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Camping Tips For Beginners

Camping Tips

Do you love being outdoors and sleeping under the stars? Do you dream of crisscrossing the country in an old pickup truck, or hiking through the wilderness without having to worry about wifi? Here’s are several camping tips to help make your camping adventures awesome!

“I’m new to camping. What do I need?”

When you’re new to camping, it can be overwhelming. There are so many things to remember and so much gear to buy. If you’re just starting out, take a deep breath, because it really isn’t as hard as you think it is! We’re going to talk about five things that every beginner should know that will get you on your way to a great weekend (or week) outdoors.

Before You Go Camping

Be sure to check the weather before you go. You don’t want to pack for cold weather if it’s going to be warm, or vice versa.

Camping Tips For Before You Go

When planning a camping trip, it’s best to plan ahead. Secure your campsite well before your scheduled departure. If you wait until the day before or show up in the evening, you might find that all of the nearby campsites are fully booked and you have to drive a long way to find a spot.

Make sure your car is in good condition and has plenty of gas in it. You don’t want to get stranded on the side of the road somewhere on your way up or down the mountain.

Bring all of the equipment you need for your campsite and make sure it’s all in good condition. No one wants to go out into the woods to find that their tent is leaking or that their sleeping bags are broken.

Bring plenty of food with you—you don’t want to have to go shopping once you’re already there!

Where Should You Go Camping?

Probably one of the best camping tips we can give is for you to start out at one of your local state parks. Many states have ample camping and recreational opportunities for low cost. A lot of these have amenities such as toilets and showers (you may not want to completely immerse yourself in the wilderness on your first camping trip).

For instance, in Michigan, you can visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website to find and reserve a state park campsite.

Need More Camping Tips?

Be sure to check out our sister website, hikehuntcamp.com for more great information on camping adventures.

Questions or comments?

Leave a comment below or reach out to us at our contact us page and we’ll get back to you.

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Campfire Safety Tips

5 campfire safety tips

5 Campfire Safety Tips

According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 90% of the cause of wildfires happens because of people. These wildfires start with people leaving campfires unattended, cigarette butts, debris burning, powerlines that are down, and intentional arson. The last 10% of wildfires start by lava or lighting.  Here are 5 Campfire Safety Tips to make sure you’re being responsible.

Camping responsibly means doing your best to ensure that your camping party does not cause these kinds of accidents. Being a responsible camper also makes your trips more relaxing and enjoyable and ensures that your camping adventures do not get cut short.

1. Plan Ahead And Research The Rules

It always helps to know what the campfire rules are for the location where you’ll be camping.  Every site is different and has different government entities that manage burning regulations.

Specifically, some locations provide strict guidelines and require campfires to be in provided campfire pits only. Others have little to no restrictions, allowing you to use your best judgment in determining where to put your campfire. 

When camping in a different state, a secondary consideration is that bringing firewood across state lines can introduce pests and diseases to the locations that you will be camping. So, if you will be going to a new site, you recommend forage or purchase firewood. 

2. Weather Regulations

There are defined campfire rules that you have to follow for the location you’ll be camping in, but regulations are also weather-based and can change quickly.

For instance, as of this writing, there are significant burn warnings in many places in Michigan because it’s been such a dry spring and early summer.  Places out west are teetering on having outright burn bands in place due to the ongoing drought. To sum up this point, always check what the current conditions allow.

3. Firepit Safety

Always check with the local officials or wildlife resources to see if fires are allowed. State-owned parks will provide a firepit. This pit is the only place you are allowed to build a fire. 

If you are in a place where campfires are allowed, but there is no fire pit provided, it is best to use your shovel to dig a firepit. Look for space where there are no overhanging branches, powerlines, tent parts, and make sure there is a 10-foot circle of clear space around the firepit.

Once you finish the firepit, line the outside of the ring with rocks ensuring a barrier if your flames start to spread. 

4. Put Out Your Fire At Campsites

Just like you lock your cars to keep valuables safe, when you leave your campsite unattended, put your fire out. An unattended fire can have items blow down onto the fire, or the wind can quickly spread the flames, especially if the fire is not in a firepit. 

Going on an all-day hike or climb only to arrive back at camp to the ravages of a fire is not usually a part of our camping plan. It does not add to the camping experience. 

Attached to the topic of firepit safety, wearing proper clothing around a fire will prevent burns. If you are camping with young ones, teaching them always to wear shoes around help to avoid burns on your feet from embers that have popped out of the firepit. 

5. Safe Fire Starting

Matches or a Ferro rod fire starter are the best ways to start a campfire. We enjoy using a tinder ball or a bushcraft fire tin because the fuel is contained in a way that ensures we have dry tinder for starting our fire. Depending on your location, dry wood and kindling are not a guarantee when camping. 

Conclusion

Camping responsibly benefits you, your host, and our world. We have to live here, let’s make it as safe, clean, and enjoyable life as we can. Adventures in the outdoors are a perfect opportunity to teach those around us fire safety.

Questions? Comments? Send us a message!

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10 Things You Should Have In Your Survival Kit

10 Things You Should Have In Your Survival Kit

What is a survival kit?

Before we talk about the 10 Things You Should Have In Your Survival Kit, we should define the context that we’re talking about. 

A survival kit could be any kit that you have put together for an emergency situation. For instance, it could be a kit that’s meant to provide you with food, water, and basic first aid supplies to hold out for a few days at home during the aftermath of a hurricane or other storm(here’s a good list from the Red Cross). 

Or it could be a small kit that you take with you when you’re hiking, hunting, camping, or just in the wilderness to provide you with the basic necessities to stay alive and be found.  It’s this later iteration of a survival kit that we’ll be laying out here.

10 Things You Should Have In Your Survival Kit

  1. A firestarter.  This could be matches, a lighter, or a ceramic and ferro rod firestarter.  Having a dependable firestarter allows you to provide heat and purify water-both survival requirements.  Adding some tinder options such as our Survival Tinder Balls are a great addition as well.
  2. A knife or multi-tool.  A good knife or multi-tool should be part of every survival kit, no matter the context.  For a credit-card style multi tool, check these out from MichiganFishingForever.com.
  3. A compass.  Depending on the severity of the situation, having a reliable navigation tool (and knowing how to use it) can be life saving.
  4. Emergency bivvy. An emergency bivvy can be a life saver. It can quickly function as both a sleeping bag or emergency shelter in inclement weather.
  5. Water filtration.  Having clean, drinkable water is a survival necessity.  While we don’t sell them here at Graft Outdoors, a Sawyer Mini makes a great survival kit water purification tool.
  6. Whistle.  When you’re lost in the wilderness, it’s important to be able to establish a signal that doesn’t appear natural. This is where a survival whistle can help you.
  7. Signal mirror.  You can usually find a good compass/signal mirror combo. This is great as it helps remove single-purpose items from your kit.
  8. Basic first aid kit.  At the very least, some medical tape, gauze pads, antiseptic swabs, bandages, and some ibuprofen would be a great first aid kit. However, take into account where you’ll be possibly stranded, AND your personal medical needs when putting together your survival first aid kit.
  9. Paracord survival bracelet or other length of paracord.  550 Type 3 paracord is made with 7 strands of nylon placed in an exterior shell.  So 10’ of paracord can give you up to 70 feet of high-tensile thread that you can use for things such as fishing line or thread.
  10. A Flashlight or headlamp.  Having easily accessible light makes navigating in wilderness much easier and safer.  

While not an exhaustive list of survival tools, this list does include the basic tools you’ll need in most survival situations where you’re stranded or lost for an undetermined amount of time.  With the tools on this list, you’ll be able to secure the four basic elements of survival: shelter, water, fire, and food.

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Camping For Beginners: Wilderness State Park-Michigan

Wilderness State Park is part of our Camping For Beginners series simply because it’s a great opportunity to explore the outdoors while not leaving civilization (Mackinaw City is only 10 minutes away, and there’s even cell phone service!)  It’s a great park to camp at that features multiple ways to camp, and enough space that you can spread out however you want to (please follow all of the posted rules and regulations though).

With the ample trails, the scenic beauty, and the relatively ‘wilderness’ feel, it’s a great spot for camping for beginners. Wilderness State Park is an amazing park in Michigan that’s just west of Mackinaw City in Emmet County.  Wilderness State Park features more than 10,000 acres of northern forests with some areas of meadows and swamps.  The park is next to the Headlands International Dark Sky Observatory which is a designated dark sky area which features some of the best night-time sky viewing in the midwest.

Wilderness State Park also has 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.  Most of it is rocky and shallow, but there are some beaches with sandy swim areas.  The west side of the park is great for shallow water carp and smallmouth bass fishing, depending on the time of the year.

Probably the best part of Wilderness State Park though is it’s beautiful ‘walk in’ tent campsites (really accessible, just a 20 foot walk from the designated parking area) that are right near the Lake Michigan shoreline.  It’s perhaps some of the most stunning camping areas (at least as far as official State of Michigan campsites go) that you can find in Michigan.  Off to the north east, you can even see the lights from the Mackinac Bridge at night.

Wilderness State Park features ample tent camping, RV camping, and has several bunk houses and group campsites. Amenities include ringed campfire pits (learn some campfire safety tips here), water pumps, pit toilets, trash dumpsters, and even showers.  There’s also a camp host in the campgrounds as well.  

As far as activities go, Wilderness State Park offers many!  There’s hiking, fishing, swimming, cross country skiing, and hunting allowed in the park’s 10,000 acres.  There is also a boat launch on the north side of the park, just west of the campground.  There’s even some limited phone service!  For some reviews of the park, check out this link from The Dyrt.