Camping trips are fantastic. The exhilaration of being outdoors, exploring nature, and living in a more rustic manner is tough to beat. However, there is no denying that camping also requires preparation and a special packing list!
Part of that process is your clothing. Unlike a simple beach holiday in Spain where you can pack shorts and t-shirts, what to wear when camping requires greater consideration. This includes different clothes for the seasons, and additional gear for nighttime.
If you are preparing for some epic camping trips in 2023, we discuss everything you need to know about clothing and what to wear below – enjoy!
It’s especially important to look after your feet when camping! You can lose a lot of heat through your feet, but if you are hiking and exploring, you want to be comfortable too.
Luckily, the list of footwear is relatively short and includes:
- Hiking boots
- Durable trainers
- Flip flops
The first thing you want is a durable pair of trainers – ideally ones that are waterproof. I wear Sketchers for walking which are incredibly comfortable, but they aren’t suitable for camping because they let water in. A balance of comfort and water resistance is essential.
Next, you might want to invest in a pair of hiking boots. Firstly, they are great for walking around a muddy campsite. Secondly, they give your feet and ankles extra padding and warmth. Thirdly, if you are trekking long distances with your camping gear, hiking boots give you the best support.
Lastly, you may want to take a pair of flip-flops. These are useful in several circumstances. Firstly, if you are stopping at a public camping ground you can wear them in the shower and washroom facilities to keep your trainers dry.
Secondly, they are brilliant when wild camping if you need to wash in a stream or natural water source. You can simply put your flip-flops on and again keep your main footwear dry.
Did you know that you lose most of your body heat through your extremities like your ears, fingers, and feet? Therefore, having the right headgear for camping is highly important.
The headgear varies depending on the season but can include:
- Thick woollen hat or beanie
- Baseball cap or sunhat
Pretty simple really! A woollen hat or beanie for cold weather, and a baseball cap or sunhat for hotter temperatures!
When camping In Autumn and Winter, a woollen hat or thick beanie is essential. It should ideally cover your ears completely too. You may even want to invest in a thinner thermal hat too. I have a thermal hat that I wear underneath my woollen hat and it really helps keep my brain warm!
For summer and spring, your head won’t get as cold. But you want to keep your face and neck shaded from the sun. Sun exposure can cause sunburn, but also dehydration. Therefore, I always take a baseball cap with me during hot-weather trips just to keep me shaded.
Clothes for your legs and body are quite varied depending on the temperature, your activities, and the time of year. However, the following are some essential items:
- Waterproof trousers
- Waterproof jacket
- Thermal clothing
- Multiple pairs of socks
Waterproof clothing is never a bad idea – regardless of the season. Waterproof trousers and a jacket will just make sure that you stay dry and comfortable. Moreover, they will protect any clothing you have on underneath.
Always make sure that you have plenty of pairs of socks too and that you keep them dry! Depending on the season, you may want to pack thermal clothing too. I have a pair of thermal leggings and a top and they are invaluable during the winter months.
For your bottoms, jeans can be hit and miss. During warmer temperatures they are fine, but they can be a nightmare if they get wet. That’s why I would opt for waterproof trousers instead – you can get thinner options that are suitable for the summer.
Speaking of the summer, you can of course pack t-shirts and shorts to soak up the warm temperatures. However, I would still advise packing some thicker clothing as a precaution, and for the nights.
When looking at what to wear when camping, you have to give special consideration to the nights. Remember that you have just the groundsheet, the bottom of the tent, and a sleeping bag separating you from the cold hard floor.
As a result, nights can be especially cold. It’s important to prepare properly and wrap up at night with the following:
- Clean socks
- Long bottoms
- Long-sleeved top
Don’t wear the same socks you used during the day to sleep in! I advise keeping a separate set of bed socks that are completely dry – this will help maintain your body temperature.
The other items of clothing just need to cover your body properly. So, long-sleeved tops, and full-length bottoms are ideal. For colder weather, these could be thermal. However, during the summer, you may be OK with standard long pyjamas.
Remember too that your sleeping bag can get pretty toasty if you are zipped up inside so you may need to de-layer during the night.
Tips to Get Your Camping Clothing Right
You should now have a great idea of what to wear when camping in different seasons and times of the day. There are some useful tips that can further your enjoyment and make sure you are prepared for every eventuality too – we share some below.
1. Always dress in layers
The biggest mistake I see people make when traveling and camping is to wear one layer of clothes. This gives you no room for adaptability and to improve your situation depending on changing weather conditions.
Let’s look at an example. You are sat at your campsite and it’s pretty chilly when setting up. Therefore, you are geared up in a single layer of thermal clothing – perfect! However, the clouds disappear, out comes the sun, and things start to get a little toasty!
Because you only have a single layer of clothing on, you have two choices – either sit naked (not advised!) or bake in your thermals. If you had multiple layers on in this situation, you could have simply taken some off to reveal lighter clothing that was more appropriate for the hotter temperatures!
2. Check the weather forecast beforehand
It’s advisable to do this regardless of any camping trip or travelling adventure. Of course, you can’t change the weather – it will be what it will be! But, looking at local weather forecasts can help you prepare.
Firstly, it gives you an idea of what activities you can do during the trip. Secondly, it helps you plan your clothing. For example, if you see it’s going to be incredibly warm during your camping trip even at night, you may not need to pack as much thermal gear!
3. Keep your clothes dry
Wet clothes are the bane of any camping trip. Wet clothes make people miserable. They can also be incredibly unhealthy and lead to complications or a deterioration of your well-being when wild camping.
Sitting in damp clothes can lower your body temperature and put you at risk of things like hypothermia when camping in the wild. It can also lead to skin irritation and things like ringworm.
As a result, always try and keep your clothes dry! It could be an idea to pack a portable washing line in your backpack. As a result, if some of your clothes do get wet, you can simply hang the line between some trees or your tents and let them dry!
When drying clothes, always wring them out first to get as much excess water out as possible. Then, make sure they are completely dry before you wear them again.
4. Never under-pack
I get that there is always the temptation to pack light. You want to minimize the hassle and reduce the load on your back or in your car. Also, people often under-pack on things like warm clothing during the summer.
I would advise against this on both counts. Your backpacks and cars are there for a reason, so make use of them! For me, if I had a choice of spending 10-15 minutes packing additional clothes, or potentially being cold and miserable, I know which one I would go for!
Sure – you might not need some of the clothing you pack. But isn’t it just better to ere on the side of caution and have them as a failsafe?
Take Care of Your Clothing for a More Enjoyable Camping Trip in 2023
We hope you have found this guide on what to wear when camping useful! Clothing is an incredibly important aspect of camping and we advise that you don’t take it lightly. There is nothing worse than sitting outside your tent, cold and wet with no prospect of improving your situation due to a lack of proper clothes!