We enjoy summer getways, but camping in autumn can be just as much fun and rewarding. In fact, for some it is the best time for a camping getaway.
Here are 9 reasons to consider camping in autumn and some packing ideas to help you to equip yourself for camping in the cooler months:
Benefits of camping in autumn
1: Better availability of campsites
Camping in summer is much more common than at any other time of year judging by the long waiting lists for popular campsites at this time. Popular sites are much more accessible outside of the summer holiday period. They will be less expensive as well and you won’t need to wait for years on a waiting list.
Newcomers to popular campgrounds will also have a better choice of campsites - unlike in summer where at best they will be offered the site that nobody else wants - devoid of shade, along a dusty thoroughfare, a long way from anything interesting, or all of the above.
2: Less hustle and bustle
The end of the summer holidays means less crowded campgrounds and a more relaxing camping experience knowing that not every square inch of the campgrounds will be taken up by tents, cars and people.
No waiting in a line for the shower or the barbeques either.
3: Better weather for outdoor activities
While the heat of summer is great for swimming and water sports, the cooler and brisker days of autumn (and spring) are much more suited to a whole variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and bushwalking, tennis, cycling, birdwatching, kayaking and outdoor games.
You are less likely to become hot and sticky in the milder weather, but you won’t need lots of warm layers either.
4: Better sleeping conditions
While autumn still offers the potential for warm days, the nights are longer and cooler and are much more favourable for sleeping, including sleeping in!
5: Enjoy a campfire
Campfires go hand in hand with camping, but on a hot summer’s day, who wants to sit by a fire, or cook over it? In the cooler weather, campfires provide a source of heat for warmth and cooking and become the gathering point to connect and bond with others.
You also won’t need to be so concerned about fire restrictions interrupting your plans, but be aware campfires are not permitted in some campgrounds.
6: Indulge in comfort camp food
The higher energy demands of autumn camping and outdoor activities opens the door to a whole new range of delicious hearty comfort meals and nibbles to keep you warm and nourished. With the extra activity associated with camping and the outdoors, you won’t feel guilty about over indulging either.
7: Enjoy autumn
The unique colours of autumn and the greener outlook are an obvious attraction for campers and hikers at this time of year, but so are the many activities, events, local markets and festivals hosted by local communities now that everyone has returned from their summer break.
Communities are alive and teaming with activities in autumn - so keep your eye out for them.
8: Fewer bugs and insects
While your campsite may not necessarily be insect or bug free, the cooler weather will see many of them retreat.
9: Entertaining kids in the school holidays
Wondering what to do with the kids over the autumn (or spring) school holidays? Well, take them camping. Since 2012, my sister, brother and I have done exactly that – usually over a week at a very popular beachside campground during the autumn school holiday break.
The cousins have a great time together and can invite a friend, the other parent joins us when they can and it’s a great all-round family bonding experience. And watch out if anyone attempts to even change the location!
What to pack for autumn camping
Being well equipped for your camping trip can really be the difference between a great holiday and one that you would prefer to forget and never repeat.
We suggest you develop a master packing checklist of everything you are likely to take on any given camping trip. Print a copy and add or subtract items in the context of your upcoming trip - the location, available facilities, your planned activities, and of course, the weather forecast.
While most of our camping gear goes on every trip, here are our packing tips for autumn camping:
- Sleeping bags and bedding: Check the warmth rating of your sleeping bags and how well they will cope with the cooler nights. If you are concerned about being cold, rather than upgrade, consider taking fleece blankets, flannelette sheets or even the doona/quilt from your bed for added warmth.
- Sleeping mats: Whatever you sleep on, check it’s insulation rating. The higher the rating, the more protection you will have from the cold air or ground beneath you. You won’t notice it so much on warm nights, but there’s no mistaking inadequate or no insulation in the cold. Cheap lilo’s and airbeds as well as many stretcher beds have no insulation. While we suggest you avoid the former altogether, stretcher beds can be insulated with a self-inflating mat or even something like yoga matting.
- Clothing: The interchangeable autumn weather really highlights the importance of clothing layers. Make sure everyone’s clothing selection includes a sun hat and a change of clothing if warm weather is expected, and also introduce the three-layer rule for the cold, including a water proof jacket, a middle layer and thermal underwear. Consider also warm socks, warm nightwear and water proof shoes.
- Headwear: As you lose 30% of your body heat from your head, consider a head beanie if the nights are expected to be cold.
- Campfire cooking: Our basic kitchen setup will cater for a wide range of meals but it is based on gas-fired cooking. Campfire cooking will require appropriate fire-resistant cooking gear, such as a camp / dutch oven, a jaffle iron, grill / frying plan, and the associated tools and utensils to manage the cooking as well as the fire.
- Games and entertainment: With summer behind us, packing shifts away from gear for summer / water-based activities to those mentioned earlier - including hiking and bushwalking, tennis, cycling, birdwatching, kayaking and outdoor games. Packing bathers is, however, a good idea in case you catch a warm spell.
So, don’t pass up on the benefits of an autumn camping getaway - it may be the last chance you get for a while to wake up in the great outdoors.