The number of people walking out their front doors, tent in hand, to go camping is on the rise. According to the Statistics Portal, camping has risen from more than 41 million campers hitting the trail in 2008 to nearly 45.5 million in 2014. Wanderlust and a focus on the great outdoors in popular social media platforms like Instagram have more people than ever searching for some time in nature, away from the bustle of daily life and among the flora and fauna.
It's not just the arts that have us craving tree time instead of screen time. It's also science. Study after study shows that there are measurable benefits to being outside, from reducing stress to making us think more positively about the world. Some of us enjoy escaping so much that we keep a go-box ready full of the necessities for camping so that we can up and leave at a moment's notice.
Getting outside is good for the heart and soul, and an overnight stay brings even more benefits, such as the spectacular sight of a blanket of stars overhead. If science isn't enough to encourage you to give camping a try, then perhaps the following photos featuring the views that campers around the world soak in during their outings will be the necessary inspiration to get out the door. And don't forget to bring the dog!
Tip: Find a location to set up camp before dark. Ensuring you have a safe camping site with daylight left means you won't be trying to hike around looking for a spot in the dark, and potentially getting lost as a result.
Tip: Make sure your tent is weatherproof, and that you bring a sleeping bag suitable for any kind of weather. It's both uncomfortable and dangerous to find yourself with a lightweight sleeping bag if the temperature drops lower than expected.
Tip: "Leave No Trace" is a code among those who venture into wilderness, whether it's for an hour-long hike or a months-long backpacking trek. Whatever you pack in, pack out so that you help maintain the splendor of the wilderness.
Tip: A warm fire is one of the pleasures of camping. Check out the regulations for fires in the area before starting one. Some areas may have a temporary ban on fires due to dry conditions and the risk of wildfires. Other areas may allow fires but only in certain locations. Also, make sure your fire is completely out before leaving camp.
Tip: Dress in layers! Weather is famously unpredictable, and you never know if temperatures will rise or drop unexpectedly. Wear layers when camping, so that you're ready for anything.
Tip: Don't forget the essentials including a multi-tool knife, a first-aid kit, a headlamp and waterproof matches.
Tip: Don't lose your way. Be sure you have a map of the area as well as a compass so that you don't get lost. Even people who know an area well can get lost when venturing off trail. Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back before you leave so that if you do get lost, someone will call search and rescue for you.
Tip: A long day of hiking and taking in amazing views can make a person hungry — and thirsty! Along with packing lots of snacks, don't forget to bring plenty of water. It's better to bring too much water than not enough. Many people underestimate how much water they will need on the trail.
Tip: Know your wildlife. Check out the animal species that live in the areas you're camping and be prepared, especially if you're camping in bear country. But it isn't just predators to be wary about — birds, raccoons, foxes and other wildlife can snag your food when you aren't looking. Take extra precautions to keep a safe distance between you and any overly curious critters.
Tip: New to camping? Perhaps you haven't heard of terms such as cairn, gaiters, holloway and verglas. Brush up on your camping terms before heading out.