Also available in: French
Do you enjoy spending time outdoors even in chilly weather? Do you dream of being surrounded by breathtaking fall colours while camping in the heart of the forest, but are afraid of being cold? Find out how to equip yourself for a successful stay in the great outdoors that you will remember for a long time.
Have you made a list of what you need to camp in the cool weather under the autumn trees? Take a detailed look at our tips below and don’t forget to bring:
- A tent suitable for fall camping
- A sleeping bag warm enough for your specific needs
- An anti-moisture camping mat
- Layering clothing that is practical, warm and comfortable
- Functional tools
- Hearty food
Also consider relying on and/or printing our camping gear checklist and read our entire article on the essentials that will make your stay more enjoyable.
1. A tent suitable for fall camping
Unless you want to camp in the winter, in the snow, or on days when the temperature is very cold or even extreme, you won’t need a winter “expedition” tent to camp in the fall.
You should avoid thin summer tents. Instead, choose a three season tent with thicker, stronger walls that will withstand both wind and rain.
Before you start shopping, ask yourself if you plan on staying at campsites accessible by car, or if you might also camp in locations accessible on foot or by canoe only. If you plan on camping in remote areas, be sure to choose a tent that is also lightweight and compact enough to attach to your backpack.
2. A sleeping bag warm enough for your needs
Don’t let the cold keep you awake. Make sure that you pack a sleeping bag designed for lower temperatures.
Check that it’s breathable, since fleece-lined sleeping bags can be comfortable for sleeping in a cottage, but you might end up sweating before you know it. On a cool fall night, sweating quickly leads to shivering.
When the label of a sleeping bag shows that it is suitable for temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, remember the 5 degree rule. Although it will retain your heat so that you can survive at -10 degrees Celsius, you will actually be comfortable at about 5 degrees higher: -5 degrees Celsius in this case. Therefore, consider how sensitive you are to the cold and choose an appropriate sleeping bag.
Interesting fact: A mummy sleeping bag will keep you warmer than a rectangular sleeping bag because its snug fit minimizes heat loss.
3. An anti-moisture camping mat
Even if you place a groundsheet under your tent and have the best sleeping bag in the world, you may still get cold if you don’t have a good sleeping pad. Why? Because humidity transfers from the soil to your tent during the night.
For pleasant fall camping, we strongly recommend that you use an insulating, self-inflating or foam sleeping pad and test your entire sleeping area (tent, sleeping bag and mattress) in your backyard or any location where you can return home and warm up if you don’t have adequate equipment. This will ensure that you won’t have to deal with hypothermia in a remote area and will give you time to source new equipment before your next trip.
4. Practical, warm and comfortable layering clothing
It can’t be said often enough that when it comes to outdoor activities, wearing layers is vital, especially during fall. Here’s your essential packing list for your first fall camping trip:
- Leggings or tights
- Baselayers, socks and underwear made of Merino wool or another warm and breathable fabric for outdoor physical activity
- A down jacket for rest periods
- A waterproof outer shell
- A scarf
- A hat
- Two pairs of gloves in case the first pair gets wet
- Waterproof pants
- Light shoes
- Hiking boots or shoes
Avoid jeans and clothing made of cotton or any other fabric that retains moisture at all cost and make sure you pack plenty of layers.
5. Functional tools
Who doesn’t appreciate a crackling fire while camping? The pleasure of watching the flames rise becomes a basic need when camping in fall. As soon as you have pinpointed the perfect campsite and before it gets dark, use windproof matches, newspaper, an axe and twigs to get your campfire started. Slowly add a few logs, then lay out (but not too close) any equipment that needs to be dried. You can then relax and set up your metal billy can and pot to boil water.
Don’t remain too long outdoors, however. Staying outside for too long once night has fallen can cause your body temperature to drop to a point where it will be difficult to bring it back up. Instead, fill a thermos or insulated flask with hot liquid and drink enough to keep you hydrated but not so that you have to get up during the night to relieve yourself. You must also be very careful if you use a heater inside your tent.
You should never run heaters for longer than an hour and they should always be switched off after use to avoid a lack of oxygen in the tent.
6. Hearty food
During fall evenings, the temperature can drop very quickly. So, in order to stay warm and cozy inside your tent, pack freeze-dried food (chili, couscous, stew and other foods sold in outdoor equipment stores) or food that you dehydrated yourself at home and to which you only have to add water. Don’t forget to include tea bags (rather than coffee, which can make you dehydrated and therefore at risk of getting cold), as well as nuts, cooked legumes, dark chocolate and dried fruit.
Also available in: French