Making Camping Fun
Women are different from men. We’re built differently and have totally different attitudes about many things, including camping and hiking. Though some guys have no problem running off into the wild without even a toothbrush, most of us women wouldn’t feel too comfortable with that.
Since many of the camping books and guides are written by, and often for men, I thought I’d help the wanna-be camper women out, and share a bit of what I learned the hard way on my many camping and hiking trips. I want camping to be as fun for you as it is for me, so read on to discover some of the ways we can make our trips as enjoyable as they can be.
Your Version of Camping
First of all, consider what’s important to you. These are tips for the average woman, many of these camping tips I consider important based on myself and other women I’ve hiked and camped with on my numerous trips. No one is ever exactly the same though. If something isn’t necessary for you, don’t bother with it, and if you know of something that I didn’t list, but it bothers you, make sure to take it. Camping is different for each individual, and we all have to learn our own style. And really, most of these tips are good for men too 🙂
1. Protect Your Skin While Camping – You’ll Be Exposed to the Elements
Sunburned in the Alabama Hills While camping, hiking, or just enjoying the outdoors, you’ll spend a lot of time exposed to the elements. Women’s skin can be sensitive and need extra protection, though of course everyone, not just women should take care while outdoors.
Hot, cold, dry, or windy, the weather may make your skin get chapped and rough, make sure to bring good lotion. Being in a different environment than normal may make even less sensitive skin hurt, and since many of the best camping and hiking areas are at high elevations, you’ll be even more vulnerable to red and rough skin. Cold mornings at a mountain camp can be beautiful and stunning, but it can be hard to enjoy it if your skin feels raw from the cold and wind.
You have to have sunscreen. No matter what color you are, anyone can get burnt from the sun when they spend more time outdoors than normal. And a sunburn doesn’t even require a sunny day, cloudy, overcast days can cause worst burns than others, so no matter what weather is predicted, make sure to have some sunscreen along, just in case. Make sure it’s a high enough SPF too, going too low can still allow you to get burnt, and sunburns are not fun while trying to enjoy nature.
Lips are one of the most sensitive areas on a body, and when they are exposed to hot and dry conditions or too much wind, they can crack and bleed. Circumvent any problems by bringing lip balm and applying it regularly.
A good, wide-brimmed hat and stocking cap should be with you too. Any regular camper knows they are a must, and they’ll see you through storms, sunny weather, and cold days. Bring both since weather can be unpredictable, and while the days may be warm and sunny, the night may get cold, and wearing a stocking cap to bed will keep you a lot warmer.
2. Trim Up Your Nails – You May Be in Rough Conditions
Life while camping and hiking can be a tad rougher than normal. Hiking often entails scrambling over rocks, maybe through a few bushes. Setting up camp means putting up the tent, ground cloth, and stakes, then later pulling them up and putting them away, as well as dealing with many other things.
Trimming your nails before the trip (I trim mine as far down as possible) or bringing along some nail clippers while on it, can help prevent nails from ripping off or getting hangnails that can easily become infected in the unsanitary conditions that can arise while camping.
A small manicure set can be a handy addition to your camp set anyways, tweezers and other items in them are invaluable when you run into trouble. This may sound like a bit of a prissy addition, but your hands will be doing far more than you’d think, and it really is important to keep them in shape.
3. Washing Up – It feels so good to be clean
There are some campgrounds with showers, but many times they aren’t available. You can still get clean though with some handy camping items.
Portable showers can vary from simple bags you hang in the sun, called solar showers, all the way to complete little rooms you put up like a tent. There are also machines that heat up water using propane so you can even have a hot shower at a moment’s notice. Any version feels like heaven when you’ve been camping for a while and just need to hose off.
If you don’t have water available or just want something less labor intensive, dry shampoo is handy to have around. It is super easy to sprinkle it on your hair, let sit for a few minutes, then brush out the shampoo, taking all the dirt and oils with it. There are also no-rinse shampoos that are sprayed on or are liquids as well.
4. Keep Clean While Camping – You’ll Be Getting Dirty
Camping is a dirty business. You’ll be out in nature, not a place known for being clean, hiking and walking and setting up camp and doing all sorts of things that will make you come in contact with dirt, and on top of that, showers and bathrooms can be hard to come by. Even if you aren’t a neat freak, being completely filthy and climbing into your sleeping bag can leave you feeling a bit icky. Also, dirty feet get blisters, when sweat dries on your skin it can be irritating, and simply washing your face with a damp cloth can make you feel wonderful after being in the hot sun. All this adds up to the one thing no camper should be without, baby wipes.
Mothers know how handy baby wipes can be, half-eaten food on your kid’s face? A swipe and it’s gone. Playing in the dirt? Quickly running a baby wipe over their hands cleans at least the worst of it off and keeps everything a bit neater. Well, imagine campers as big kids, playing out in the big sandbox of nature…baby wipes come in handy.
You can quickly and easily have a little sponge bath in your tent before crawling into your sleeping bag, and they’ll even be nice for a quick wipe of your hands before cooking. This may not sound important, sitting at home, all nice and clean, but it makes a dramatic difference while out camping. Don’t forget to dispose of used ones properly once back from camping though, no one likes littering campers.
5. Be Prepared For No Bathrooms – Everyone Has to Go Potty Sometime
Even if you’re staying in a campground, it’s a good idea to bring some toilet paper along just in case. You don’t want to be stuck there after going to the bathroom. Leaves simply don’t cut it, plus you really don’t want to chance to grab the wrong ones and getting a rash. Campgrounds are also well-known for not having toilet paper.
Bring tampons or pads as well. Even if you’re not due to have your period, sometimes the stress of the trip or your activity can trigger it, and it’s better to have them and not need them than it is to have to go without and try to deal with it. Also, some women tend to leak a little on strenuous hikes, or nearly anytime when pregnant. Many people are allergic to all sorts of things in nature, and we know what happens with sneezing sometimes. Bringing pads can be helpful in case you have little accidents.
Also, if there are no bathrooms that means you’ll need to deal with used toilet paper and may be used sanitary pads or tampons. No, you do not leave them out there. That’s disgusting and seeing toilet paper litter utterly ruins the spot for everyone. It’s bad for the environment, the animals, and anyone else in the area, especially if you are in a mountainous area that doesn’t allow easy burial.
Just take a disposable bag to place used items in. You can use whatever will work for you if you have some smallish bags around the house that will probably be fine. You can also use the bags designed for diaper disposal, they’re usually treated so they won’t let the smell out, are colored so you can’t see through them, and are a perfect size. Another cheap and easy option is to cover a Ziploc bag with duct tape. It’ll make it not see-through and since you can seal it, it will prevent any smells from escaping.
There are also disposal bags designed specifically for camping in areas that don’t have outhouses and are too sensitive for you to dig a cat hole to go to the bathroom in. These, of course, are the best way to deal with the inevitable.
6. Urine Therapy?
There are female friends of mine told me not to do urine therapy when going camping. In case you don’t know what is urine therapy all about, it is an alternative medicine with the use of human urine for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. People who preach this therapy will use their own urine and massage on their skin.
They claimed that urine is comprised of the essential nutrients such as salt, various minerals, hormones, and enzymes. Thus, it can be used as a beauty treatment to maintain their skin and get rid of acne. Even though there is no scientific evidence proof for this, but there are still many people try out this urine therapy.
Some women will use their urine to apply on their skin during camping. I feel this is really disgusting and there is no chance I will want to try it on my skin.
There are campers who discourage women to use urine therapy as they claimed the scent that coming out from the urine seems to attract wild animals and this can endanger their life by doing so.
However, there are also people who claimed this is not true as most wild animals are trying to avoid humans and any scents that coming out from human. So, if you apply urine on your skin it will be an effective deterrent to scare away wild animals.
Well, I just have no idea on this. If you have something to tell, you can let me know. But I just can’t convince myself to use my own urine to upkeep my skin.
7. It’s Often Cold While Camping – You’ll Want to Keep Warm
One of the most necessary, but often forgotten things I see while camping is extra clothes. It is quite often colder than you’d think, especially at night after the sun goes down. Popular camping places like the mountains or the desert can be especially cold, no matter how warm the day was. In fact, one camping trip had me running out of clothes, simply because I was trying to keep warm all the people who thought the desert in late spring meant it would only be hot and so brought bathing suits and left jackets behind.
Women are usually more sensitive to cold than men, so need to prepare extra well. Bring a warm jacket and lots of clothes to layer. Layers are always the best while camping and hiking because you can remove any you don’t need, or place one or two back on if necessary. This is especially handy on a hike where you start off cold and end up hot and sweaty.
Since I sleep cold, I don’t just bring extra clothes, I also bring some warm stuff to cuddle up in. Sleeping at camp got so much cozier after I started bringing down booties, down jacket, and beanie cap to sleep in. Down packs up so tiny, that it takes almost no room at all and it’s well worth bringing.
8. Prevent Chafing While Camping – Too Much Rubbing Can Really Hurt
Anytime you have to parts rubbing against each other, you will eventually have chafing. This could be shoes rubbing against your feet, backpack straps rubbing against your shoulders, or your thighs rubbing together. And eventually, the chafing will cause a rash or blisters or even welts.
I’m fat, have sensitive feet, and usually carry a backpack while hiking, meaning I almost always ended up sore and hurting by the end of the day, and usually my bra would even rub me raw. Then I found something called chafing cream, I absolutely love the stuff! Not only does it help prevent rashes caused by rubbing, it even helps get rid of ones that are already there. It’s safe for all over and really does help prevent friction burns.
Preventing friction burns is especially handy while camping and hiking, because you’ll be moving a lot, and areas will be rubbing that don’t usually rub. No matter what, on your camping or hiking trip, there will be an area or something that will rub you wrong, and chafing cream will help prevent that. After all, you don’t want to be too sore to walk while hiking.
9. Sleep Better While Camping – The Ground Can Be Hard
Being well-rested means you’ll probably have a fun trip, being sore and tired means you’ll probably have a not so enjoyable one. Don’t take that icky old sleeping bag camping if you can avoid it. You’ll most likely spend the night cold and wake up stiff and sore. Having a good sleeping bag is important for everyone, but especially for women. We usually get cold easier so need a bag that will keep us warm, and one used for years and probably not laundered correctly to retain loft means the one you have laying around probably won’t do it. There are some wonderful new bags on the market, designed specifically for women and women’s needs. Most are designed to be a bit warmer and have more space in the hip and shoulder areas for curves to fit better. They are so much better than your old bag, and you’ll be amazed at the difference they make.
Since washing sleeping bags is bad for them and should only be done when absolutely necessary, sleeping bag liners come in handy. These are small sleeping bag-style blankets designed to lay inside of your sleeping bag, keeping the sleeping bag clean from any dirt you have on you as well as any skin oils that might harm it. They’re also great for keeping you a bit warmer. Sleeping bag liners are usually made or fleece or silk, but you can occasionally find them made of other materials. My favorite use for sleeping bag liners though is when it’s too cold to sleep with the sleeping bag zipped up, but too chilly to not have anything over you. The extra warmth and extra cleanliness are lovely to have. Also, you can just pop the sleeping bag liner in any washer when you return from camping, you don’t have to deal with washing the big bulky, slow-to-dry sleeping bag when you otherwise don’t need to.
Really think about your sleeping pad system. Since women have curves, sleeping on the ground can really hurt our hips and shoulders. A sleeping pad will pad these areas to help prevent you from feeling like death warmed over the next morning. Some pads, like Therm-a-rest, even have sleeping pads designed specifically for women with extra padding where we need it. If you don’t want or can’t afford a pad, layering your extra clothing beneath your sleeping bag will keep you warmer and give you a little cushion to prevent those morning blues.
And finally, don’t forget a pillow. For ages I made with some rolled up clothes for a pillow, then I realized that I woke up stiff and with a headache. There’s no point in making yourself feel bad when you can just take a compressible or blow-up pillow with you. They really take up hardly any room and you can wake up refreshed.
The Most Important Thing to Bring with You
The most important thing to bring with you camping, isn’t a thing you can see, though you can see the effects. The most important thing of all to bring camping is a good attitude. Things will go wrong. No matter how much you prepare and plan, something will happen that you didn’t expect.
Those are the things you will remember most about your camping trip. They’ll be the things you tell stories about months later. But how you act about the unexpected is how you decide whether they will turn into good memories or bad ones. Bring a good attitude and no matter how your camping trip goes, it will be a memory to cherish.
Something to Add
You may feel glad to know about chafing cream. If you love being outdoors and is a camping lover, you can refer here for something useful for you. You may have more gear than guys, but it’s different being a big girl in the wild. My least favorite part (and greatest deterrent) is sleeping on the ground in a tight sleeping bag. You will be glad to know of these alternative ideas geared specifically toward women.
In addition, I would go so far as to say no jewelry such as rings or earrings that can get caught on most anything. I always use moleskin on the balls of my feet to prevent blisters. I throw leather gloves in my backpack in case of unexpected rock climbing or hanging branches.
You may find all of these are wonderful (common sense) suggestions. They make camping easier, safer, and more comfortable for women. I pack most of these things (or the man equivalent) when I go out on walks. If you are concern about sanitation, you can add a few pairs of latex gloves to the list. These can keep your hands clean when there’s no way to wash them.
My female friend ever told me she slipped in a sun shower without the knowledge of her husband because he always said they weighed too much. But when she got the sun shower out and was moaning and groaning because she felt so good, she found her husband was filling them up to use themselves. The next time they went camping they had three sun showers!
Another female friend kept on complain to me how frustrated she was with her boyfriend when go camping together. Her boyfriend never wants to bring a flashlight and he just thinks a flashlight is something that is redundant.
She was in the camp and every time during the night time when she needs flashlight she just can’t find it. Then she will see her boyfriend was using it walking back to the tent. She has been tolerating for so many times, and this time she just yelling at him: “bring your damn flashlight next time!” Today, as the cost of headlamp been gone down quite a lot, I would suggest you to get a headlamp instead of a flashlight, it is hands-free where you can just put on your head and you can walk around with the light.
Also, if you are going with your husband or boyfriend, it is best for you to prepare the toothbrush for him. Don’t trust him as guys tend to forget this tiny little thing. When they want to use in the camp and only know they forgot to bring, they may simply take one that they can get which happened to be your toothbrush and they just put some toothpaste on it and brush their teeth.
Some guys even not clean the toothbrush after use. You can imagine how disgusting it is when they return the toothbrush back to you. When can be even more frustrating is they never let you know they are using your toothbrush cause they know you will get mad with them, they just simply put them back to your place quietly.
Once you found out and you use that toothbrush to brush your teeth for a couple of days. You are going to go crazy. So, the best solution would be you better spare another toothbrush with you. In case he forgot to bring his toothbrush, you can just give him your spare one.