3 week camping trip - Looking for suggestions & advice

1:44 a.m. on November 27, 2008 (EST)
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Hi folks. I live in sw wisconsin and looking to get away for a bit. Plan on setting off in early December. I have never been on a extended camping trip before. Just weekends on the sandbars of the Mississippi.

A little info about me. I am 43, average shape, in good health, and will be traveling solo.

Being new to this, I am having a hard time on deciding on where to go. Willing to drive pretty much anywhere. Camping style I am sure dictates destinations. And camping near my car at a traditional campsite will no doubt be part of my trip, but I really want to get off the beaten path. I am willing to hike or for that matter paddle to get to were I need to go.

Also, Looking to buy and new tent and sleeping bag. I have been searching and reading reviews. There seems to be a ton of quality tents. A 3 person tent seems be what I should go with. But should I get a 3 or 4 season. I don't plan on winter camping this year, but it will happen. It seems a good quality tent runs somewhere runs between $250ish to $500ish, and I don't really want to buy two tents. (or do I?) I seem to find mixed opinions on the subject on varies websites. Any thoughts?

I am also open to any suggestions on equipent or advice on any subject for that matter.

Thank you for your time, Jeff

5:05 p.m. on November 27, 2008 (EST)
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Jeff, It is hard to recommend a particular place to go because we don't have quite enough information about your interests. Three weeks is a long time, so you have plenty of options. Early December means snow in much of the country, so that limits you if you don't want to be snow camping. There are plenty of tour and guide books about the various national parks and Backpacker Magazine usually features places to go in each month's issue.

With the Internet, you can browse the National Park Services website and look at parks all across the country. Most states have similar sites. Backpacker has a site, too.

As far as gear goes, unless you are really winter camping (snow camping), I would not buy a 4 season tent. They are made for winter conditions and in general, are heavier and less well ventilated than a three season tent.

If you are solo camping, I would not get a 3 person tent-too big. I would get a 2 person tent unless I knew for certain I was going to be along all the time. My tent is a two person winter tent, but that's what I use it for-winter. It weighs about twice what a comparable three season tent would weigh. There are a lot of relatively inexpensive two person, three season tents on the market.

For a bag, again, lots of choices. Down or synthetic, various price ranges. My bag is a down bag, rated to about +25, which covers most 3 season weather. I have an overbag for winter, which goes over my bag to increase its rating, but most serious winter campers have a winter bag good for much colder weather. I'm not out in very cold weather, so I don't need one.

I realize my suggestions are pretty generic, but there is so much good gear available, it's hard to say, buy a particular product. About all I can say is read as much as possible, try to get to a big outfitter like REI with quality gear and start comparing in person. Once you narrow down your choices, come back and ask about them and you may get some useful feedback.

8:47 p.m. on December 1, 2008 (EST)
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How about the Florida Trail? You will not have to do any "winter camping" Also the AT in Georgia can be really nice this time of year, but for three weeks you will see some snow.

7:29 a.m. on December 2, 2008 (EST)
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You're not really clear on whether you'll be backpacking or car camping for three weeks. If backpacking, I'd say the biggest challenges will be where to leave your car for 3 weeks and how much 3 weeks of food in your pack will weigh.

It's possible to pull 21 days w/o resupply as I did a 15 day winter trip in 2006 with enough food and fuel leftover to go another 5 days. But I get the impression your trip will be more of a road trip and less of a backpacking trip??

12:10 p.m. on December 2, 2008 (EST)
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Ok, sorry about not being specific enough, Never done this before, so I was open to any suggestions. I do not plan on hiking out in the wilderness for more than 4 days. I plan on camping, backpacking and I just bought a kayak.
Decided to go the tourist route (for now). 2 to 4 nights stay, depending on area and moving to next area. Really, I am playing it by ear.

Looked up the AT and Florida Trails. I like it. Going to start planning. Wish me luck. Jeff

Thanks for the advice all and if I ever have another question to post, it will be more specific.

2:26 p.m. on December 2, 2008 (EST)
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I am off. Thanks Jeffrey, for the great idea.

7:20 a.m. on December 3, 2008 (EST)
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Having never done this before, I suggest you go to a place like Cumberland Island National Seashore and camp in the backcountry for a week - to see how you like the experience.

Cumberland is the 1st border island in Georgia - about 30 miles north of Jacksonville.

It has 4 primitive camps. You can hike from camp to camp on this twenty mile long island.

Cumberland is a great place to get some practical experience to prepare you for the Florida trail, and rangers are always within a couple of miles from you.

You'll need to make reservations. http://www.nps.gov/cuis/

4:22 p.m. on December 15, 2008 (EST)
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There is always Big Bend / Guadelupe National Parks. Pretty warm this year, for the most part. Although we had a high of 73 yesterday, then a front blew thru, and a low of 17 this morning.

September 19, 2014
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