Sunburns and downpours and bears, oh my! For all the joys of camping, there are potential hazards we want to avoid. Most aren’t nearly as dramatic as a bear bursting through your tent—they’re far more mundane, far more frequent, and (luckily) far more preventable. In this multi-part series, we will cover ground on how to camp safely.
Smart camping begins with preparation—and that means packing right, even if you’re packing light. Here’s what to bring:
Long-sleeve layers, rain poncho, and emergency blanket. Have you felt the chill at sundown or while camping at high altitudes? The most important thing for campers to remember is that sudden temperature and weather shifts happen—inevitably. Pack clothes that layer easily, and bring ample protection against a rainstorm or a cold snap. Even at the height of summer, temperatures can plummet overnight. Breathable layers of long sleeves not only keeps you comfortable; they also prevent insect bites.
Sleeping bag. The best bet is a dark-colored one with a water-repellant, windproof shell. Dark colors will absorb the sun’s warmth in the morning, keeping you cozy and comfortable at dawn.
Sunscreen. It’s essential throughout the year, not just on scorching summer days; clouds and snow actually intensify rays. The best sunscreen is a broad-spectrum version, protecting against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher. And don’t forget lipscreen to avoid disruptive chapping!
High-energy food. Think trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, energy bars, packets of oatmeal, and hard-boiled eggs: a good balance of carbs, protein and fat. Pack food in tight, waterproof bags and containers, tucked securely into insulated coolers.
Bug/insect repellent. Did you know that bites from mosquitos and ticks can cause harmful diseases? You can find repellents in many forms, from aerosols and sprays to creams and sticks.
First-aid kit. Rather than toss a pre-purchased one into the car, you should customize the kit with supplies that fit your group’s needs the best. Some things to include: medications, hand sanitizer, gauze, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs, tweezers, and compresses.
Emergency supplies. A map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, and whistle will all serve you well. Do not rely on smartphone apps; there are few outlets in the wilderness!
Leave at home: Perfume or cologne can trigger allergies at close quarters and attract undesirable insects. Too many layers of cotton can leave you perspiring. And remember: alcohol in excess causes dehydration (not to mention panic and confusion).
Graham crackers, chocolate slabs, and marshmallows: simple to construct and sweet to enjoy, the gooey S’more transcends the sum of its parts. Done right, the freshly-toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate, with the sturdy cracker holding everything together while boosting the “ooze” factor. It’s true that packaged S’more-flavored cookies and candy are available in between camping trips, but there’s no match for the authentic char of the firepit and the satisfying squeeze of the sandwich. It’s no wonder we all want “some more”!
Daydreaming about S’more got us thinking: what is the history behind this campfire creation?
First off, we can give thanks to Sylvester Graham, who developed the Graham Cracker in 1829 as a sweeter version of the traditional cracker. We can also credit the invention of the gelatin marshmallow, allowing mass production for the first time and fueling the fad of marshmallow roasts in the 1890s, which newspapers called “an excellent medium for flirtation.”
The basic template for the S’more—cookies and cakes that sandwich a clot of squishy, gooey filling—dominated desserts in the Victorian era. The closest ancestors to S’mores appear to be Mallomars and Moon Pies, introduced in 1913 and 1917. But the first recorded recipe for “Some Mores” was printed in 1927—that’s ninety years ago—by the American Girl Scouts. That’s right, this camping classic is related to the Thin Mint and the Samoa. So when the Girl Scouts introduced its “new” S’mores cookie this year, double-dipped and coated in chocolate, they were really pulling a throwback out of the proverbial pantry.
As for the contraction of S’more: Some say that the sticky nature of the treat makes it impossible to pronounce “Some more.” The original recipe notes that “Though it tastes like ‘some more,’ one is really enough.” But traditions were made to be broken, right?
One thing is for sure: the prospect of S’mores leaves us hungry for s’more (lots more!) camping adventures!