The nation's camping community continues to expand, according to research from the camping search and review app The Dyrt. While camping has remained one of the most popular - and economical - ways to appreciate nature and the great outdoors, it can also be daunting. Why not help make your next camping experience as smooth as tent fabric with the following time-saving hacks, tips and tricks?

Tackling a preparation plan

Two different kinds of campers are typically observed in the Raystown Lake Region: tent campers and RV campers. Although the experiences and approach might be quite different, all campers should research the location and familiarize themselves with outdoor camping regulations.

"The seven principles of 'Leave No Trace' are one way campers can become acquainted with outdoor camping regulations," says Park Ranger Jenna Conner. “There's a reason why the first rule of outdoor ethics is ‘Plan Ahead and Prepare.’”

Having a strategy and great preparation guide for a trip can help campers have a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors while reducing environmental damage, Conner says. Inadequate preparation, however, can result in disgruntled campers and the ruin of natural and cultural resources. Visit Leave No Trace to learn more about proper planning and camping regulations.

Trough Creek State Park
Becoming a packing pro

When it comes to packing for camping, efficiency is critical to making the most of limited space. Here are some packing techniques and tips:

  • Make a checklist and cross off items while packing to ensure nothing is forgotten.
  • Purchase firewood locally. Any firewood transported and brought from home should be inspected first for tree-killing forest pests. This helps inhibit the spread.
  • Plan simple dinner meals before departing.
  • Prep ahead of time or make freezer-bag meals, which can be cooked or reheated on a camping stove or fire.
  • Swap large goods with smaller ones, such as soft-shell tortillas for bread.
  • Consider choosing items that do double duty. For example, a frisbee can make a great bowl or plate.
  • Buy stackable and packable dinnerware.
View from Marina View Lodge
Camping in comfort

When at Raystown, campers may be exposed to the elements such as rain, wind, sun and temperature fluctuations. Most outdoor experts recommend getting waterproof spray or a weather-proof tent. For campers on a tight budget, below is a trick to save some money:

“I’d recommend two tarps,” Conner says. “One goes under the tent before setting up, and the other goes above like a make-shift roof.”  This should create a dry area not only for the tent but for the campsite.

Meadow Loop RV
Avoid campsite critter crashing

One common complaint campers have is wildlife disturbance from bears, raccoons and skunks.

“Never leave food or trash unattended near your campsite,” advises Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Matt Price.

One way to have a peaceful trip is to try the pulley method, Price recommends. All that is required is 50 feet of rope and a sturdy bag for garbage or food, if there is no place to store it. Toss it over the tree limb (this may take a few tries), then hoist the bag 10 to 15 feet high so a standing bear can’t reach it. Make sure it’s at least four feet out from the trunk or pole. Lastly, tie the other end of the rope to a tree trunk to secure it.

Camping like a champ may require a few tries to achieve perfection. Whether it's tackling a preparation plan, becoming a packing pro, striving to camp in comfort or avoid campsite critter crashing, giving these camping tips, tricks or hacks a try on a future trip may transform a stressful camping experience into a rewarding one.