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7 Fall Camping and Backpacking Essentials

7 Fall Camping and Backpacking Essentials

By Teddy Dondanville, Contributing Blogger

Just because the temperatures are getting cooler and the days are getting shorter does not mean you have to retreat inside just yet. Autumn is a beautiful time to go on one last adventure before “the great hibernation,” aka winter.

I love camping and backpacking in the Fall for many reasons. I love the amazing autumn colors, quieter campgrounds, and, most importantly, the fewer bugs. In the Fall, I follow many of the same trip prep tactics. However, there are a few special items that I make sure to remember.

Keep reading for a few recommendations for essential items I always pack for Fall camping and backpacking trips.    

Extra Illumination (And Batteries)

Nightfall comes a lot faster in the Fall. That means you spend more time on the trail or around camp in the dark. Therefore, extra illumination is super important.

If you are car camping, string lights and lanterns can be a fun way to provide your campsite with functional lighting that looks nice also.

And, of course, unless you’re working with solar-powered or rechargeable devices, keeping a stash of extra batteries is essential for the dreaded dead battery situation.  

Sleeping Socks

One of my favorite sleeping hacks for Fall camping or backpacking is bringing an extra pair of sleeping socks. That’s because I love slipping into clean and dry socks before bed.

My sleeping socks are only for wearing while sleeping, and therefore never leave my sleeping bag.  For optimal coziness, I prefer a heavier-weight sock made with merino wool. 

I double up my socks on super cold nights, but I am generally good with a single pair. Then I take them off in the morning and stash them at the bottom of my bag.

Scull Cap or Beanie

I rarely leave the house without some sort of hat on my head. But in the Fall, I typically trade out my hats for scull caps or beanies. 

Scull caps are thinner and more lightweight than full-on beanies. They are ideal for chillier nights and mornings around the campsite when a beanie would be too hot and bulky. 

However, if I suspect cold temperatures, I may select a beanie instead. Then, when the sun has come out a little more, and it’s time to get a move on for the day, I pack it away and put on a hat for sun protection.  

Puffy Camping Blanket

Gone are the days of dragging your sleeping bag out of the tent for extra warmth while sitting around the campfire eating dinner. 

Now, with the inception of down-insulated camping blankets, you never have to expose your beloved bag to dirt and debris or smoke and sparks ever again. 

Camp Booties

During the spring and summer months, I always remember to pack a pair of sandals for wearing around camp. However, in the Fall, the temperatures are often too cold to want to wear sandals at camp.

Therefore, I’ve evolved into packing down booties for my camp shoes. They are super warm, lightweight, and pack down to practically nothing. Thus, you can even take them backpacking.  

Extra Tarp

Tarps are one of the most useful and versatile camping tools at any time of the year. They can provide shade, break the wind, shelter you in a rainstorm, provide a dry place to sit down, keep you warm, and act as an improvised rainfly. 

But if I am car camping during the Fall, I always bring an extra. Between the cooler temps and extra precipitation, I rarely find a time when I wish I only had a single tarp instead of two.  

Hand and Foot Warmers

Nowadays, a package of hand and foot warmers lives in my camp box year-round. However, I most often break them out in the Fall. 

I particularly enjoy a pair of hand warmers in my puffy jacket pockets while I sit around a campfire. Then, before bed, I transfer them to the bottom of my sleeping bag for extra warmth while falling asleep. 

Remember– if you deploy this tactic, remove them from your bag the following day. 

Yes, it’s true– those delectably long and warm summer days are behind us. But don’t let that stop you from having one last outing to enjoy the Fall season. Remember these seven essentials in addition to your standard camping or backpacking kit, and you should be all set.

When it’s the dead of winter, and you’ve been trapped inside for days, you’ll be glad you snuck in one last adventure.


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