Unfortunately autumn is the definition of unpredictable weather and with the days gradually growing shorter, preparation is key to making the most of the nice weather before the snow begins to fall. Although falling lucky and grabbing that couple of weeks of an Indian summer is a possibility, it’s quite easy to face the prospect of waking up to frost on the ground. The night-time temperatures are much lower in autumn compared to the warmer summer months, so wrapping up warm is essential. The cold can seriously spoil a camping holiday, especially when lying awake at 3 in the morning shivering. To combat this however, we have created our ‘Field and Trek Guide to Camping in Autumn’ to help prepare!
The majority of modern family tents include a sewn-in ground sheet as standard, which is a must for preventing those cool drafts from entering the tent. The chance of rain is also much higher than that of the summer, therefore a tent with a good hydrostatic head rating is a must. A hydrostatic head rating is a measure of how waterproof a piece of material is (in this case tent fabric) measured by the amount of pressure of water that is required in order to penetrate it. A hydrostatic head of 1000mm for example will likely resist light showers, whilst tents with a larger hydrostatic head rating can resist heavier showers such as storms and gales. The Vango Maritsa 600 for example has a hydrostatic head of 4,000mm, which is more than enough for what Autumn can throw at you!
An electric heater is also a good option (subject to an electric hook-up). Although propane heaters are a possibility, it is not recommended, as tent material and open flames do not tend to mix well. In this situation a portable fan heater would be more beneficial. These provide a generous amount of heat for such a small unit and often come with built in safety features that causes the machine to automatically shut off if the heater falls over.
Although having a sewn in ground sheet prevents cold air from directly entering the tent, much of the coldness comes from the ground itself, and that is why layers are important, especially at night. Take airbeds for example, these can be particularly cold to sleep on, as effectively all they are is a block of cold air sandwiched between a thin plastic membrane. Insulation is essential at this time of year, both under and over the airbed. Many campers take to using roll out camping mats under the airbed to act as a barrier from the cold, whilst also using as many layers as possible between themselves and the airbed. This not only cures the coldness problem, but also limits the condensation (damp feeling) on the sleeping bag/bedding. Self-inflating matrasses should also be something to be considered during the cooler months such as these. Although thinner than an airbed, self inflating mats tend to have better insulating properties and are therefore the recommended equipment for autumn camping.
A suitable sleeping bag is also a worthwhile investment. Sleeping bags come in a number of specifications, with a variety of comfort temperatures and season ratings. For autumn camping, a season rating of 3 is appropriate. Sleeping bags within this category often have a comfort temperature of -1 - 5°C and are perfect for the changeable autumn weather.
A final recommendation would be to invest in good quality, dedicated outdoor clothing. These garments are constructed with insulation and waterproofing properties in mind and will keep the rain away during the day, whilst also keeping in the warmth at night. The essential kit for camping this autumn.
To view our full range of family tents visit our tents category at www.fieldandtrek.com/