The coldest, shortest days of winter are already behind us and it’s only a matter of weeks until the snow begins to melt. Early spring is a tricky time of year for camping. Outdoor adventurers might need to contend with wet ground and cold nights—but with a little planning and the right attitude, Scouting youth can get out and enjoy nature any time of the year. Check out our top 12 Spring Camping Hacks to help make your next adventure a success!
1. Pack a footprint.
Also called a groundsheet, a footprint is a waterproof barrier between the floor of your tent and the ground. While it’s always best to pitch tents on dry ground, it’s not always possible in the spring.
A footprint will keep you from getting wet from below as long as your tent is set perfectly on top. If not, your footprint may trap rain water under your tent instead of allowing it to seep into the ground.
2. Bring drinking water.
Early in the spring, potable water might not yet be available at some camps or parks. If possible, phone ahead to ensure you will have drinking water on site. High and fast-moving cold water in the spring can make collecting and treating water unsafe—a camper could fall in the rapid current if they’re not careful. Be prepared with plenty of drinking water before you arrive at your site.
3. Use rope to keep gear off the ground.
While rope is handy in any season, but it can be especially useful in the spring. Not only might you need to rig a bear bag, but a length of rope can also be used to set up a clothesline—perfect for drying wet socks! You can also use rope to hang your backpack and its contents from a strong tree limb, keeping your gear off the wet ground until your tent is pitched.
4. Use a hammock tent.
Perhaps the best way to keep off the wet ground is to use a hammock tent. For any season, hammocks are great for minimizing your impact on a site.
Bonus hack: Just because you’re sleeping in a comfy hammock doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring along your sleeping pad. You’ll still want one for insulation from the cool night air under your body.
5. Build a raft for your campfire.
A fire needs three things to burn: fuel, oxygen and heat. In cool, damp spring conditions, heat can be a challenge. Set your campfire up for success by building a raft to insulate it from the cold, wet ground.
In your campfire ring, lay several longs alongside one another to make a raft. Build your campfire on top. Not only will this help ensure a successful campfire, but it will also minimize your campfire’s impact, in accordance with Leave No Trace principles.
6. Pack a fire-starter.
A fire-starter can be very useful in damp spring conditions when it may be hard to find dry tinder. Purchase fire-starter at the Scout Shop, or make your own at home by rolling cotton balls in petroleum jelly. Pack your fire-starters in a zipper-seal plastic bag, and you’ve got a leg up on the challenge of lighting a campfire in the spring.
7. Be the onion.
The best way to be like an onion isn’t to smell like one: it’s to dress in layers. Spring temperature will have you changing from T-shirts to sweaters and back in no time. Wear base and mid layers made from wool or synthetic fibres (like polyester). Depending on the forecast, you’ll likely want to wear a T-shirt, a mid layer (like a fleece) and a waterproof outer shell.
8. Pack extra socks and shoes.
There’s something to be said for minimalist camping in the summer. Even if your socks and boots get wet, it probably won’t be long before they dry out. You likely won’t have that opportunity in the spring. Keep a pair of dry camp shoes in your pack and extra warm socks. Try not to smile when you pull on your warm, dry socks after a day of adventuring—good luck!
9. Wear gaiters.
While also useful in other times of the year, spring is an especially good time to wear gaiters over your hiking boots to keep mud out off them and protect your laces. Gaiters are sturdy coverings worn over your upper boot and lower leg. They help.
10. In a pinch, line your boots with plastic bags.
Waterproof breathable hiking boots are a wonderful thing in the spring, but at some point you’re bound to discover your boots are more breathable and less waterproof than they used to be. When this happens, line your hiking boots with plastic bags when trekking along a muddy trail—it beats having wet feet on a cool spring day!
11. Use hiking poles.
Even sure-footed hikers can benefit from a pair of hiking poles in the spring when trails are wet, muddy and slippery. Having another point or two of contact with the ground can provide some welcome stability. Hiking poles can also come in handy when you come to a muddy puddle—they’re a good way to test the depth!
12. Hike on high ground.
Hiking trails along shorelines or through wetlands are wonderful in the summer and fall, but you might discover trails like these are underwater in the early spring. When planning a hike, consider the topography of your destination.
Not only will hiking on high ground improve the likelihood of a successful trek, but it also means that you can stick to the trail instead of bushwhacking around puddles—which means that you’ll be hiking according to Leave No Trace principles.
Try This App: Parks Canada’s National App
Parks Canada’s National App is your guide to some of our country’s most treasured places. The app can help you find national parks in any part of Canada, create your trip’s itinerary planner and personalized packing lists, and even give you access to downloadable trail maps!
The app also includes fun frames and stickers to enhance the photos you share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Best of all, it’s free!
Available for both Apple and Android devices. Check it out!