The bugs and fair-weather campers are gone, and the scenery is at its jaw-dropping best. It's time to take advantage of all this season has to offer, and there's no better way to do that than a fall camping trip. Before you hit the road for your favorite campground, here are a few things you might want to bring along to make colder temperatures part of the fun.
1. Hot Beverage - Accessories
More than a pleasant way to start a chilly day, a steaming cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is a quick way to warm your core. We highly recommend plenty of tea bags and cocoa packets, but if java is your thing, forget the instant stuff. Presses and other accessories allow you to brew your favorite bean. After all, "roughing it" should be taken only so far.
2. Headlamp or Lantern
Erecting your tent in the dark on a Friday night is a common rite of passage for fall campers. The only thing more important than a good light source is keeping both hands free to work, which is why a headlamp is such a great tool. Any LED (light emitting diode) variety will do. For area lighting, many prefer the convenience and safety of LED lanterns to conventional liquid fuel models.
3. Sleeping Bag
That ultralight 40°F sleeping bag you've been backpacking with all summer won't cut it this time of year. Typically, a sleeping bag rated between 0°F and 20°F will do just fine during the autumn months. If you're car camping, there's no harm in packing along a spare blanket just in case. ( Shop Sleeping Bags )
4. Sleeping Pad
Since you're not backpacking, bring the thickest, biggest self-inflating foam pad you have. It'll provide cushioning, but more critically, a sleeping pad insulates you from the cold ground. Additionally, luxury-minded campers can slip a blanket underneath the pad for added comfort.
5. Duffel Bag
Fall camping involves a lot more gear, clothes, and food than a fast-and-light backpacking trip. Avoid the chaos and load your stuff into a duffel bag or two. Just be sure to choose something durable that'll last for many trips.
6. Hand and Foot Warmers
The leaves are falling, and while it's not nearly cold enough for full-fledged insulated boots yet, it can get a little chilly at either end of the day. Small chemical heating pads slipped inside your boots, gloves, or jacket pockets are a great option in this transition season.
7. Gloves and Hats
Fleece gloves and acrylic caps are just right for the variable temperatures of fall. Those Everest-grade expedition mitts can remain in the closet for a couple months yet.
8. Insulated Sweater
A puffy down jacket (or vest or sweater) may sound like overkill in October, but in New England, temperatures in the teens are a very real possibility this time of year. Be prepared, and you'll be grateful.
9. Wool Socks & Down Booties
Kicking back becomes a little more complicated on chilly mornings or evenings. A heavier pair of wool socks will keep your feet toasty, and for real camp luxury, nothing beats down-filled booties. Slipping them on after you wake up makes your exit from that warm sleeping bag much easier.
10. Thermal Underwear
In the fall, a 20° morning can become a 70° afternoon. A good base layer is a great idea, and when the temperature range is this broad, we recommend merino wool. Merino is unique in that it not only warms you up when it's cold out, it cools you down when the temperature rises.