Fall is here and it’s officially camping season! September through November are the busiest months of the year for camping enthusiasts, and it’s no surprise. With dropping temperatures, gorgeous views of the leaves changing colors, and fewer insects to contend with, it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.
However, camping in the fall comes with unique challenges. Unpredictable weather patterns, large crowds, and more gear to pack can lead to disaster if you don't plan your trip carefully. Let’s discuss a few key components for the ultimate fall camping getaway.
What Are the Best Fall Camping Destinations?
Depending on the type of fall camping experience you're looking for, there are many great places to choose for your outdoor adventure. If you’re looking to beat the early winter, going south to Florida or Texas is a great way to warm up. Avid hunters should check out western states like Colorado and Utah. Late September is the middle of elk hunting season and the perfect time to snag a trophy.
Of course, if you’re looking for a true fall camping experience, with modestly warm days and cooler evenings, look to the Appalachian or Ozark mountains. It’s there you’ll find heavily forested areas that are perfect to take a break from it all.
What Gear Should I Bring on a Fall Camping Trip?
Choosing the right gear is crucial for any successful fall camping trip. Having lightweight, durable, and multifunctional equipment will keep you light on your feet while saving space for larger items like cold weather sleeping bags and extra firewood. Check the weather before you pack so you’ll know which clothes to bring. Layering is a great idea when there are significant temperature swings during the day. Staying dry is important too, so consider 100% waterproof socks and protective leg gaiters.
How Do I Choose the Perfect Spot for my Tent?
Choosing a spot to pitch your tent in the fall is a crucial aspect of any good camping trip. The weather is unpredictable, and temperatures are cooler. Setting up your campsite in the open causes lower heat retention around your site, but heavily wooded areas tend to hold water longer and have more widowmakers above. Consider using natural elements such as cliff faces or high shrubbery to pitch your tent beside.
Having the proper sleeping equipment will also help keep you warm throughout the night. A sleeping bag rated for cold weather is a great first step, but be sure to bring along a sleeping bag liner, as well. The versatile sleeping bag liner from Pike Trail is super lightweight and soft and comes in three sizes to fit any height.
What Are Easy Camping Meals to Cook in the Fall?
Fall camping is the perfect time to grab your stock pot and plan for warm, hearty campfire meals. The easiest way to get delicious, easy meals that will satisfy you on cold evenings is to pre-make and freeze your meals. This way, you’ll only need to put the meal into a pot to reheat. Chili, vegetable soup, and dumplings are all easy-to-make meals that can be frozen and reheated.
What are Good Fall Camping Activities?
Hiking, climbing, and bouldering are all popular fall camping activities that are perfect to enjoy once the weather cools down. Hiking is an especially great fall camping activity that allows you to hike further and longer compared to the warmer months. Another big advantage is fewer bugs — that alone makes fall hiking delightful.
Although the weather is cooler, there are still some essential items you should bring if you plan on a hiking trip. Lightweight protective leg gaiters and 100% waterproof socks are essential for keeping legs and feet warm, dry, and protected from the elements.
How Do I Plan for Unpredictable Fall Weather?
Unpredictable weather is a staple of autumn time. Rain, sleet, and even snow can come down out of nowhere. It’s important to accept the possibility of unfavorable weather and plan accordingly, but making sure you have the right equipment for any situation is key.
If you’re planning a fall camping trip but want to pack light, a good option is to bring along a lightweight, multifunctional blanket like Pike Trail’s Pocket Blanket. This multipurpose blanket can be used as a tent footprint, sitting blanket, emergency blanket, tarp, and rainfly. It’s 50” by 60” and can fit two adults or four children snugly. Made from 100% waterproof material, the Pocket Blanket is a great must-have for any fall camping trip.
Pro Tips for Fall Camping
Camping in the fall is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. Like any camping trip, however, careful planning is the key to a successful adventure. Check out these pro tips for having the fall camping trip of a lifetime!
- Always check the weather before you go. Pack an emergency weather radio, and have extra water on hand for emergencies.
- Choose a tent spot with some natural insulation and low overhead debris for the greatest chance of keeping warm in cooler temperatures.
- Be sure to bring bear spray and bear-proof food containers if you’re in an area with a bear or predator population.
- Pack lightweight, multifunctional gear such as blankets and liners to save space in your pack.
- Use local firewood — burn it where you buy it. Pack in, pack out, and leave no trace.