Fall is one of the greatest seasons for camping. Not only is the summer heat fast disappearing from memory, but the landscapes are brilliant hues of green, gold, red, and orange. In addition, the cool fall nights are ideal for gathering around a campfire and then cuddling into a warm sleeping bag. Best of all, many of the routes and campsites are considerably less busy than they are during warmer months, making the backcountry more peaceful and enjoyable. If you’re planning a fall camping vacation, keep reading for the best fall camping tips.

Is Fall a Good Season for Camping?

The fall season is ideal for watching wildlife and spending time outside enjoying nature.  Fall is a season full of change and beauty, with the leaves turning to vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange.  During a fall camping trip, one thing to consider is that the weather will be ideal for hiking and fishing during the day.  The temperature will be cool enough to enjoy but warm enough that your teeth are not chattering. 

If you’ve never gone camping in the fall, we highly encourage you to plan a fall camping trip this year. Our fall camping tips will teach you all you need to know about the proper clothes and equipment to keep you and your family comfortable throughout your fall camping experience. We’ll also include some fall camping suggestions for preparing great seasonal campfire meals and finding fun activities for the entire family.

tips for camping in the fall

Clothing Layers for your Fall Camping Trip

The weather in the fall can suddenly change from a warm sunny day to cool or even wet.  While it is difficult to foresee what the weather may have in store for you, the key is to prepare for anything by packing strategically. When packing for fall camping, bring clothing that you can layer to adjust for any weather condition.

The Base Layer

Begin with clothing that will act as your base or main layer.  This layer of clothing should be fabric that is breathable and helps to keep your core warm and insulated. To stay dry, choose a moisture-wicking material.  A good tip is not to wear cotton clothes as a base layer since it absorbs moisture, making you feel cold.

Mid-layer of Clothing

Pack a variety of mid-layers, such as fleece, sweatshirts, or sweaters, as well as lightweight jackets to allow your body to adjust to changes in temperature. 

Outer Layer of Clothing

Be sure to include a wind and water-resistant outer layer.  Bringing a poncho or rain jacket and pants is also a good idea for fall camping. You will want to be comfortable and dry when it comes to shoes because there is nothing worse than cold or wet feet.  We suggest you bring along waterproof hiking boots.  It is also essential to bring a stocking cap, warm gloves, and heavy socks on your camping adventure to make sure you maintain the heat in your body.

Clothing Checklist for Fall Camping 
  • A base layer that is warm and wicks away moisture.
  • Various mid-layer clothing
  • Wind and water-resistant jacket
  • Poncho or raincoat and pants 
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • An extra pair of shoes or boots
  • Heavy socks to keep your feet warm
  • Stocking cap or beanie
  • Two pairs of warm gloves

layered clothing for camping

Fall Camping Tips for Equipment

Next up are tips on the proper gear for a successful camping trip.  Having the right equipment is crucial whether you’re roughing it sleeping under the stars or staying in a cozy cabin.  Below is a list of essential equipment to help you stay warm and comfy:

  • Sleeping bag: For fall camping, make sure that your sleeping back has enough insulation.  It is advisable to have a sleeping back that allows you to be comfortable in 0 – 30 degrees weather. 
  • Sleeping pad: A sleeping pad will provide you some extra comfort if you are sleeping on the ground or in a hammock.  Also, it will give some additional protection from cold, providing added retention of heat.  
  • Wool blanket: Having an extra blanket or two is always a good thing!  Wool blankets are great because they are lightweight and they provide extra warmth on chilly nights.  If you are sleeping in a hammock, you can use wool blankets as an under quilt and a cover.  
  • Hot water bottle: A hot water bottle is great for adding extra warmth to your sleeping bag.  Boil some water over your campfire, add it to your hot water bottle and place the bottle at the foot of your sleeping bag.  
  • Tarps: Bringing along a few tarps can help save the day!  A tarp placed under your tent will help keep the tent floor dry, and a tarp hung on a line over your tent can prevent rain from getting inside of your tent.  Tarps are also great for a makeshift tent for anyone sleeping directly under the stars or in a hammock for some extra protection from unexpected weather.
  • Plastic bags: Plastic storage bags help keep valuables and gadgets, such as your phone, camera, or wallet, dry in the rain. To keep your stuff dry, you should line your backpack with a garbage bag.
  • Backpack: If a backpack is not your primary bag for your packing, be sure to bring one along with you anyway.  A backpack is a great way to carry food, water, extra clothing, and camping essentials when hiking or fishing.  
  • Bug spray: Even though fewer bugs bother you in the fall, be prepared and bring along a small container of bug spray, especially if you are camping by a stream or river.  
  • Sunscreen: You can get a sunburn even on an overcast day, so be sure to pack the sunscreen!  
  • Light source: Bring along a couple of flashlights, headlamps, or lanterns to help light the way.  During the fall months, it gets dark earlier, so be prepared.  It’s also a good idea to bring along some extra batteries!
  • A first-aid kit is an essential safety component for every camping trip. Scrapes and wounds are possible when enjoying the great outdoors, regardless of the season, so preparing is always better!

camping equipment

Food Prep and Meal Camping Tips

If you intend to cook over the campfire, be sure to bring along a cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven.  And, if cooking over the campfire just isn’t your thing, bring along a portable grill or camp stove. Finally, when it comes to food, be sure to keep perishable items in a cooler so they don’t go bad before you get a chance to enjoy them.  Next up is planning your menu.  Try to choose meals with a lot of carbohydrates and healthy fats when preparing your fall camping menu. These will keep your body fueled as it works hard to stay warm.  And, of course, for the coffee lovers, don’t forget to pack your favorite blend.

Another great tip to save time and frustration is to wash and chop all of your fruits and veggies ahead of time. Planning meals ahead of time will make things much more manageable.  Also, be sure to pack a variety of kid-friendly individually wrapped and pre-made snack items for extra energy in between meals.

campfire chili for fall camping

Campfire Meals

Cooking outdoors on an open campfire can be a lot of fun; what isn’t fun is chopping fruits and veggies for your meals outside.  You can save time and frustration by washing and chopping all of your fruits and veggies ahead of time. Here are a few easy and tasty fall camping recipes ideal for a fun and relaxing meal in the woods.

Baked Apples: For a yummy fall camping treat, core and peel your favorite baking apples.  Fill them with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of nutmeg.  Top with butter and wrap everything up securely.  Wrap your apples in tin foil and put them in a pan of hot coals. Cook your apples for about 30 minutes, rotating them regularly.  You can prepare this sweet treat ahead of time at home, so all you have to do is cook and eat!  

Campfire chili: A great meal that is easy to prepare over the campfire is chili.  Try this fast and simple recipe, or customize it with your favorite combination of ingredients. Brown the meat in a Dutch oven or skillet. Next, add crushed tomatoes, peppers, onions, and beans.  For spices, add in your favorite chili powder, along with a bit of cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper.  If you like spicy chili, add in cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, or jalapeno peppers.  This quick meal will take 45 minutes from start to finish!  

Cinnamon Rolls: Cinnamon rolls are a quick and easy breakfast.  Because this recipe simply calls for crescent rolls, sugar, and cinnamon, it’s easy to carry and cook. First, wrap each crescent roll over a skewer or stick, and then sprinkle your sugar and cinnamon to taste. Next, cook the rolls over an open flame until they are a nice golden brown.  Viola,  Breakfast is served!

Foil Pack Meals: Foil packets are a family favorite and a  traditional campfire supper that is super easy to prepare. Simply coat a piece of foil with nonstick spray, stuff it with your favorite veggies, meat, and seasonings.  The combinations are endless with this meal.  Our family’s favorite is stew meat or hamburger, carrots, peppers, onions, and potatoes.  You can use anything you like from chicken to sausage, and more.  Once your foil packs are full, fold the foil to create a package and seal the corners.  Cook your foil pack for approximately 30 minutes, turning it periodically.  Top with your favorite BBQ sauce or other condiments.  This delicious and easy meal can be placed directly on hot coals or cooked on a grate.  The beauty of this meal is you can make it ahead of time for a no-mess meal solution. 

campfire food

Fun Activities for Fall Camping

Fall is such a beautiful time of year!  While on your camping trip, don’t be discouraged by cool temperatures, and be sure to take advantage of everything the fall season has to offer. Below are some of our favorite activities. 

Canoeing: Even though the swimming season has ended, you may still enjoy the serene beauty of a river or lake in the fall. Pack your backpack with essentials and head out for your adventure.  We recommend having life jackets for safety.   

Fishing: Fishing can be a fun and therapeutic activity.  Although the temperature may be a bit chilly in the fall, the fish will still bite! In addition, afternoon and evening fishing is an excellent activity for fall camping.

Hiking: If you love to hike, then you know fall is the perfect time of year for an extended hike.  No worries over getting overheated, fewer bugs, and you get to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.  To prevent trudging through mud, choose a day that isn’t too damp. Pack your backpack with food, drink, and some extra clothing if it becomes cold or rains. 

Board Games: If the cold weather forces you to retreat inside, you can still have fun with board games, playing cards, or reading a good book.

fall weather hiking

Additional Camping Tips for Your Fall Adventures

To finish, here are a few more ideas for making the most of your fall camping trip.

Find your ideal location: Different regions will give different ways to enjoy the season depending on your favorite fall activity. Investigate the finest places to observe wildlife, see beautiful foliage, and harvest berries.

Allow time to set up: Remember that it becomes darker earlier in the day, so you’ll be stuck setting up in the dark if you don’t prepare ahead. Arrive at your campground early enough to get situated before sundown.

Keep an eye out for animals: At night, be sure to pack up all your food and keep it somewhere safe, so you don’t draw unwelcome attention from wildlife.

Stay hydrated: It’s easy to forget how important it is to drink water in chilly temperatures. When hiking or participating in other strenuous activities, remember to remain hydrated and have a water bottle with you.

Plan ahead: While this may seem obvious, it is worth emphasizing that you should always plan ahead of time and prepare for anything that may come your way. Make a packing list and check it off as you pack to ensure that no one in your family forgets anything important. Finally, keep an eye on the weather in the days leading up to your camping trip to ensure that you bring the appropriate clothing and stay warm.

Get Planning!

We hope you enjoyed our article on fall camping tips. Here at Impressions in Flight, we love everything about travel, from camping to exotic island adventures!  Visit us online to find your favorite travel amenities, snacks, comfort items, and more!