There are tons of amazing benefits to camping out by Lake Arrowhead. You’ve got loads of trails, activities and amenities on your doorstep all whilst being a small distance from the city. That makes it a perfect way to get away from it all without spending a fortune on flights and hotels. But there are a few things you’re going to need to make your camping experience as pleasant as possible.
Okay this might sound a little bit like a no-brainer, but there’s a couple of things to remember here. Please check your tent before you go. Last time I took mine out it had a broken pole and I didn’t realise until I was spending the night in 40mph winds on top of a cliff. Not fun, and definitely could’ve been avoided. Since you last used it, things might have broken or the fabric might have torn, or it might just need airing out.
Also, check the size of the camping pitch you’ve booked. Some sites organise their camping pitches by size and charge more for larger tents, so make sure your tent is the right size for the pitch. No one likes tripping over someone elses guy-lines that are on their pitch. Which brings me onto…
Spare guy-lines and pegs
This is another thing that people always forget to check before they go. Especially if you’re going somewhere that’s exposed to the elements, you’re going to need to hold your tent down as securely as possible. If you can, invest in some storm guys - they’re heavy duty straps for adverse weather.
Check your pegs, especially if they’ve been used a lot. Most of mine now look more like circles than pegs from hammering them in at weird angles. You don’t want to get there and realise half of them aren’t really usable.
Roll mat and bedding
Okay, let’s talk about comfort. First of all, before you pitch your tent, check for rocks under your groundsheet. There’s nothing worse than finally getting your tent up and secure to find there’s going to be a rock or root sticking into your back as you sleep. So sort that out and to make extra sure, consider bringing a roll mat or self-inflating mattress to make sure you have a good night’s sleep. All else fails, a yoga mat cushions the floor too. I’d avoid those giant mattresses you need a pump for - they just deflate halfway through the night and take ages to pump up again.
Also, don’t forget your pillow and sleeping bag. The amount of times I’ve ended up using a hoodie or my jacket for a pillow because I forgot it is almost embarrassing and definitely not comfortable.
Somewhere to sit
Although you might have adventurous plans in the daytime which means you don’t think you’re going to be spending lots of time at the campsite, it’s always helpful to pack a collapsible camping chair, some cushions to sit on or a hammock to chill out in.
Even if it’s just somewhere to sit and have a beer at the end of the day - sitting in the trunk of your car doesn’t quite hit the relaxing spot in the same way.
Mosquito spray and SPF
Okay guys, let’s ignore the fact that realistically we should be wearing SPF all the time anyway, especially here in California, but you really need to wear sunscreen if you’re camping. The sun’s going to wake you up earlier, you’re going to be half-asleep wandering around looking for the restroom and trying to find coffee - that whole time you’re exposed to UV that could damage your skin. It’s easy just slap some on before you head out.
The same goes for mosquito spray, just douse yourself in the stuff before you leave the tent. Especially near the lake and on the trails, those little guys are everywhere and you don’t want to be resisting the urge to itch those bites for the rest of your trip.
My favourite section - snacks. Now this depends if you’re going the whole nine yards and bringing a camping stove and kettle and all that cooking stuff. If you’re planning on walking into town to grab a coffee and takeout, you’re still going to need snacks. When I’m camping, half my day pack is granola bars. Okay, not the healthiest thing in the world, but they keep my energy levels up and can double as an on the move breakfast if I need to get on my way.
The only thing with snacks is that it's best not to bring anything that smells too strongly in case of bears and other wildlife coming to pay you an unwanted visit…
Keep hydrated people, like with SPF this should be something we’re doing anyway, but bring a reusable water bottle with you (maybe grab one of ours from The Wander Co.). Not only is this so much better for the environment, it’s much more convenient. Most campsites have refillable drinking water taps and if you ask in most bars and restaurants they’re more than happy to fill your water bottle back up for you.
Even if you’re using this time to go off-grid, chances are you have something, whether it’s a phone, camera, sat-nav, headphones, torch that needs charging. Portable battery packs are widely available and relatively cheap now and can charge most devices. Definitely a must when you know you’re not going to have access to mains electricity for a day or two.
There’s a saying “there’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. Never is this more true when you’re camping. You might be out hiking in shorts and a tank top and in the night, the temperatures drop and you need a sweater and sweatpants. Then the next day when you’re hiking through woodland, you might get caught in the rain. Pack for all eventualities. It doesn’t have to be a suitcase full, just a light rain jacket that you can stow away in your day pack and some light layers you can throw on if the temperature drops.
A positive attitude
This might sound cheesy, but honestly if you go camping with the wrong attitude you’re going to have the worst time - think Meredith Blake in the Parent Trap. Camping can be an amazing way to connect with nature, be independent and see more of the world off the beaten track, but you have to be open to it, and you have to be open to the possibility that something might go wrong. Roll with it. It’s an adventure. It’s a story to tell. Have fun with it.