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The Ultimate Summer 2020 Camping Guide

It’s about that time to get outside!

Tracy Block Staff Reporter
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Enjoy WALKING & HIKING With These Apps
Science backs up what we already all know: spending time outdoors improves our mental health. It’s been an incredibly difficult year, and spending time outside and in the wilderness is soothing to the soul, body, and mind.
- Lia Garcia, cofounder of the Practical Wanderlust blog


Camping is one of the great American pastimes. And, what better a time than now to disconnect from the reality of the lingering pandemic and get in touch with the great outdoors, instead? However, if you are still on the fence about a summer camping adventure, consider these results from a recently released COVID-19-centric 2020 North American Camping Report published by KOA.com:

• Regular campers still plan on camping this summer, while non-campers are now showing interest in the pastime due to COVID-19.

• Leisure travelers rank camping as the safest form of travel to resume once restrictions are lifted.

• Camping, along with road trips, may supplement other types of planned trips in 2020.

• Interest in RV camping is on the rise, due to concerns surrounding the cleanliness of hotels, as is interest in avoiding communal facilities.

• COVID-19 will impact how campers camp – from group size to selecting closer-to-home destinations and accommodations.

• Leisure travelers are most looking forward to spending time outdoors, once it is safe to travel again.

How to Pack for a Summer Camping Trip

Now that you’re confident enough to hit the road and enjoy a summer camping adventure, it’s time to get packing! For suggestions on a basic camping checklist, we tapped Bret Love, sustainable travel and living expert and co-founder and editor in chief of Green Global Travel and Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide. Love’s basic camper checklist consists of:

• A tent that is solidly built, preferably roomy, waterproof, and fairly easy to set up.

• A sleeping bag and sleeping pad made for the temperatures you’re likely to encounter.

• A backpack suited to the exploring you want to do, whether it’s backcountry trekking or easy day hikes.

• A pair of hiking boots or shoes that are rugged, and ideally, waterproof.

• A camp stove and pots/pans in which to cook (or firewood if you’re using a campsite grill).

• A selection of comfort items, like hammocks and camping chairs.

Additionally, Love has some new, trendy items on his 2020 radar to share. “There are a few that we recommend and often use personally,” shares Love. “In terms of tents, we like the Big Agnes Titan 4 MtnGLO package, which includes a 90-square-foot, 4-person tent, footprint, and 34-square-foot vestibule that allows you to use it as a double-wall family tent or separate shelter. It’s too heavy for backpacking, but perfect for car or base camping. We also love the portable Crazy Creek Crazy Legs Aluminum Roll-Up Table and the GCI Outdoor RoadTrip Rocker Chair.” Furthermore, as you do your camping trip shopping, Love recommends trustworthy, top-of-the-line brands like Kelty, MSR, Sea to Summit, Camp Chef, and Tentsile.

Safety Gear for Camping

When it comes to camping, you can never be too prepared – and this includes taking safety precautions. An adventure in nature is the purest form of leisure; however, you must consider the elements and wildlife that surround you. For example, a first-aid kit is essential to have on hand. “The main things you need are bandages, antibiotic ointment, Benadryl, Aspirin/Tylenol, and aloe for sunburns,” offers Love, who suggests the pre-packed bundles from Adventure Medical Kits.

Beyond first-aid, Love says bug repellant is essential, and that pepper spray can be a vital tool if you’re exploring areas where bear encounters are likely. However, Love reminds campers that the most important tools, when it comes to wildlife, are education and common sense. “Maintain a respectful distance from wildlife at all times, keep food where bears can’t get to it, and watch carefully on hiking trails for snakes – who like to hide under rocks and fallen trees.”

Moreover, even if you are dedicated to disconnecting from technology, a phone is important to have on hand, in case of emergency – and for access to Google Maps or your favorite GPS app. So, make sure to pack a portable phone charger battery. “Otherwise, Motorola Walkie Talkies are great for communication over short distances,” explains Love. Still, the Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent is a nifty invention that both wards off mosquitos and charges your phone, thanks to it’s a convenient USB port.

Finally, don’t forget about protein bars (Love says 20 grams of protein per bar is ideal) and your water supply! Instead of lugging gallons of water, consider a portable water filtration system, so you can hydrate freely, thanks to nature’s supply. Love suggests the Lifestraw Go, which protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, and more, along with improving the taste of the water.

Consider Camping Close to Home This Summer

One of the best parts about living in the US is its dedicated outdoor culture, along with its many protected parks and camping sites. In fact, the country boasts more than 400 national parks, including those stationed in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. 

Seasoned traveler and camper Lia Garcia, co-founder of the PracticalWanderlust.com blog, is partial to camping in the Western US. She and her husband frequently camp in their home state of California for easy access to its hot springs, vineyards, tidepools, and national parks, as well Utah, which is known for its mountains, canyons, dunes, lakes, valleys, and reservoirs. And, she is always open to revisiting a great spot. “Once we find a campsite or a park that we really like, we tend to go back again and again, in different seasons, or over multiple years,” Garcia shares. “But, we do try to work in new campsites, as well.”

However, while taking the pandemic into consideration this summer, Garcia is not planning to venture far from her home state. “We aren’t yet sure if we’ll attempt to visit any other states this summer since we are trying to be mindful of safety recommendations and ordinances,” she says.

 If you’re a new camper, Garcia urges against the backcountry. “Your first foray into camping should absolutely not be into the backcountry, and that also includes hike-in campsites,” she offers. “There are so many things that can go wrong, from your safety to wildfires to wildlife encounters, and it’s much more likely that you’ll end up in need of help, but without anyone nearby to assist.” That said, if you’re an avid backpacker or backcountry hiker/camper, according to Garcia, you will certainly feel more comfortable in a remote environment this summer.

Consequently, campsite-driven research right now is key. “I recommend researching campsites before you book to confirm that shared facilities, such as bathrooms, will be cleaned frequently and that social distancing will be maintained within the campgrounds. If that’s the case, I’d feel comfortable booking a publicly owned or privately-run campground.” 

Furthermore, if you’re not feeling up to an in-depth adventure due to lingering anxieties surrounding COVID-19, a quick getaway will still suffice. For example, Garcia says a short weekend away – 1 to 2 nights – is plenty right now, given the circumstances. “Science backs up what we already all know: spending time outdoors improves our mental health,” she says. “It’s been an incredibly difficult year, and spending time outside and in the wilderness is soothing to the soul, body, and mind.”

Use a Turnkey Camping App

If you’re not necessarily one to rough it or go all out when it comes to camping, there’s an app for that! Tentrr is a platform and app that offers campers turnkey camping options. Connecting adventurers with landowners, campers have access to available campsites in more than 40 states. “Now is as good of time as any to head outside, and with Tentrr’s seclusion factor, you’ve found yourself a socially distance-approved getaway,” shares Anna Sides, senior director of supply and demand.

When booking through Tentrr, users have options to reserve through Tentrr Signature, which provides access to a full campsite, as well as Tentrr Backcountry, where campers bring their gear and supplies and reserve space on a scenic private property. Still, there are “Extras” available, where campers can opt in for simple items like firewood and fun excursions like off-roading adventures – these perks are up to the CampKeepers to offer. You can even experience the art of glamping, thanks to the Tentrr Partners option.

So, has Tentrr tightened its operations due to the pandemic? Yes. In fact, Tentrr now offers contactless check-ins and check-outs, a mandatory disinfection window between reservations, and tracks whether or not campers have fallen ill or traveled recently. “We strongly recommend all of our CampKeepers to consistently monitor their local laws and regulations,” encourages Sides.


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Tracy Block

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The Ultimate Summer 2020 Camping Guide

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