside your tent.
3. MAKE YOURSELF A PILLOW
A pillow can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and tossing and turning throughout the night. The best thing is to invest in an inflatable camp pillow. If you don’t want to do that, use your down jacket - most of them stuff inside their pocket and make for good pillows. If you want to go bulkier and softer, get a stuff sack for for your clothes. It helps organise your clothes better inside your pack, and doubles up as great pillow.
4. A LITTLE AMBIENCE GOES A LONG WAY
Before the sun sets, set up a night light inside your tent. Most tents have either hooks, loops or small gear pockets at the top that you can hook up your headlamp or a spare flashlight to. You won’t have to grab your phone every time you need to look for something, and if you’re a photographer, you can go outside and take some nice photos with your tent all lit up. Plus, it just feels nice.
5. MAKE YOUR SLEEPING BAG WARMER
While sleeping at night, it’s your feet that are most likely to get cold. Stuff the bottom of your bag with dry, warm clothes - they’ll keep your feet warm, soak up any moisture in your sleeping bag, and maximised space inside the tent. Another great trick is to fill up your water bottle with warm water and put it in your sleeping bag - make sure it doesn’t leak though. This will also help if you get thirsty in the middle of the night.
6. DRY OUT WET CLOTHES
If your clothes are only slightly damp, and you’re using a synthetic sleeping bag, stuff them in with some dry clothes and they’ll dry overnight. Note that this will work with slightly sweaty socks and a shirt, but not with really wet clothes. It also won’t work quite as well with a down sleeping bag, since that will just transfer the moisture to your sleeping bag and make it wet. The other options is to set up some string or your tent’s guy lines at the top and hang your clothes on it.
7. PREPARE FOR MIDNIGHT RESTROOM TRIPS
Pee just before you go to bed, and you probably won’t wake up in the middle of the night. Even if you do, place a pair of camp slippers or sandals outside your tent, so you don’t have to wear your boots. And since you know where your headlamp is, you can just grab it before you go.
8. BE GENTLE
Don’t zip up the tent zippers in a hurry, or force a stuck zipper. Look for the piece of stuck fabric that’s jamming the zipper and gently pull it out, while sliding the zipper. If the zipper splits or opens midway, back up and go again. If that doesn’t work, use a pair of pliers and squeeze the slider to give it a stronger hold.
9. SHAKE IT OUT
Before you dismantle and pack up your tent in the morning, turn it upside down, and shake it out to remove and dirt or debris you might have brought in with yourself. This will also ensure you don’t forget anything inside the tent. Don’t forget to clean up after yourself.
10. GET CREATIVE
Fold your tent differently every time you pack it. No, I’m not just trying to make stuff up. Folding your tent the same way every time creates almost-permanent creases. These creases damage the waterproof lining. A little creativity will keep you dry and give your tent a long life.