Find Your Campsite

There are over 9000 campsites throughout the Minnesota State Park and Forest system. There is certainly one near you. There is a very easy reservation system you can use on their website. You can search for parks and sites even reserve your spot online. Go find your spot! 

 

Podcasts

  • Tumblehome. Erik and Adam focus on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with tips for those looking to go to the premiere camping area in the state. They talk about ideas, experiences, and tips for going to the BWCA. Definitely check it out.
  • Outside/In. Advertised as a podcast for "almost" everyone, Sam Evans-Brown talks about environmental science, political conservation policies, and a much more. This long-running podcast is produced by the New Hampshire Public Radio
  • She Explores. From big names in the outdoors community to everyday explorers, Gale Straub weaves the idea of outdoors adventures through the lens of women's stories. This is a fantastic podcast for those not sure if they want to become active outdoor enthusiasts. 

 

Tips for different camping adventures

Day Hikeskidsbehindplates

  • Pull up Google Maps and find the closest patch of green area. Ideally, a public area managed by city/state/national resources, or the equivalent in your country. Research that area to find trails. Often simply googling the area + "trails" will provide results. You can also look for National Geographic maps or use Google Maps/Earth tracing functionality.
  • If convenient - drive to these trails and check things out in person. You don't even have to hike the first few times. Just get comfortable with locating a trail/trailhead. Park and look around the start area. There are normally signs or registration boxes. Walk a few minutes down the trail and see what it's like. This will all give you information for when you are ready to take your first real day hike. It's never a bad idea to find the local ranger or land manager. Stop in for a chat and see what local advice they have. Every area is unique and you must obey local regulations (food storage, permits, closures, etc.).
  • These first day hikes should start out easy. Pick something that's only a few miles/kilometers long and see how difficult it is for you. Everyone hikes at different speeds and prefers different terrain. Hiking to a mountain top is the classic adventure, but down into valleys or towards waterfalls can be rewarding too. Remember that elevation gain is equally important to distance. 1000 ft of elevation gain will typically add 1 hour to a hike. The average hiking speed is 2 miles per hour, depending on conditions / terrain / fitness. Start looking for potential overnight camping spots as you do these hikes.
  • Out-and-back is the popular type of hike. This is where you start at the trailhead, where you park your vehicle, and hike to a certain location - then turn around and hike the same path back. This is ideal for beginners because you know what to expect on the 2nd half of the hike. It also allows you to turn around at any point to shorten the trip. Loop (start and end at the same place but never re-hiking the same section) and Thru/Section (start and end at different places) are other popular types of hikes.
  • Build up the miles/elevation of these day hikes. Explore more tails and learn the skills of hiking. Many day hiking skills transfer to overnight backpacking. Understanding how much water to carry, what footwear to use, time management, what gear is required in different conditions, weather forecasting, navigation, and others are critical to successful backpacking and day trips alike. This will build your confidence and prepare you for the upcoming overnight adventures.
  • Do all of these things in a variety of conditions and seasons. Get comfortable hiking in the rain, you won't be able to avoid it forever. Hike in warm and cold temperatures to find what you prefer. The trail may be icy or muddy certain times of the year and it's best to find this out on a short day hike compared to a longer overnight + full pack.

 

Car Camping

  • Camping next to your vehicle is relatively safe and easy. You can bring 'large' things from home including a cooler, comforter, chairs, and beer! This limits the initial investment because things you already own can be re-used for camping. This will begin to teach you skills important for backcountry travel. Things like fire building, cooking with limited resources, water management, sleeping on the ground, setting up a tent/tarp, etc. If any of these things fail (tent falls over, sleeping bag gets wet, dinner is burned, animals eat your food, etc.) - your car is right there and you can simply drive home.
  • Combine this with day hikes for more of a 'full weekend' experience. It will be very similar to backpacking, just with added comfort/protection.

 

Short overnight

  • Once you've become familiar with an area, try an overnight trip. Ideally on a trail you've already day hiked. If you keep it short (1 mile for example) - you can get away with heavy or extra equipment. This again limits the initial investment required to start backpacking. If things go badly - you are close enough to the vehicle/trailhead to simply go home. Setting yourself up for success is key. Always have backup plans for backup plans. It's often harder than expected the first few trips.
  • Start practicing skills like water purification and fire making. Understand how to read a map (or trip reports) for finding a campsite and water. This is the time to use the skills you've been reading about, getting proficient where you feel comfortable relying on them.

 

Long overnightkidjumpingin

  • Long overnights will get you comfortable with spending real time outdoors.
  • Ideally you will pick another trail you've already day hiked. Step it up in miles/elevation and get farther from the trailhead. 
  • This is still only 1 night, so there is safety built in. If you get cold or wet, you don't have to spend a second night outdoors. If you are hungry - the end of the trip is not too far away.
  • Start to take notes on what equipment you used or didn't use. What can be dropped? What should be added? What should be upgraded? What items are your favorite? All this will help you optimize your kit, making trips more successful and enjoyable.
  • Take this extra time on the trail and camp to continue practicing skills. Become an expert at cooking on your stove. 
  • After trip work is also important to note here. When you get home you should be taking care of your equipment. Unpack your bag/car and make sure things are dry. Putting away wet gear can easily ruin it. Come up with a routine that extends the life of your gear, if you plan to backpack for a long time this is critical. It's also nice to have clean and prepared gear when you begin to pack for your next adventure. This makes it more likely you'll go on that next impromptu trip.

 

Multi-night

  • This requires extra planning and fitness. You'll be hiking during the day and in camp at night. Food and equipment must be smartly managed if you plan to be successful/happy.
  • Finding the right trail is often the hardest part of an overnight adventure. You want something long enough that people aren't doing in 1 day, but not too long to stress your body. This will take experience to work out, but hopefully the short/long trips help with this planning. It's also great to find local resources. Reading local trip reports seriously helps efficiently preparing for an adventure.

 

Longer trips

  • After you master multi-night trips - you are likely ready for anything. People say that a 2000 mile trail thru-hike (like the Appalachian Trail) is nothing more than x number of section hikes put together end-to-end. There are often towns between sections, you just have to hike/camp 3-7 nights between them. Once your gear and skills are confident with 3-5 nights on the trail - a 2000 mile thru-hike is totally possible.

  • The only real difference between 1 night and 10 nights are food and fuel. The rest of your equipment will be nearly identical. Maybe an extra pair of socks or t-shirt. Most long distance hikers end up taking less than the average weekend warrior - because the extra weight over the longer distance gets painful.

  • Everyone hikes for different reasons. Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) is a common phrase. There is no right or wrong way to camp and hike. Experience is paramount for getting better at this sport. Now get out there and explore!!

 

Delicious Campsite Recipesjimcooking

  • Omelet in a bag. Have you ever eaten an omelet boiled in a bag? This recipe is perfect for a big group or if your out solo. Lots of variety, too. 
  • Pound Cake and Berry Delight. If you've brought your cast-iron skillet with you on your expedition, you're halfway there for this delicious and easy dessert. It combines cake, berries, and Rolos in just a perfect combination.
  • Apple Cookies. You're probably thinking that you can't make cookies out on the trail. No worries, these are probably the easiest things to put together. This easy snack can be assembled on site with almost no clean up. 

 

For more camping information, check out our recent blog posts!

 

 

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