Mindful Camping Tips & Advice: Plan Your Asheville Camping Adventure
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you enjoy spending time outdoors and have probably even joined us for a yoga hike. If so, it might be time to take your nature experience to the next level.
There are tons of physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come along with unplugging from work and tech and fully immersing yourself in nature overnight. We have some tips to help you to get started safely and mindfully!
I know I was super nervous the first time I went camping. But once I prepared, got out of my comfort zone and woke up the next morning, I felt really courageous and accomplished. These feelings lasted longer than the trip itself, encouraging me to take more risks other parts of my life like my job, cooking, meeting new people and trying new things.
Erin, one of our yoga hiking guides and avid camper herself who also works at our local REI, has put together a list of benefits and advice to inspire you to get outdoors for a bit of an extended stay! Keep reading for a list of camping gear essentials and how to prepare for an overnight adventure.
Namaste & Have A Great Day!
1. Silence & Solitude
We all tend to wrap ourselves up in busy, vibrant and complex lifestyles which can lead to excessive thinking, worrying, anxiousness and burnout. Even when we get home from work (or play) and are ready to relax, we usually can find several distractions that may hold us back from a total refresh like television, social media, cell phones, chores and even other people. Though we love lots of these things and they can bring great benefit in their own ways, there is healing in the spaces between.
A beautiful way to create space within a busy lifestyle is to carve out a weekend to spend outdoors. Put your phone on airplane mode, finish up all projects before you leave and invite the people whom will be on the same page as your goal - time for yourself, time to detox from mass media, and time to connect with nature. When we are in nature, we can separate ourselves from the buzz of the busy bees around us. We hear the tone of the natural earth. It is both grounding and healing for me to return to my roots as a human being on planet Earth without a layer of complexity from society, media and work. I tune back into my natural instincts, remember who I am and what I dream of and who I want to become when I still the mind enough to pause and breathe.
2. Exercise & Fresh Air
Hiking, climbing, paddling and other outdoors activities are fun ways to integrate exercise if you’re not a fan of the gym or a follower of a boring exercise routine. [Check out this awesome list of 70 outdoor things to do near Asheville by Romantic Asheville, one of our trusted, local travel sites.]
I dare say that you would never catch me in the gym but I still live an active lifestyle. I get so energized when spending time in nature. Whether it’s hiking the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, climbing exceptional sandstone at Red River Gorge in Kentucky or biking around the hills of Asheville - the key is to get out and moving. Once you’re outside and active, the muscles of the body begin to oxygenate, build strength and release lactic acid and other toxins. All you need is physical movement and BREATH. Muscles do not tone or strengthen without adequate oxygen provided by breath. Just relax, move & breathe.
I notice my vision becomes clearer, my physical senses enliven, my mind begins to clear after just a few minutes and my mood increases exponentially. I find myself smiling for no explainable reason whatsoever other than I am enjoying myself and feel good. If you’re camping overnight, plan a campsite that has trails accessible and leave the site behind.
3. Trail Community & Security
Though you may run into some fellow humans, it is very unlikely you will have a negative encounter with folks on the trail. In my experience, 99% of the trail community will offer a kind “hello” and smile while passing by. If you are in a sticky situation, the trail community will most usually have your back.
For example, my trail family and I once forgot to bring water on a hiking trip at Shenandoah National Park. We were all carrying heavy packs, had been in the woods for a couple days at that point and missed our last water source. We stopped at an overlook to take a break, enjoy the view and check to see if anyone could scrounge up even an ounce of water to split three ways. One of the families behind us must have noticed our famished faces when we discovered we were totally out of water because they brought full bottles over for each of us. The moral of the story is, people on the trail tend to take care of each other. Never be afraid to ask in a time of need - we are all in this together.
Let’s get to it! I hope you have gained insight into how rewarding spending a night outside can be. If you have, check out our overnight camping gear essentials list below and happy trails!
Overnight camping gear essentials:
Tent with footprint or tarp and rainfly -
You never know when a mountain storm could roll through, keep all belongings that would be affected by rain inside the tent while you are away. Diamond Brand Gear supplies age-old, quality tents in the Asheville area and can be ordered online at www.diamondbrandgear.com.
Sleeping bag & pad -
You can use an air mattress or backpacker’s sleeping pad found at your local gear shop. My personal favorite sleeping pad is the REI Air Rail. As a side-sleeper, it keeps me from rolling off and ending up in a tangled-mummy-bag mess.
In the summer, you will be fine with a sleeping bag anywhere in the 30-degree to 50-degree range. If you’re planning to invest and take future trips in colder weather, a 30-degree bag will be your holy grail. If it’s chilly, a sleeping bag liner will give you an additional layer of warmth. Those of us planning to backpack, a mummy bag will be your biggest bang for your buck.
Pro-tip: You can use clean clothes as a pillow by arranging them in a stuff sack and save weight on your trek in.
You’ll want to carry water and light snacks, maybe a blanket to sit on or hammock to swing in, and your headlamp when you take off for a hike from the campsite.
Though not crucial, a headlamp is an excellent, hands-free option if you’re setting up camp after dark, getting up to use the loo in the middle of the night and as additional safety if hiking after dark.
Water bottle or reservoir -
The choice is yours. Many brands make hydration packs which are daypacks including a hydration reservoir holding as much as a liter on your back.
Water purification -
Depending on the area and if you plan to drink fresh spring water, keep in mind that chemical, dissolving water purification will protect against bacteria, protozoa, cysts and viruses (in remote places with sketchy drinking water, not likely needed in the U.S.) In-line filters protect against bacteria, protozoa, microplastics and dirt.
Think chemical water purification if you are going to places with unsafe drinking water. Think in-line filters if you are journeying to a nearby mountain within the states. Always check with the visitors center or online beforehand to locate water sources and grade.
Check out “How to Choose a Water Filter or Purifier” for more information on choosing the best system for your travels.
Trash bag & sandwich baggies -
Leave no trace. In other words, if you pack it in, pack it out. Don’t leave any trash left behind at the campsite or on the trail. Trash bags are generally suitable for campsites depending how much you bring with you and sandwich baggies fit nicely into your daypack so you can keep trash separate from other items.
Pro-tip: Pick up any pieces you may spot on the trail and earn good earth karma.
Trowel & toilet paper -
Leave no trace also applies to your bathroom breaks! If #1, you are all set. If #2, use your trowel to dig a hole and squat. Bury the evidence and please use your sandwich baggie to pack out your TP, as well!
First aid kit -
This one speaks for itself, you may get cuts and scrapes along the way. I recommend a basic kit that includes an ace bandage wrap in case of sprains.
Protect that beautiful skin of yours!
Additional batteries -
For your headlamp or other electronic devices you carry.
Another “you never know” situation. A simple multitool that includes a blade and scissors should suffice.
*All of the above can be found at your local REI or gear shop.
Nice to have:
Yoga mat -
Nature is an intimate space to reconnect with yourself and your practice on the mat. The sounds of the wind, of the insects, of the silence can be relaxing techniques to help deepen your practice and meditation. Let it go and let it flow. If you’re not sure where to begin, tune into the body and find what feels good. Yoga begins when we turn our attention inward.
Raincoat or poncho -
Like I mentioned, “you never know...” A raincoat is up to personal preference and dependent on the season.
Bug spray & aloe vera -
These will come in handy if you are sensitive to bug bites and if you forget your sunscreen!
Always a plus for me. Though, it never hurts to get a bit extra vitamin D! Just promise not to look directly into the sun.
Portable charger & charging cables -
For your gadgets and gizmos.
Spending time in solitude and silence can easily ignite the creative spark. If you’re a writer, bring along a small journal that will fit in your daypack for those moments of profound and sudden inspiration that you won’t want to forget!
Maybe writing isn’t your passion, maybe reading is? Take some time to relax by the stream and soak in undisturbed time between you and an inspiring book. Remember all those books you have wanted but didn’t have time to read? You’ve got all the time in the world, baby.
Hammock & straps -
Speaking of creative outlets… a hammock is a serene environment for a midday nap, an afternoon journaling session, personal time with you and your book. Or if you’re audacious, a nice place for your sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Goodnight!
Always remember, book your campsite ahead of time, stop at the visitors center or secure a map before arriving, check the website or call ahead to see if bear protection is required, wear COMFORTABLE clothing and shoes for hiking (we love Asheville-based Astral Footwear), never let your sleeping bag get wet, trust the trail community, and let yourself go on an adventure!
Check out this list of the best camping sites near Asheville to safely camp around here. If it’s your first time we definitely recommend bringing along friends or family to join you. Campsites and trails will be less crowded on the weekdays and in spring and fall and most crowded on weekends and during the summer.