Every outdoors expert should know these tricks

Posted at 11:20 AM, Jul 06, 2015
and last updated 2016-04-05 11:14:57-04

There’s no easy way to become an outdoor expert: truly tuning in to Mother Nature takes years of roughing it.

But if you’re bummed that you can’t become Indiana Jones overnight, don’t fret — you can still learn some great ways to create camping experiences that jive with some of the challenges the great outdoors will throw your way.

A few tips:

Predict rain before it hits
Want to know whether you should hit the lake for swimming or bolt to your tent to make sure the rain fly’s secure? Look to the sky for answers. Clouds do way more than look pretty – they also clue you in about the weather. Cumulonimbus clouds – towering clouds with an anvil-like shape at the top – are notorious for bringing in heavy downpour. You can usually tell where the storm’s headed by where the cloud’s peak is pointing to, so if it’s heading in your direction, take cover.

If you’ve left your smartphone at home and are looking to predict how dry tomorrow will be, other clouds, such as thin, sheet-like cirrostratus clouds or hazy altostratus clouds predict rainy weather 12-24 hours in advanced.

Use your watch to determine direction
Out on a hike and left your compass back at the tent? If Grandpa gave you a good old-fashioned analog watch for your birthday this year, you are certainly in luck. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, just point your hour hand in the direction of the sun and imagine a line from the center of the dial that shoots halfway through the hour dial and 12 o’clock (1 o’clock if it’s daylight savings time). This line points south. Thanks, Grandpa!

Enjoy your campfire without being eaten alive
Nothing ruins a mellow night of Kumbaya and s’mores quite like being feasted upon by a hundred different insects. But you’re on their turf, and there’s a much nicer way to send them packing than by smacking them down to their deaths every time they buzz past. Burning sage keeps bugs away while producing a pleasant scent that might even help you out with that several-days-in-the-wilderness odor. It’s a win-win solution!

Keep your tent cool
It’s a common camping dilemma: you return from a day of fun in the sun only to find that it feels like the Sahara inside your tent. You could leave your tent unzipped during the day to ventilate it, but then your mind races while you’re away: are woodland creatures carrying off your precious belongings? Is a swarm of bees taking up residence under your pillow? Keep your tent secure and cool by hanging a tarp over it to save it from some of the sunlight that heats it up during the day.

Now that you’re ready to camp like an outdoor expert, head over to Roadtrippers' maps built for travelers and find the perfect campground to pick a spot to pitch your tent.

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