That crisp autumn air in your nostrils, the soft crunch of fallen leaves, the golden glow of an early sunset, less people, fewer bugs…camping in the fall is the best. Whether embarking on a late-season backpacking trip or shuttling the family to the mountains for some leaf peeping, getting outside this fall is a great way to make the most of the season. A lot of the standard camping techniques will carry you through fall, but here are a few extra fall camping tips to elevate your experience.

fall bikepacking trip

1. Stay Occupied

Whether it’s a day hike with the family, rock climbing, or a rousing game of charades, having some sort of objective will keep you warm and having fun, rather than focusing on the weather. Staying active throughout the day will not only help you sleep like a baby at night, it will also justify eating a big meal.

fall camping tips for camping in the rain

2. Bring Rain/Wind Coverage

Try setting your tent up in a protected zone and you’ll notice a discernible difference in how long you sleep each night. Making sure to properly stake out your tent and rain fly will also keep wind noise and rain from harshing your mellow.

layering with camping poncho fall camping tips

3. Layering is Key

Layers of clothing in a mix of wool, fleece, and synthetic materials will help wick away sweat and shed rain. Long underwear, a knit hat, gloves, an insulator jacket, and a wind and water-resistant outer layer will go a long way to keeping you warm, dry, and comfortable this fall.

fall camping meal

4. Eat Like Kings

Eating a hearty, warm meal can make a huge impact on your physical and mental state. Not only can you excuse your gluttony after all your physical activity, but digging into a nice big meal will help fuel your body, replenish your muscles, and keep you warm through the long, cold night.

(Super Pro-Tip/Ancient Proverb: Not only are one-pot meals delicious, they leave but one pot to clean.)

upgraded sleep system for fall camping

5. Upgrade Your Sleep System

Waking up freezing cold at 3 am is a terrible way to start the day. Adding a quilt or blanket to your kit and using a higher R-value mattress can make a big difference between time spent sleeping and time spent staring at the tent ceiling.

(Pro Tip: Share body warmth with a buddy by zipping two sleeping bags together.)


6. Fire it Up

Campfires are always an integral part of camping, and when there’s a frost in the air they can make the difference between a 7 or 11 pm bedtime. When you get a good group around a campfire it’s easy to forget how cold it is outside that orange glow.

sitting in camp chairs on backpacking tripPhoto: Jim Meyers

7. Whiskey

While it’s a myth that drinking alcohol warms the body—it actually does the opposite—it sure does warm the soul. Keep in mind that alcohol actually thins your blood, making your body temperature drop, so the more you drink, the colder you’ll sleep.

With a few tweaks to your standard summer camping routine, you can be warm, dry, and comfortable through the fall. For more tips on sleeping outside, check out our infographic, visually summarizing 12 Essential Tips For Sleeping Well in the Outdoors.

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Originally Published October 7, 2015