Help me sort of rough it, car camping style
May 9, 2014 1:14 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is a bike mechanic and he's going to be providing support for a large mountain bike stage race taking place over six days. He asked me to come, which sounds like a fun active vacation thing to do. It will be him and his business partner in a company truck, and me in a second car. There will be hot sweaty days of work, chilly nights and a mix of car camping and possibly a hotel here and there. I'd like advice on clothing and what else I should bring, for comfort and utility.

The stage race begins just outside our city and moves through the rocky mountains in stages, ending in a small town every evening. Some places we spend two nights, some just one. The day will begin with setting up a tent and tools, servicing bikes pre-race, servicing bikes post-race, loading the bikes onto transport trucks, packing up and moving to the next stage. Food is not an issue, and there are some shower facilities available, but not all the time.

Prior years the guys have just slept in the truck, this year I suggested a hotel room for two nights, once in the middle and once at the end, before the drive home, which was enthusiastically agreed with, leaving us with only three or four nights of camping.

I'm not the most outdoorsy person, and would like advice on clothing, hygiene and anything else I should bring given that I'd like to look as presentable as possible for most of the trip. I've got it down to tank tops, cargo pants and baby wipes, but I've got long hair that I prefer wearing down, and not sure how to manage that either. Dry shampoo?
posted by tatiana131 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Just a word of caution on the tank tops -- you may want to bring a couple of loose, lightweight long-sleeved shirts to wear over them. Even with sunblock you can get a crazy sunburn with bare arms/shoulders exposed to the sun for 10-12 hours.

Dry shampoo usually works pretty well (depending on your hair/activity level/etc), but I'd also suggest bringing a cute hat in case your hair isn't looking as good as you'd hoped. It will keep the sun off your head, too.
posted by kate blank at 1:23 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

For toweling off or wringing out wet clothes, microfiber towels (the camping kind, like this) are the real deal--incredibly absorbent, fast drying, pack away a fraction of the size of a "real" towel. Mine is only 12"x20" and I can use it to completely towel off after showers at the gym and it packs down to a 4" cube. You will never regret owning one.
posted by blue suede stockings at 1:26 PM on May 9, 2014

Camp chairs! The team may already have them, but if not, a good camp chair can make or break a car camping trip.

Your beverages of choice.

Depending on the amount of down time everyone will have, lawn games can be fun. Bocce ball works particularly well with a wide variety of terrains.

It sounds like food/water/kitchen is taken care of. You may want to grab some snacks you're partial to though. And I always make sure coffee is covered even if someone else is covering group food.

You'll want a tent, a good sleeping bag, and a good ground pad. Do not skimp on the ground pad.

As for clothing, you'll want layers, but what kind of layers will depend where in the rockies you are and what time of year you're there. You'll also probably want a good pair of shoes or boots as well as a pair of sandals.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2014

For your face, you might want to bring cleansing wipes instead of baby wipes, if you're prone to breakouts.

Yes to dry shampoo - I also bring some bandanas to keep the greasiness at bay.

If they have pit toilets, bring hand sanitizer. Actually, just bring hand sanitizer anyway - I try to stay away from it, but it'll come in handy when camping. Also, if you're going to be on your period, bring not-clear baggies to dispose of the used items in case the toilets don't have trash cans and you have to carry them for a bit.

A headlamp is really useful, especially if you have to use the bathroom at night.

If the nights are chilly, bring a warm hat to sleep in.

Last thing - after a day or two of not having showers, I try to stay away from tank tops, because I'm weird about showing armpit hair. So, you might want to bring some regular tees, too.
posted by umwhat at 1:40 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to hand sanitizer, you can get spray peroxide at Walmart or CVS Pharmacy to help you stay clean.
posted by Michele in California at 3:25 PM on May 9, 2014

Are you looking only for fashion and beauty advice (for which I am useless) or for general car camping advice (for which I have a four-page packing list I could give you)?
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:15 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even though you prefer wearing your hair down, you should at least bring be prepared to put it in a braid. If it gets windy, you can end up with pretty bad knots that are no fun to unravel.

Be prepared for hot afternoons and cool/cold evenings and mornings. Warm slip-on boots, fleece pj's and a big sweat shirt for evenings and bathroom runs.

If you want to try for a Hobo bath -- a spray bottle with soapy water, a bath puff, a spray bottle with clean water and towel. Wear flip flops. Spray yourself with soapy water, scrub with bath puff, spray with clean water and towel off. Sleeping out is so much better when you're clean, and if you get really hot, put ice in the clean water spray bottle and use it to cool off.

And I second the camp chair.
posted by 1066 at 5:21 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you're car camping, I'd see about renting/borrowing a camp cot (with sleeping pad) instead of using an air mattress. Makes a world of difference in the quality of your sleep.

If you have medium/long hair, wear it in braids/pigtails. Bandannas (either worn as headbands or kerchiefs) plus dry shampoo can tide you over between showers.

File your nails down so that they're short/won't break. I buff mine before camping trips and use a nail pencil. If you'll be helping out, get a good pair of work gloves to protect your hands.

For makeup, I pack BB cream, tube mascara, and a lip/cheek stain. I've yet to find eyeliner that won't budge, so I go without.

Good socks are key, but pack blister block and bandages.

Use a clinical-strength antiperspirant.
posted by evoque at 5:25 PM on May 9, 2014

Are you looking only for fashion and beauty advice (for which I am useless) or for general car camping advice (for which I have a four-page packing list I could give you)?

A bit of both. A four page camping list might be overkill, as I'd assume many items would apply more to food/permanent camp, but general hacks and tips for a driving/camping situation would be great.
posted by tatiana131 at 7:54 PM on May 9, 2014

Headlamp if you have one. Flashlight if not. New batteries
ponytail holders. You will put your hair back at some point.
yes on wipes
extra socks (daytime and sleeping)
same on undies
nail file...your hands/nails get dirty when camping
rain gear of some sort... at least a poncho with a hood
of course, fleece
long yoga pants/sweat pants for hanging out/sleeping
long sleeve tee to layer for colder starts/ends of days
roll of toilet paper
Have fun!
posted by Kitty Cornered at 6:56 AM on May 10, 2014

OK, here's my list minus things about meals and shelter and Girl Scouts. Just the stuff you might not think of, that make car camping more enjoyable:

Headlamps (with extra batteries)
Flashlights (with extra batteries)
Lanterns (with extra batteries)
Hammock and ties

Tablecloth and clips
Water bottles

Lip balm
Bug spray
Hand sanitizer
Wet wipes

Interpretive field guides (flowers, insects)
Star chart/night-sky identifier
Pen and paper
Art supplies
Duct tape

Deck of cards
Geocaching box

Hats (sun, rain, warm)

Dried fruit
Pumpkin muffins
Macadamia nuts
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:16 PM on May 11, 2014

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