Hey there my women who hike! Founder Dani here. I am not an Arizona native. No, no. This whole exploring thing really only started about 2 years ago. Go back 11 years and you could find me running the streets of Chicago. Kidding. It was the early 2000's, I was rollerblading, duh. Anyhow, I grew up in a city with food, museums, the zoo, and the corner ice cream shop- that was me. Then one day, my parents decided that we needed change ad alas, we moved to the desert. I hated it, really. Dirt was gross rocks were gross, heat was gross, and here I was surrounded by everything I couldn't stand.
Despite my passionate hate for this state at the time, my parents wanted to jump right in their AZ bucket list, and so, not even a year of being here, we camped at the Grand Canyon. "Glamping" would probably be a more accurate description. We had air mattresses, comforters, homemade fajitas for dinner, fancy new lights, a giant 8 person tent for 4 people. We really set the bar high for the families eating franks and beans in our neighboring grounds. Despite all of that, I still wasn't a fan.
Fast forward to my life today and here I am! Weekend hikes, Mountain Chicks and my Mtn Dude take up pretty much all free time I have. I've changed a lot about the way I camp as well. No more air mattresses and comforters for me. Today I wanted to share 5 tips for first time campers. These are some lessons to live by that I really wished were passed along to my parents which would have hopefully trickled down to me in those early years.
1. Pack Light. I don't care who you are, we've all over packed for something at least once in our lives. And hey! I was the girl in elementary school with the mini stapler, the 400 box of crayons in case the 12 pack didn't do it and lead types .7 and .5. Yeah. I like to be prepared. However, you can still be extra prepared and pack items that can serve multiple purposes. I think the biggest culprit here is clothes. We all want to look good for the Instagram posts and for the people around us, but guess what, no one cares. Not showering for a couple of days can really change a person. Trust me, most people end up wearing the same clothes all weekend. If you have to choose between your cute fleece sweater and rain jacket + long sleeve shirt combo, I'd go with the combo. For one, you're layering and two, you're prepared for multiple weather forecasts whereas a single fleece could really take up a lot of space in your pack.
2. Make a list beforehand and see what everyone else is bringing. I know some people love to do things last minute, but hey you're camping, you should really think of a plan of action ahead of time. You'd be surprised how many items slip your mind but seem to come back once you start jotting things down. This will allow you to communicate with friends easier too. If there are 3 people coming on a trips, it's most likely that not every person needs to bring a camper stove. You could probably share one and someone else could pack food containers while another person could pack extra propane. Our ambassadors have actually put together an awesome starter list for camping and backpacking trips that we provide our members when we plan these types of events. We also have a blog on this topic that actually covers what items you can fit into a 25L pack.
3. Do your research. Seriously take some time to look at the campsite of choice before you go. Once you're there, how much time will you actually be spending on site? Will you be walking around to other trails? Do you have enough food to replenish your calories for a day of camping and exploring? What wildlife is in the area? What does parking look like? Is there shade there or should I prepare to be in the blazing sun all day? In case of an emergency, is there a gas station, store or other facility I can go to nearby? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself as Mountain Chicks before you go to an unfamiliar area, or before you bring others that are unfamiliar with an area.
4. Leave No Trace. There is nothing that pains me more than seeing trash in what should be a pristine nature site. Come on people, pack in what you pack out. It's really not that hard, it was brought in there somehow! As Mountain Chicks and outdoors-men, we need to be conscious of how we leave the places we enjoying spending time in. Aside from just being gross and bad for the planet, it's pretty sucky to go somewhere and have to pick up after other people. We have an awesome blog about the Leave No Trace principles so you can educate yourself on what the practice really means. So make sure you're packing a trash-bag with you!
5. Join a group. Camping for the first time can be hard! It's not easy to be removed from your natural element just so you can put extremely basic survival skills to the test. Most of the stress hiccups that can sometimes happen when planning a camping trip can be avoided in a group. Not to mention, its fun to get together with people that want to be there as much as you want to! The Mountain Chicks community is full of amazing women who hike that are eager to get outside. Did we mention we also encourage Mountain Dudes to come to our events too? Yeah I know. We're pretty cool. You can find a Mountain Chicks Chapter near you on our Chapter page. We have ambassadors across the globe that pan trips like this and hikes at least once a month. Join a chapter now! You can also attend events like REI Outessa and meet likeminded women that are excited to meet new adventure buddies.
Camping, glamping, whatever you do, spend some quality time outside. It'd probably the best and only way to be truly connected with nature. What camping tips and tricks do you have? Share them with us by commenting on our Instagram! And while you're there, get a picture of you in a classy Mountain Chicks shirt and tag us for a feature.
Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.