How To Dress For A Camping Trip

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How To Dress For A Camping Trip | Darling Magazine

When I was little, going camping was pretty standard. We have home videos of my dad setting up the tents with my uncle, my cousins and I running around collecting bottle caps and my mom washing dishes in the tiny camper sink. Because my parents married very young and had three girls before the age of 30, they didn’t have extra money to spend on fancy vacations, nor did they feel we would appreciate something nice in our youthful age. All those years collecting memories with my family I truly cherish, and going camping has now evolved into beautiful backpacking trips with my husband, which we both adore.

We know there are plenty of city girls out there who love the wilderness, but when it comes to “roughing it,” you may feel a bit intimidated by not knowing what to bring, or what to wear. Well friends, there’s no better time than now to learn how to survive in the woods by looking cute (and smart) while doing it.

Know Your Location
Before you begin packing, do some research on the area you are going to in case the location is prone to rain or snow. Weather can be unpredictable (even in the summer) so depending on altitude and season, layering is vital to being outdoors.
At any moment the temperature can go from chilly, to warm, to hot, to cold to freezing, but be prepared and all will go well.

Get Strappin’
Starting with the most important thing about doing some hiking and perhaps even some climbing is that you’ll need a great pair of boots. Believe me, I had to learn the hard way and wore a vintage pair I bought at the flea market that I thought were cute. Terrible mistake. Several mind blowing blisters later, I could barely move, let alone hike. Obviously if you’re just doing some fun car-camping by the beach, you will be totally fine in your trusty running shoes or even regular leather boots, but if there is any kind of mountainous terrain, you’ll want something sturdier.

Also, as simple as it sounds, good socks make a big difference, so pack a couple pairs that are thick and if possible, made from wool.

Mix And Match
Because you’ll want to pack as little as possible (sometimes you’ll only have a tiny backpack to fill), finding items that can be mixed and matched is key. Try and keep your pack down to 1-2 items per category, meaning one tank top, one short sleeve, one long sleeve, one pant, etc., especially if you’re only there for a weekend. It can also make it easier to pair things together if you consider a common color palette.

Here is a way to visualize your outfit packing list. Try choosing only 1-2 items in each category of tops, bottoms and outerwear:

Sleep/Morning:
– Tops: T-shirt and/or Long sleeve top
– Bottoms: Slim sweat pants, thermal leggings, or wool leggings
– Outerwear: Fleece jacket and/or sweatshirt with hood
– Accessory: Beanie

Afternoon:
– Tops: Tank top and/or T-shirt
– Bottoms: Lightweight denim pants or shorts, twill pants or shorts
– Outerwear: Long sleeve top
– Accessory: Hat with a brim
– Extra: Bathing suit

Night (very similar to morning):
– Tops: Cotton long sleeve and/or thermal long sleeve
– Bottoms: Thermal leggings, wool leggings, denim or twill pants
– Outerwear: Fleece jacket, sweatshirt with hood or heavier nylon jacket
– Accessory: Beanie

Leave The Goods At Home
The last thing you want to do is bring any of your most treasured items because the spontaneity of events can leave clothes torn, stained or even burned. We don’t want your first camping trip to be remembered as the time you ruined your favorite cashmere sweater.

Be Low Maintenance
Unless you’re “glamping,” (glamorous + camping = glamping) and you’re welcomed to real showers, you won’t be able to freshen up the way you’re used to. Keep hair tamed by wearing cute hats, high buns, or braids. If you can’t stand dirty hair, try out a dry shampoo to alleviate the build-up-feel.

As for make-up, be ready to go au natural. If you feel like you want it, keep it light with some mascara and perhaps a tinted chapstick with SPF. Bring some face wipes as well so that it’s easy to remove before bedtime.

Nail It
If you’re anything like me, you don’t like seeing dirt in your nails. Unfortunately when you’re outside setting up your tent, making food or building a fire, your nails will tend to collect a little grime from being active. As a bonus, it could be helpful to take the extra step and paint your nails a dark color so that you won’t be able to see what’s going on under there. This is my favorite trick to camping, as it always helps me to feel ladylike, even considering the circumstances.

A few additional items that are must-haves:
– Sunscreen
– Bug repellent
– Environmentally friendly/biodegradable toiletries/unscented items
– Toilet paper
– Headlamp or flashlight

We hope the next time someone invites you on a trip to the wild for the weekend, you can say yes with absolute certainty. Explore the world where animals run freely, the air is clean and the view around you is picturesque! You won’t believe your eyes.

Photo by Jose Villa


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Cathleen is a writer, stylist and works for one of the leading fast fashion companies in the world. Based in Los Angeles, she and her husband enjoy quality time with friends, traveling and random dance parties. Find more of her work at cathleensimmons.com.

7 COMMENTS
  • Exclusive Store June 27, 2016

    Thanks for nice piece of information. I really enjoyed your posting.

  • CuteXvillian123 September 6, 2015

    i got all the information i needed to go camping. So, thanks SOO much about this so i can get ready to camp with my friends. And also dont have to be headache about what to choose.

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  • Elvis May 23, 2014

    Thank you SO much! (From the top article) I now feel relieved about the “clothes” topic!!! My family and I are going camping for my birthday, and I didn’t want to feel “under-dressed.” I mean, come on- it’s my BIRTHDAY! :)Well, thanks so much again!

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  • Anna July 10, 2013

    I just returned from a 6-week camping trip with my boyfriend. We stayed in a variety of places, including Yellowstone, the Tetons, the Redwoods, Yosemite, and also camped 3 nights inside the Grand Canyon. I think this list has some good basics, and I would also recommend the following:

    1) THICK WOOL SOCKS. ESPECIALLY if you’re prone to freezing, like I am. In Yellowstone AND the Redwoods, in late May/early June, the temperatures were BELOW freezing. Also make SURE your sleeping bag is up to the task of keeping you warm.
    2) Silk leggings – I dislike the bulky feeling of layering, but over Christmas I got a pair of silk leggings from Cabelas for $50, and they are so thin and lightweight, they keep me warm in 28- temps plus windchill (tested them in Chicago) AND they layer well under my skinny jeans! WIN.
    3) Bikini top in place of your bra. If you’re camping in a place that has a creek/ocean/river, it’s way easier to just keep your bikini on all day and avoid the inconvenience of having to change. When we backpacked into the G.C., I only brought my bikini. It’s lightweight, dries fast, and looks super cute under a v-neck. 😉

    And as far as the nailpolish, good thought, but make sure to have a few clear coats on top. Mine chipped off and looked even worse than if I had left them bare. :\

  • R July 10, 2013

    One thing I wanted to add as a lover of the outdoors in the glorious PNW- if there’s ANY chance it may be cool or wet {including from sweat}, skip the cotton! ‘Cotton kills’ is the backpacking/skiing motto here. Since it doesn’t dry fast, it keeps you cool and lowers body temp fast. Nylon or any synthetic blend is always better, plus, you feel sweaty{ick!} for less time!
    Thanks for the great article!
    🙂

    R

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