Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can’t go camping! Maybe days at the beach won’t be on the agenda. But a fall camping experience can be delightful. Fewer bugs, fall colors, and chilly nights by a campfire are just a few perks of fall camping. Here at Des Moines Outdoors, we think camping in the fall is the best! So, to help you prep for a great fall camping getaway, we’ve put together some helpful tips. This article covers what to wear, things to bring, and fun fall things to do.
What to wear
Fall weather is all over the place, especially here in Iowa. One day might be hot and sunny, but the next cool and rainy. So, layered clothing is essential! With layers, you can easily adjust your clothes with the daily temperature swings.
Base layers are light to medium weight shirts and pants that wick moisture away from your skin. They should fit close to your skin but still allow comfortable movement. Some people prefer wool since it’s breathable, wicks moisture, and doesn’t absorb odor. But for those sensitive to wool, a soft polyester blend and silk work well.
Depending on the forecast, you might want to pack a couple of different middle layers. The middle layer should provide insulation and keep your body heat in. Fleece and insulated jackets make great mid-layers.
Your outer layer, or shell, provides wind and water resistance. It keeps the elements from getting through and allows your middle layer to keep the heat in. Look for a jacket that fits over your middle layer and provides protection from the elements.
Hat and Gloves
Heat escapes from your head, so on cold days (and nights), a hat will help keep you warm. Also, bring along mittens or gloves to keep your fingers toasty. (Also, foot and hand warmers are handy when temps dive!)
Shoes, Boots, and Socks
Keep your feet dry when hiking and camping! Wear moisture-wicking socks and waterproof shoes or boots.
Fall Camping Prep: What to bring
What you bring along depends a bit on whether you’re camping in a tent or an RV. Of course, you need to pack your clothing and camping gear. But in the fall, there are a few other things everyone needs to bring:
- Extra socks and shoes
- Matches and firewood
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Hot water bottle
- Hand sanitizer
- Drinking water or a water filter (especially if there’s no potable water near your campsite)
- A meal plan (and some pre-prepped meals)
- First Aid Kit
- Extra blankets
- Cider or hot chocolate!
Fall camping in an RV or camping trailer
Sure, you’re sleeping in an enclosed space, but you still need to prepare before you head out. Here are some tips on what to do to prep for fall camping in your RV:
- Check your propane tanks
- Make sure your furnace works
- Pack extra blankets
- Check your tank heaters (if you have them)
- Test your smoke and CO detector
- Check your tires, brakes, and hitch
Fall tent camping
Tent camping in colder weather takes a bit more preparation and gear. Besides your clothing layers and standard camping gear, consider the following:
For fall tent camping, make sure you have:
- A good tent
- A good campsite (in the sun & out of the wind)
- Cold-weather sleeping bags or extra layers
- Extra firewood
If you plan to tent camp in cold weather often, consider buying a three or four-season tent. Look for double-wall construction, adequate ventilation, and sturdy poles.
Cold weather sleeping bags
A sleeping bag can make or break your fall tent camping trip. So, it’s helpful to know what features to look for in a cold-weather sleeping bag. To learn about temperature ratings and what to look for, check out this Make For the Lake article. They break it all down with recommendations for the best sleeping bags. Don’t want to upgrade your sleeping bag? You might want to get a sleeping bag liner instead.
Fall Camping Fun: What to do
Fall offers some excellent things to do that you don’t always get when camping in the warmer months. To immerse yourself in the fall camping experience, plan to do a few of these activities:
- Go hiking (and take in the fall colors!)
- Take a bike ride
- Visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch
- Attend a local fall festival
- Go for a night hike (take headlamps!)
- Cook campfire, fall-themed meals
- Sip warm beverages by the fire (hot apple cider!)
- Have a fall scavenger hunt
- Identify and collect colorful leaves
- Make campfire apples
- Play flag football
- Birdwatch (look for migrating birds!)
- Visit a local winery or brewery
- Climb a tree
- Read a book
- Stargaze (identify constellations)
- Take pictures of the beautiful surroundings!
Get out and camp this fall!
We hope our fall camping tips help you get out there and have a great time! With a little bit of planning and preparation, camping in the fall can be relaxing and super fun! It’s an excellent way to get outdoors and experience the best of the season. So, go soak up everything nature offers during this time of year.