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Base Camping – Definition, Diversion, Delight
You may have been hearing about base camping these days. In fact, you may well have been buried under your friends’ excited rambling about their outdoor adventures, which, they assure you, are quite comfortable and not at all a survival-training session. Well, they didn’t lie because base camping doesn’t involve digging shelters in some awful jungle. On the other hand, if you’ve never heard of it, you’re in the right place to learn. So, what is it really?
Base camping is a more relaxed way of adventuring in the great (or not so great) outdoors. You don’t need to bring a full truck of supplies for it, you definitely don’t need to bang rocks against one another to start a fire, and you … well, you do have to forego showering. Unless you’re cheating, but that’s another thing.
The keyword of this concept is base: camping this way means you’re only bringing the essential gear for a comfortable stay, rather than tools to make all that gear yourself. Also, it wins over any prospect of buying or renting a whole camping van for crammed prestige. It is not a five-star-hotel stay, but it’s a ten-star adventure, which has many benefits:
- Stress-relief. No matter what anyone says, being in nature is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Lives are messy and fast-paced, work can be difficult, and relationships can put a strain on your health (even the best ones have their days). Spending time outside helps you ground yourself and get in touch with your inner peace.
- Good time to unplug. Chances are, your internet signal will be non-existent, which is great, as you’ll be able to step away from pings, notifications, buzzes, and alarms for a while. Your brain will appreciate it.
- Improved relationships. A combined effect of reduced stress and non-existent scrolling will help you reconnect with your loved ones. Whether you’re camping with friends or your SO, nothing beats the late-night talks you have under the stars.
- Health and fitness. Base camping is not just about planting your backside in one spot and not moving from there ever again – it involves hiking, climbing, and even light physical work, all of which contribute to your endurance and boost your health. PS Fresh air also helps.
- Personal growth. The older you get, the less you want to poke your nose out of your comfort zone. Camping is a great chance to do so, as it puts you away from what you’re used to. If you’re a prolific camper, you can always go to different places, expanding your horizons and growing personally.
Have I got your attention yet?
Base Camping Gear
When we say base, we mean base. You probably can’t put all your basic gear in a small bag, but you won’t need a whole van either. If you check out any decent website selling camping gear, you’ll find that there’s a world of possibilities, from fancy waterproof GoPro cameras to tent decorations to a variety of special shoes and socks. Gear-junkies revel in this world, as any camping experience can always be made even easier by simply throwing money at it.
We, however, advise against the hype – after all, we’re here to celebrate base camping not gear-hunting. Nevertheless, you need to have at least several pieces of quality equipment to ensure you’re safe and well-prepared. For example, you cannot allow yourself to be without shelter or go hungry while you’re out (is it just me or does mountain air make you even hungrier?).
Just because you’re outside and going as a basic persona of high assertiveness (😉), it doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. Some camping chairs and a warm sweater go a long way, and you don’t need a ton of space. Also, you don’t have to waste your hard-earned money on them. With that said, let’s check out the basics.
Base Camping Tents
The first and most important piece of equipment you need is proper shelter. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re running into the nearest cave (nearest probably meaning 20 miles away) to hide from rain … only to find a couple of befuddled bears looking at you, wondering if they’d forgotten to add your visit to their calendar. Frankly, I don’t think they’d be happy to come back from a day trip to find you’ve eaten their porridge and slept in their bed either.
Leave the bears to their bear business and invest in a good camping tent. While prices tend to range anywhere between 100 and 1500 quid, you most likely don’t need to bleed yourself dry over them. Follow these tips to ensure your safety:
- Plan according to purpose. Think about how you’ll use your tent. Do you go alone or with someone (are you even willing to share?)? If you pick a two (or more) person tent, would you need extra space for additional gear? How often do you intend to camp?
- Don’t over-upgrade. It’s easy to get caught up in the endless what-if-I-need-this questions. Still, most likely, you’re only camping, and you won’t be swept up in a fantasy crime mystery you read about in novels, so don’t go for tents with tons of gadgets. There is beauty in simplicity.
- What else you’ll do while there. If you’re hiking, you should buy a tent you can comfortably pack and carry in your backpack. In fact, if you’re camping in warm and relatively insect-free areas (like beaches), you can even go for a tarp.
- The seasons. For all of you adrenaline junkies and Wim-Hoff Methodists who like to camp in Winter, buy tents that can keep the warmth inside and endure the weight of snow should it decide to try to bury you over the night. For tropical climates, make sure your tent has an extra insect net.
Don’t forget to secure your tent properly, or you may find yourself under the open skies unexpectedly 😉.
Inflatable Camping Bed
Yes, it’s base camping, but come on, the ground is hard. And occasionally wet. And muddy. And … you get where I’m going with this. To have a pleasant camping experience, you should invest in a nice inflatable camping bed or mattress. Why inflatable? Well, you’ll want to stuff it back into your backpack as soon as you decide to move on.
There are really tons of options for inflatable beds – from single person mattresses to a full double bed with an inflatable base. When picking the ideal one for yourself, you should still ask yourself whether you’re going alone or sharing, as well as what kind of climate you expect to deal with. If you’re camping in Summer and warmer areas, a comfortable mattress is more than enough to provide you with a good night of sleep. For harsher conditions, I recommend elevated mattresses to avoid close contact with the cold ground or sinking into the mud.
The most important aspect of bed shopping is their durability. I mean, no one likes to wake up and find out their bed has let out air. Focus on quality brands like Kampa, or iDOO for maximum comfort. While we’re at it, don’t forget a good heat-preserving blanket!
What About My Stomach? Base Camping Food
We’ve already established that you can’t camp on an empty stomach, but what should you bring, and how will you prepare it? While marshmallows and smores are addictive as hell, they’re not entirely the healthiest option – certainly not if they’re the only thing you’ve brought.
The three key principles of camping food are:
- Portability. You have to be able to carry your food. In other words, leave your stove and that ten-kilo bag of rice at home.
- High-satiety foods. With all the moving around, playing, and hiking, you need foods that will keep you full. High-protein foods, legumes, potatoes (boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew), and fresh produce are your friends.
- Non-perishable foods. Unless you’re bringing a portable fridge (these are always a good investment), your food should not rely on constant cooling. Peanut butter, trail mix, fruits and veggies, as well as a whole range of granola bars.
Some other ideas for camping foods include:
- Canned food
- Beef jerky or soybean jerky
- Nuts and fruits of choice (I love cranberries and pecans!)
- Instant noodles or rice
- Sources of protein (ideally non-animal as they perish easily)
- Powdered milk
- Some cooking oil
- Marmalade (for peanut-butter-jam sandwiches, yumm!)
The last question to answer, of course, is how you’ll prepare your food, which brings me to another bit of essential camping gear: a portable camping stove and a thermometer to check the meat temperature. With this power-combo, you’re all set for a comfy outdoorsy adventure, and you’ll finally get to live those movie scenes with some camping-ground favourites like chilli, stew, pancakes, and fried fish.
While we’re on the topic of food, make sure to bring some light plates, cutlery (ideally wooden, save the planet!), cups and bottles, and a good metal pot and pan. Don’t forget to clean up the campsite after you’re done.
Final Words on Base Camping Places and Lifehacks
Remember, base camping is all about simplicity and achievable comfort. As such, there are no specific places that you should (or must) go to, except for the ones you personally want to visit or have agreed with friends to camp at. While you cannot really camp by the main road, you could turn many locations into a good campsite. Still, for the best experience, pick places that offer some natural shelter (e.g. trees), have a water source nearby, and proximity to a place you want to visit.
For beginners, I advise checking in with Mr Google to find registered campsites near places you want to visit – I hear certain locals don’t like trespassers and may or may not be armed.
Finally, while you’re planning your base camping trip, always remember these guidelines:
- Follow the rules of the campsite and don’t disturb others.
- Don’t leave a mess behind you.
- Invest in quality gear that guarantees comfort.
- Pitch your tent on an even ground and secure it well (PS pitch in the daytime).
- Don’t camp close to animals so as not to disturb them – you’re a guest in their house now.
Last but not least, always carry a roll of toilet paper. The three bears probably won’t lend you any 😉.