Well, the title packing tips for women may be a bit misleading. There may be some items on this camping list that anyone may use! I included items that help keep me a) prepared, b) clean and c) warm (See Also: Women Go Camping Too http://www.campoutcolorado.com/women-go-camping-too/). Keep in mind, if you’re backpacking into your site, you don’t have much leeway and you’ll have to plan your packing carefully. If you’re at a campground, you can pack for a lot more comfort!
Packing Tips for Women: Be Prepared
You’ll want a good backpack that will keep everything handy for you. If you’re on a budget, you don’t need a really expensive pack. If you can splurge, and find a pack you love, get it, because you’ll use it for years and you want it to be comfortable for you and suit your needs. But if you’re not a serious hiker, you can get away with something much more basic. The comfort is the most important part. Try it on, make sure the shoulder straps sit nicely and are padded. Try the chest strap. I’ve found this is most comfortable when I’ve adjusted it higher, so it’s above my bust. The chest strap might seem awkward, but it stabilizes your pack and makes even a short hike easier. Women tend to have a smaller frame so look for a smaller, narrower pack and see if that works better for you. I like a pack with pockets on the sides, so I can have a bottle of water readily accessible in a mesh pocket and my camera or phone protected yet handy in a zippered pocket. Check online for more in-depth guidance on choosing a backpack based on your measurements: REI Backpack Expert Advice
If anyone knows of a decent pair of women’s cargo pants, please tell us about it in the comments section! My pet peeve is small pockets in women’s pants. I bought a pair of men’s cargo pants for camping and I love them so much! They are roomy–when it’s cold I put on a pair of leggings underneath these. Men’s pants pockets are deep, so I don’t worry about things falling out when I sit. I can fit my phone deep in the regular pocket and it rests on my thigh so I can sit without worrying about bending the phone. I can put my point and shoot camera in a side pocket. All the secure storage makes me giddy.
The fit is a bit strange—there is a lot of room for bits a woman doesn’t have, and you need to make sure you have room for the kind of hips a woman has and a man does not. Also, the waistband might be a bit gappy and if you use a belt, it may just bunch the waistband up uncomfortably. I am tall and not terribly curvy, so it works OK for me, especially when I’m wearing my hiking boots to buy me another inch. Which brings us to:
If anyone knows of some decent women’s hikers, I would love to hear about it. I wear a 9 ½ women’s shoe so I’m able to wear a size 8 men’s shoe. It’s difficult to find a men’s boot that’s narrow enough. I wear thick socks to help take up some of the space, but it would be nice to have a boot made for my narrower foot. I’ve replaced the insole of my men’s hikers since it’s so hard to find good boots. So if your boots are in otherwise good shape but have lost the cushion, try just replacing the insole to buy yourself some time. I prefer to try shoes on before I buy them, but I see a lot of women’s boots online. You’d have to be patient and be willing to try them and send them back if they don’t work. I prefer a boot style for the ankle support (and extra amount of protection against rocks and pokey plants), but not too high because you don’t want to restrict the movement of your ankle. I also want water resistance (I also treat them with a spray before wearing them. I like a lighter, less bulky boot, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing weights on your feet when you’re walking around.
Packing Tips for Women: Staying Cleaner
I call this my “shower”. At the end of the day, as I’m changing into my sleeping clothes, I start at my face and wipe some of the yuck away. I use one or two wipes for my whole body, working from the top down to remove sunblock, sweat, and dirt.
I keep baby wipes in my backpack for a quick hand wash after using the outhouse and before eating.
One of my newest packing tips for women is to use dry shampoo. I save dry shampoo for the last day of camping, when we will be heading into civilization again and I don’t want people to see my greasy roots. You spray it in and brush it out. I don’t see a difference right away…it takes a few minutes to work, but then the grease is gone. I have straight, fine hair so this one works great for me.
I trim my nails to a reasonable length before camping, but since I’m doing so much with my hands under dirty conditions, I tend to get jagged nails with dirt under them. Having nail clippers with a cleaning tool/file included is really helpful, and less dangerous than cleaning them with the tip of a pocket knife, like my friend Chris does. If you can get a kit with tweezers, that’s even better. You’ll want blunt-tipped tweezers for errant hairs, and you’ll want pointed tweezers in case of a splinter. Like this one.
Bears Won’t Eat You
You CAN go camping when you’re on your period. Bears are not attracted to your menstrual blood. Don’t miss out on a fun time because of bad timing. You have your normal options—just make sure you pack enough for days and nights and pack extra underwear and an extra pair of pants just in case. You’ll want some zip top bags—quart size to carry the waste in your pocket until you find a trash can if you’re near trash; gallon size if you’re backpacking and need to pack all your waste out. If you’re backpacking, you can cover a gallon bag with duct tape for privacy. You may want to pack some feminine wipes as well. If you’re wearing men’s cargo pants, you can take this time to wonder why men get these roomy pockets when they don’t need to stash feminine products and wonder why designers think you shouldn’t be able to do this with your work trousers or jeans. What do guys DO with all of this storage space, anyway?
The temperature of various campgrounds in Colorado can vary a lot by location, elevation, and of course, the weather.
You’ve likely heard before that the secret to comfort in Colorado is layering. That is so true. Hoodies were one of the best inventions ever for Colorado weather. I picked up a nice fluffy men’s hoodie, which I had to find in the men’s department because I couldn’t find any warm hoodies for women.
Sometimes I stand around in my men’s hoodie and men’s cargo pants and men’s hiking boots, thinking that it sure would be nice to have clothes cut for my body that were also warm and sturdy and useful. And then I think, as long as I’m dreaming, I might as well turn in for the night…
Insulation While Sleeping
The temperature at night at some higher elevations can really dip down. I have a mummy bag rated to negative 10 or so, which has really helped, but I STILL get chilly in the tent when the temperature is above 40 degrees. If you are one of those people who gets chilly a lot, you may need to get creative with your bedding. You want to protect yourself from the cold ground and create pockets of air to trap your body heat. You’ll want a sleeping pad, air mattress, or cot to lift you off the ground. You’ll also want to explore bedding options. I’ve tried it two ways, and both of these options work. I’ve also done both at once on really cold nights:
- Insert your sleeping bag into another sleeping bag. This works especially well when you put a mummy bag into a regular sleeping bag.
- Use a comforter the same way, basically fold it in half and put the mummy bag inside.
Also, a lot of my camping friends have started using these interlocking mats for the tent floor.
They also help protect your feet from sharp rocks under the tent.
Packing Tips for Women: Inside Your Sleeping Bag
One of my favorite packing tips for women are hand warmers. I always have air-activated charcoal heat packs on hand, like this one. Slipping one of these into the bottom of your sleeping bag really helps keep your feet and legs warm at night. They take a few minutes to warm up, so be patient! They also have smaller sized packs that you can slip into your gloves or boots during the day if you’re really cold.
Plan your sleeping clothes carefully. I use a thermal layer for sleeping, like these:
And warm socks are a must! These are my favorite.
I hope that this packing tips for women camping helps you round out what you take camping. This should really help you comfort and ability to handle a variety of situations. If you have any other packing tips for women to make camping more comfortable or enjoyable, please share them below!