Road Trip from Chicago
I have some time off before I start a new job, and was thinking about going on a little road trip. I want to minimize costs and my time frame is anywhere between a week to probably about 3 weeks. I was an avid camper in the summers of my high school and college years but I don't have as much experience camping this early in the spring. I'm looking to camp most of my nights and getting a cheap motel room now and then, especially at the start when it's really cold out. About far south (either east or west) would you guys guess I would have to travel to be able to camp over night with it being insanely cold at night? I've stayed in cabins with only screens in temps. inthe upper 30s/low40s. I have a decent 2 person 3 season tent, and am looking to buy a nice sleeping bag for the trip. Just looking for some interesting camping spots at this time of the year that won't be too cold. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Spring Condition Camping
It has been quite a while since I slept in a tent in the snow. I am going tent camping next week in Death Valley -- but the conditions should be milder. I would suggest looking at David Sweet's recommendations -- he runs the About Camping.com site (normally I avoid any About.com web sites because of those annoying ads), but David has had some consistently good information on his site.
Originally Posted by happywanderer
I certainly understand what you are looking for: I've got the annual spring camping itch myself.
As you probably know, spring weather can change so much over the course of just a day or two. Look at central Illinois, they're diggout out from a snowstorm, just a week after getting hit with a tornado outbreak. That sums up spring pretty close to perfectly right there.
Thankfully, by this point of the year, there aren't many places that it still gets insanely cold at night, at least not very often. Average lows, even around here, are now about 30 degrees, so the farther south you get the better your odds will become of seeing more camping-friendly weather. I might suggest the southeast coast as a place that's a medium distance away where the weather should be pretty comfortable, but that's as much of a guess as anything.
I would probably think of a couple places and routes I want to go and start looking at local weather sites for those areas. The places expecting lots of cloud cover will be best for camping - 40s during the day and cloudy will stay near 40 at night, 50 during the day without clouds will quickly fall into to 30s or lower.
And just think, in a month or two, you won't have to worry about traveling to find good camping weather!
I was thinking more towards temps. in the 40s and 50s at night. A buddy mentioned areas near Charleston, SC as a good spot. Assuming I have a 3 season tent, a sleeping bag rated somewhere between 0-20 degrees, would I be ok during the night? I mean, I know it won't be warm, but I just want to make sure that I won't be shivering all night long.
I think South Carolina could be a good place to get what you are hoping for.
When I'm camping in spring and fall, with overnight temps in the 40's, I use my regular tent, but put up the rain-fly to help keep in some heat. If you've got a good Zero-20 Degree Sleeping bag you should stay comfortable, but I would recommend also getting a good matress or sleeping pad to help insulate yourself from the ground. The name brand ones like Therma-rest are kind of expensive, but I found a cheap self-inflating pad for about $20 that works just fine.
Thanks for the tips, if all goes as planned I should be on the road to SC area by next weekend.
You should be fine...
I agree with Midwest Michael. I live where it's not unusual for it to be in the 40's even in the summer at night. Especially if the skies are clear so the heat doesn't stay around. And, sometimes, with the windchill (I'm on the coast) can make it feel more like in the 30's at night.
The main thing is really the insulation mat. Cold from the ground feels colder than the cold from the air, imho. It doesn't hurt to take extra blankets as well. Putting one under you can sometimes help more than putting it on top to keep that coldness from the ground even further away from you.
A really neat type of blanket that you might look into is one with a vinyl side. I have one that I carry all the time in the car that is vinyl on one side and flannel on the other. It's great for picnics and other things where the ground might be damp and really keeps the damp away from you. I have put that on my tent floor and then put my insulation mat over that. It really makes a difference! Here's a nice one for a reasonable price. Here's another one from Coleman.
I really think this is a must-have that comes in handy in many ways and can really make a difference when camping in the cold.
Easiest trick of the lot
An oldie but goodie -- to keep your feet warm -- put on a knit cap (on your head) 70%+/- of body heat loss is at the top of your head.
Originally Posted by happywanderer
Chicago to Charleston and back to Chicago
I'm planning a solo road trip from Chicago to Charlseton and back. I don't have a set time frame but I'm thinking 10-14 days give or take a few. I want to have some scenic drives as the time isn't as important. I'm planning on spending about 4 days in Charleston and was hoping for some advice on some other cities/sites to see on the way. I'm planning on mixing in some cheap motels at first and then doing some cammping when I head south and to warmer areas. What city would you guys think is a reasonable first day destination for me? I've made the chicago to Cinnci drive plenty of times so I'd prefer to go farther than that my first day. Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone could recommend some nice secluded tent camping sites along the way would be appreciated as well. Thanks in advance!
try asheville -- black mountain, baltimore estate and a unique McDonald branch.