Let’s just put this out there: there’s a long list of things that can go wrong on a couple’s camping trip (we’ve heard some horror stories). But that exclusive combo of dirt, sweat, wildlife, sunset hiking and fire-cooked breakfast—not to mention the close quarters in your tent—can also be a bonding agent, which is why we’re strong advocates for penciling in a weekend camp trip for just the two of you. No significant other? Grab another partner in crime and book it to the campground before the busy season starts. Here are some helpful tips for making sure your first couple’s camp trip isn’t your last.
Take it easy
If both of you are into the idea of hiking 3,000 vertical feet, then go for it. Otherwise, slow down the pace and avoid steep terrain that might make your partner hangry (that’s hungry-angry—and it’s very real).
There’s nothing finer than pitching a tent close to your car—it means you won’t have to lug the essentials around in a backpack and you can tote along luxury items like a cooler and camp chairs. Scout out a campground that offers on-site parking, a fire ring, potable water, and—if you’re feeling fancy—showers.
Pack like a pro
Leave your ultra light equipment at home and indulge in fluffy sleeping bags, pillows, extra clothes to sleep in, marshmallows and a lantern. You can test out your new 1.8-pound camp stove next time.
A headlamp, cash to pay for your campsite, a pot or pan to cook with, two sporks, a few plates and cups, enough water to last you for a full day (or more if you won’t be near potable water), some wipes to clean off grime from your face and hands, a tarp to put under your tent, and matches. You’ll also need to buy wood if there’s no collecting wood allowed at your campground (you can usually purchase a bundle for about $6 to $12 at grocery stores near your campground).
Light the fire
No, literally—make sure you know how to light a fire beforehand (ladies, you too). It’s actually pretty simple: collect a few handfuls of dry twigs, bark and dead leaves (they have to be really dry of they’ll start smoking). This is your tinder, so pile some in the middle of the fire pit. Next, assemble a few larger twigs into a teepee over the tinder, leaving some space between the sticks for airflow. Light a match and catch the tinder on fire. As the flames pick up, start adding larger sticks to the teepee, increasing the size as the fire grows. If you need airflow, peel of the top of a bin or use a piece of cardboard to gently fan the flames.
Dress to impress
Cotton has no place in the wilderness, so leave it at home for your next date. Opt for sweat-wicking hiking pants or shorts, warm layers like fleece and down, a performance material tank or T-shirt, wool socks (yes, even in the summer!). Footwear is key: bring a sturdy sandal like the Original Universal or Terra Fi 4, a water and land hybrid like the Refugio, or a boot like the Raith Mid Event or Mid WP Mesh. Don’t forget SPF, a hat and sunglasses, as well as a day pack to carry snacks and water in. Mix tape of love songs totally optional.