Summer is here and the new normal of domestic travel makes camping an easy and fun option for an escape from the city. It’s also a fantastic way to support local tourism who in some cases have been doing hard and in other cases (like camping in US national parks) are bursting at the seams. Given this situation, it’s worth scoping out what under the radar options might be available near you. Below, you’ll find some start-ups you may not have heard of before and other tricks you may not have considered that will cut down on the work involved to plan a camping trip.
What to bring and prepare
Arguably, the most important part about camping is the planning that goes into it. You’ll likely be needing a tent, a couple of sleeping bags and pads, and outdoor cooking ware, besides all the clothing you’ve got to remember. All these things add up, so it is ideal to find a local gear-rental start-up to set you up with the typically expensive equipment, without the hassle or commitment of buying it yourself.
If you’re based out of New York, Lower Gear and Gear-to-go Outfitters, have backpacks, hydration gear, headlamps, and a bunch of other basics that you’ll want for your camping trip. Even better, if you decide later that you want to invest in camping gear, Lower Gear also has discounted rates for new equipment.
Tentrr, a New-York based start-up, is another cool place to check out for gear, large or small, that provides pretty much everything you could need on a camping trip.
If you’re on the West Coast in San Francisco or Los Angeles, increasingly popular start-ups like Arrive Outdoors, (Sports Basement or Last Min Gear have a wide of camping gear as well as specialty equipment for activity-focused trips like surfing, mountain biking or rock climbing that caters to your week-long camping adventure.
Furthermore, these companies have so much inventory besides your standard “packing list” that is what really makes your experience all the more enjoyable. Once you’ve got your basics covered, you’ll want to bring along some floaties, a hammock and maybe even a guitar to make the experience even more enjoyable.
Recipe Ideas and good camping meals
Meals are one of the most memorable parts about camping. You’ll be outside all day, moving your body and baking in the sun, you’re definitely going to want a nice, satiating meal and of course, snacks. It is vital to plan out what meals you plan to cook, whether you are back-packing or car camping to ensure you’ve brought everything you need before heading out into the outdoors.
Arizona based, Outdoor Pantry is an online food company that makes freeze dried meals and snacks for camping that are prepared at home and simply reheated on the trip.
Green-belly Meals, an increasingly popular service for stove-less, no dishes, backpacking meals, easily provide busy adventurers with natural, convenient meals to fill them up on long days.
If you’ve got the time and motivation to plan out some simple meals yourself, the trendy start-up, Regrained has some unique, nutritious and sustainable treats made from left-over grain from local breweries, that you should be sure to bring on your next trip.
Simple meals like a warm, filling pasta dish after a day’s hike or fresh coffee sitting on the beach, will stick in your head even once the trip is over, so be sure to consider little joys that will make your camping trip more enjoyable.
How to choose a camping spot
A crucial part about camping, especially right now, is booking your campsite ahead of time. When choosing a site, there are a few things to consider. First, you should decide what kind of activity you would want to be doing. There are plenty of campsites by the ocean or lakes that are lovely in the summer for swimming and other watersports. If you are into hiking and seeing killer vistas, plenty of high-elevation camp-sites can be found in the mountains. If you’re a beginner, definitely look for sites with well-maintained trails and easy accessibility to avoid any added risks.
If you are based out of California, here you can find a list of open parks for camping or day-use. Importantly, here you can find resources on how to camp responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Camping spots close to San Francisco
Kirby Cove - This campsite quite literally looks at the Golden Gate bridge, and offers incredible vistas of the city, while still giving you that feeling of being away from home. It’s a great option for those who don’t want to venture too far away, but are still looking for the camping experience. (link to this campsite, if it is open)
Clear Lake - This campsite is one of the few that still has availability online so we’d recommend checking it out right away. It’s very popular for kayaking, canoeing, fishing as it is situated right along the water. As a small private property, it has kept its vintage character with a General Store and makes it easy to enjoy amenities from home while still being in the outdoors.
Half Moon Bay (aka Francis Beach) - This location has several available campsites in the area, including New Brighton and Henry W Coe, both of which offer water access and proximity to the forest.
Brannan Island - This spot, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, attracts boaters, windsurfers, and bird-watchers alike with its phenomenal location. The numerous islands and marshes with diverse wildlife leaves campers plenty to do and explore close to this campsite.
Anthony Chabot regional park - This beautiful campsite is located in the hills of Oakland, California. Here, campers have access to hiking, riding and biking trails which navigate through glasslands, chaparral and eucalyptus groves along the shore of Lake Chabot.
Camping spots close to Los Angeles
Malibu Creek campground - this close to home campsite still has availability and is very popular for locals who are craving a short getaway from the city.
Red rock Canyon - this site on the Ricardo Campground is open on a first come-first serve basis and is located in the beautiful natural landscape of desert cliffs and rock formations.
Millerton Lake - this campsite offers over 40 miles of lake-shore for watersports while the surrounding hills provide beautiful hiking trails. This stunning campsite provides all the amenities and fun experiences that any camping trip needs.
Table Mountain campground - this location offers beautiful vistas and the classic Los Angeles forest for campers. Given its proximity to the city, it books up fast, so we’d recommend checking it out while there is still availability.
El Moro Campground - this beautiful, oceanfront campsite offers stunning views right from your tent. This state park is really popular so check out their site for availability while you still can!
Camping spots close to New York
Hither Hills state park - this popular site close to the city is located on a 2 mile stretch of sandy ocean-front beach and right beside a fresh-water lake. The campsite also boasts unique “walking dunes” of Napeague Harbor with woodland paths for hiking and biking.
Round Valley - this stunning campsite is best known for its peaceful location away from the city. With stunning views of the water and forest, it is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to relax.
Rip van Winkle campgrounds - this location, nestled into the Catskills is open for self-contained camping in the beautiful forest. This private site is a bit more pricey but comes with all the pleasures of home you might miss otherwise.
Wildwood State park - this spot is growing even more famous with its prime location on Long Island. Its 600 acres of hardwood forest and bluffs overlooking the Sound make it perfect for hikers, while the beautiful water of the Sound is great for swimmers.
North-south lake campground - this site, close to the city, is again, great for people wanting to stay in the forest and escape the city. This beautiful campsite has space for swimming and relaxing by the lake, while still tucked away in the quiet forest.
All of these sites and more not mentioned are in prime spots for outdoor activities and adventures. Once you’ve booked your spot according to what you want to do on your camping trip, we’d suggest you check out websites like Trip Outside or Discover Outdoors for local day trips and guided adventure trips that will make your experience even more enjoyable. Both these sites allow you to book activities and even rent gear in advance.
Before booking, you have to figure out how you are going to get there. Quite a few campsites are not accessible by public transport or are located on logging roads that may require a higher clearance for your car. Be sure that where-ever you book is within your ability level or capabilities for your own safety and enjoyment. Furthermore, many campsites located in state or national parks require pre-booking and to ensure you get a spot, you should book as far in advance as you can. If the whole booking process is difficult for you or you don’t know where is best to go in your area, try some sites like Hipcamp that will make the experience a lot smoother. If you’d rather ease into camping with a bit more of the comforts from home, you should check out booking via Pitchup that provides simple booking for “glamsites”, that although a bit more expensive, could be the option you’re looking for.
Hopefully this article has helped you get excited to go camping this summer. If you found it helpful just let your friends know. If you have any other recommendations for spots in your local area or helpful outdoor startups we may have missed, you can shoot us an email or message us from your Tripsha account. We’d love to hear about other startups that are making this niche of travel more inclusive and accessible in the US.