20 TIPS FOR CAMPING IN HIGH WINDS - PANERGY
High winds might not be everyone's ideal camping weather, but they don't have to ruin your trip, either. Take our advice to get the most out of enjoying the great outdoors -- when those outdoors decide to start playing a little rough.
1. WATCH THE WEATHER FORECAST
High winds may be the harbingers of worse weather to come. Before any camping trip, check the forecast for the area where you'll be traveling. Keep an eye on incoming rain, hail, or increasingly severe conditions, and plan (or cancel) accordingly.
Bring a friend or two to camp with you. Extra hands are great at holding down lines to keep gear from flying away, and extra bodies will weigh down your tent at night. Plus, you like them, right? You'll have great stories to share for years to come.
3. STAY IN THE OPEN
Don't set up camp near any trees that might shed a branch or two in an unruly gust. Basically, you want to keep you and your family and friends out of harm's way. Stay out of the path of potential windborne debris, falling limbs (or whole trees), and other hazards. Aim for an open spot. Low bushes may offer a good mix of windbreak opportunity with low risk of injury.
4. WATCH YOUR EYES
Even if you're confident that you're out of range from flying branches and other concussion-causing objects, remember that high-velocity sand, dust, and dirt can do a number on your stuff and your body -- especially your eyes.
Get the upper hand on flying this-and-that by clearing it away from your campsite before it can work its way into your mouth, hair, and whatever. Rake and sweep leaves, loose litter, and anything hiding underneath from around your campsite to keep it from going airborne in your vicinity.
6. BRING THE RIGHT GEAR
Make sure you have the best tent for high winds. A 12-person family-style tent with an awning and room to stand up on a fellow camper's shoulders is not the best shelter in a high-wind area. The less surface a gust can push against, the better. Limit your tent selection to low-to-the ground, sturdy models that can ride out a rough patch.
7. RESEARCH WHAT YOU HAVE
Tents come with all sorts of ratings and recommendations, so be sure to familiarize yourself with yours. Look for maximum wind ratings, and pay attention to the numbers and what they mean. You may feel brave enough and savvy enough to survive a windstorm, but will your tent? Sure, you'll be OK, but consider the cost of buying a new place to sleep if your current home-away-from-home gets ripped to shreds.
8. IT'S ABOUT FACE
If you're happy with your tent, try to set it up so the wind flows over and around you. The last thing you want is to offer a breeze that's building into a bluster anything that looks like a ship's sail. Orient your tent so the narrow ends are facing into the winds.
9. TIME YOUR ARRIVAL
You can't do much if heavy winds arrive without warning, but if you're expecting to get blasted, do everything you can to hunker down before the gusts arrive. It's way easier to set up everything properly while it's calm, as opposed to trying to snag the necessary parts and pieces while getting buffeted.
10. DON'T SKIMP ON THE SETUP
Wild weather will exploit any weakness you give it, so be sure to stake everything properly, secure it well, and don't cut any corners. Rushing a step or two while you make camp may help you get out of the wind sooner, but can lead to bigger headaches later as repeated friction finally works a flap loose or tugs a shallow stake free.
Avoid inserting your stakes straight into the ground, like a nail into a piece of wood. Instead, pound them in at a right angle so they can better resist forces trying to rip them free. Also, if wind camping is your thing, you may want to invest in grooved, wind-resistant stakes.
12. HANG WITH THE GUYS
Guylines can be a lifesaver?or at least a tent-saver. Learn how to properly set up these lines that attach to the rainfly and add stability.
13. AVOID THE FLY IF YOU CAN
If it's not raining and you can manage it, refrain from putting the fly (also known as yet one more piece of fabric for the wind to play with) on your tent. In fact, you may want to open the tent up near the top, if possible, to allow air to flow through instead of pushing against the tent like a kite.
14. THINK LIKE A SAILOR
Learn a few different knots so you can secure ropes and lines of various thicknesses in a variety of circumstances. Be sure to stock your mental list with configurations that will hold what needs to be held secure?and then can easily be undone later. You'll want to be able to break camp without having to sacrifice your nails to undo a lump of cord, or having to sacrifice the cord itself when you give up and cut it with a knife.
15. PREPARE FOR REPAIRS
Bring along a kit so you can sew and patch your tent up as needed, even if you're only going to be gone for one night. Also be sure to bring a kit for sewing and patching up yourself as necessary, since high winds can lead to injuries.
16. FORGET THE FIRE
There are many tips that will help you start and maintain a fire in windy conditions (seek a low spot for your pit, etc.), but in high winds, it's best to avoid the blaze altogether. Unless you're on a rocky shore with no vegetation or other potential fuel around, you'll want to avoid the possibility of your fire getting out of hand and setting the forest ablaze.
17. DON'T BRING THE STOVE INSIDE
Of course you're not going to burn some logs in the center of your tent, but you may be tempted to set up your stove inside your shelter. Do not. Zipping into an enclosed space with your grill can be deadly, as the fumes it gives off can cause asphyxiation. If you absolutely need to light up a cooking system, keep it sheltered, keep it monitored, and keep it outside.
18. STAVE OFF BOREDOM
High winds may cancel your daytime plans or keep you up at night, so be sure to pack an engrossing book or deck of cards so you can pass the time without getting cabin fever.
19. ACCEPT IT
The wind's not going to stop moaning, whistling, and rattling just to let you get a little sleep. The sooner you give in to the fact that your tent walls aren't going to stop flapping all night, the sooner you'll get some actual shut-eye. Luckily for you, you invested in a quality, high wind resistent tent, so you can rest easily knowing you and all your gear will still be in the same place in the morning.
20. LIVE TO CAMP ANOTHER DAY
Don't let less-than-ideal weather scare you away from the outdoors, but don't be foolhardy, either. Know when to hold your own, and know when to fold your tent up and come home. If the weather gets bad, get out if it is safe to do so. Be aware of the best emergency routes out of your campsite, as well as the location of the nearest shelters if available.