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Camping in Texas can be an unbeatable escape from your daily stress. Whether you rough it in a tent and wilderness area or “glamp” in a trailer, RV or cabin in a state or national park, it is pure heaven. But how can you still enjoy camping when the climate doesn’t cooperate? By using these camping tips for weather surprises
That was what we faced on our most recent trip to Sam Houston State Park. By following these useful camping tips for weather surprises, we salvaged the weekend. And still got to spend outdoor time with friends and family. You can too.
DO NOT SKIP THIS #1 Rule of Camping !!!
Check the long-term weather forecast! Especially in Texas, you prepare for blistering heat and freezing cold, no matter what month it is. Maybe the Donner party could get stuck in an unexpected blizzard, but smartphones have eliminated weather surprises like that. How is it so many of us either ignore this step or worse, don’t act on the information?
Our mobile weather apps all forecasted a cold front for our camp out weekend. Maybe the warm/sunny weather has a way of crashing our decision-making process. Meteorologist, on the other hand, probably live in hermetically sealed rooms and have no such bias. They just report what the models say is going to happen. Sometimes the meteorologists are wrong but….
Act on the weather forecast
It was in the 80’s during the week leading up to our camp out. While setting up our trailer at the park on Friday, we wore shorts and sun hats. I got a funky suntan from my sandal straps. Our group crowded together under awnings to keep from getting sunburned. When we went to bed late that night, it was 73 degrees.
That temperature was also the high for Saturday. It occurred at 1:05 am. Then it plunged to 42 degrees for the rest of the weekend. Face it. Usually, those forecast is pretty accurate.
Hurricane Harvey taught us well
I’m a true believer in weather forecasts after Hurricane Harvey. Saturday before Harvey hit Houston: the day was beautiful and calm. A friend even took her three young daughters to have manicures despite endless dire warnings by that Weather Channel stud, Jim Cantore.
My friend was in the middle of drying her top coat when the screaming started. All the customers and manicurists huddled in a bathroom. A tornado had been kicked up suddenly by the still far-away disturbance.
We reluctantly passed on a dinner out with friends. Good thing. We woke up to ten inches of flooding in our house. Harvey convinced us to pay serious attention to weather forecasts, no matter how calm it looks at the moment.
3+ Useful Camping Tips for Weather Surprises
After checking the forecast, here’s what you should have on hand to insure a safe and comfortable camping trip, no matter what the weather.
#1 Emergency Clothing
For a minor temperature change, you can layer or remove clothes. But sometimes you need to do more. Items for both the warm or cold weather kit can pack into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag if space is at a premium in a tent. We have a tiny travel trailer, so we keep both kits in a cabinet on-board.
The cold-weather kit should include at the least:
- Silky long johns – more squishable and warmer
- Stocking cap
- Wool socks
- Rain poncho
If you’ve got the room, include a scarf, rubber rain boots (mine are herringbone-patterned ones from Payless), and maybe a fleece jacket. I could have used that at Sam Houston State Park.
Hot-weather kit is a little less bulky. For unseasonable heat, pack the following:
- Squishable sun hat
- SPF long-sleeved shirt
- Zip-off cargo pants – this is my go-to camp wear no matter what.
- Bathing suit – I know, I know – I can’t remember the last time I wore one. But wouldn’t you hate to miss a glorious opportunity to cool down in an inviting pond or lagoon?
#2 Water-proof shade canopy
- Most trailers and tents have an awning, but if yours doesn’t, a pop-up canopy is worth lugging with you. We have a camper, and we still bring one to camp locations like the beach or river. A canopy saves you from being stuck inside your tent/trailer if the rain won’t quit. And never think of sitting on a beach without one. Skin cancer and sunstroke are such buzz kills.
#3 Heat or Cooling Source:
- Campfires are not just for warmth; they are the social heart of camping. Dryer lint is a perfect fire starter. And here’s a hack to help your kindling fire burn hotter and longer to ignite your wood. Stuff cotton rubbed with Vaseline into a drinking straw and close each end with a little heat. See how to do it here
- A portable heater that works on propane cylinder if you need heat you can move around. We use the Big Buddy portable heater.
- Misting Fan –Preferably a bucket-top one like below. If you have a camper with AC, this may be redundant. Still, who wants to go camping and hide inside all day because of the heat. You can set this up on the beach, in the campground, even on a boat. I have a much smaller tabletop version, but I’m considering moving up to spread around the comfort.
#+ Favorite Food – Pudding Shots
This is a personal thing, but food always tastes better outside. And the worse the weather, the more you need comfort food. This recent campout introduced me to pudding shots, which I’ll make from now on. This is an adult dessert that can be “virginized” if you want. As always – shoot responsibly.
No such thing as a terrible camping trip
A bad day camping, or glamping in my case, still beats most other days. Just listen to the weather forecast. Then follow these suggestions. No matter how the weather changes, you’ll have the wearables, shade or rain cover and a heater or fan to keep you comfortable.
If the forecast was wrong, mock it over some pudding shots. If the prediction was right, congratulate yourself on being prepared…and celebrate with some pudding shots.