Every morning seems to start with the best intentions: Get ready quick and beat everyone else out of camp. You use the bathroom, get dressed, and eat breakfast as quickly as you can...and somehow it’s been two hours since the alarm went off.
Fast getaways are camping’s White Whale, it’s El Dorado, it’s beautiful girl at the bar that actually gives you her phone number. Somehow they always seem to elude you. What’s more, if you need to pack up camp, it can take even longer.
So after dozens of aggravating mornings of stumbling out of the gate, we developed a couple strategies to make that quick morning exit.
1) A Hearty Cold Breakfast
It’s the toughest pill to swallow, but you have to forget about the idyllic Bob Ross moment of enjoying bacon and eggs nestled among the mountains. My wife used to get all Pintrest-y about it: reheating homemade egg & sausage burritos over hot coals. Nine hours later, we’d finally be ready to leave camp.
Our advice is the same as with snacking on the trail: high fiber, high protein. Your easiest option is a big bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats (or any store-brand version of it), a banana, and a hard boiled egg or two if you wanna get fancy. Eating before you leave for the trailhead gives your body a chance to start absorbing the energy prior to starting your hike, the fiber and protein will slow digestion and sustain you longer on the trail, and you’re done eating before Bob Ross’ fire is hot.
2) Layout Your Clothes The Night Before
Wait, what? “This is camping, not a job interview.” Unfortunately, some parks can be more like a rat race for parking instead of a quiet venture into the wilderness. Whether you like it or not, you’re among the 325 million visitors to the National Park system. Saving a few minutes could be the difference between easily finding a parking space and finding out how much patience you really packed. Laying out your clothes is an easy way to expedite your morning routine.
3) No One Cares What You Look Like
One of the great things about the wilderness is that there is no one around to judge your appearance. You have dorky hiking pants? Great! You’re hair is a cow-licked mess? No problem! Your man’s beard looks like pubes when it grows out? Totally fine!
Skip the morning shower (if available) and mustache trim. Not only would this add a ton of time, but also makes no sense. You’re about to be a sweaty mess slathered in sunscreen and bug spray. Wash your face, brush your teeth, and throw on a hat. If you’re heading to a trailhead with developed restrooms, you can even do this step after you’ve secured a parking space.
4) Thermos Hot Water Overnight for Coffee
Now if you think that we would deign suggest to go without coffee, you’re insane. We would recommended, however, that you switch to instant coffee. Here’s the trick: you heat up your water the night before and fill it in a Thermos. The water will still be hot enough to make your coffee when you wake up. We know that it may not be the best java you’ll ever have, but did you know instant coffee has a smaller environmental impact? You get caffeine and help the planet. That, my friend, is winning.
As a side note, since caffeine is a diuretic, we do not recommend drinking coffee in hot climates if you’re planning on a lot of physical exertion. In cooler weather, however, having a cup of joe can improve muscle performance and make difficult hikes a little easier.
5) Pre-Pack Your Day Pack
You already know that you’re going to need water and snacks while you’re on the trail the next day, so fill up CamelBak, backpack, or whatever you’re planning on using before you go to bed. Not only will your head be clearer and calmer since you’re not trying to pack quickly, but it’s one less thing you need to do in the morning. Just remember to store your pack somewhere safe if you’re in bear country.
6) Set an Early Alarm and Actually Get Up When it Goes Off
Waking up at 6am is difficult when you have to get up for work, so imagine how difficult it is when you’re on vacation and there’s nothing forcing you to actually get out of bed. Not to mention it’s cold outside and there’s no hot water in the campground bathrooms. So when everything in your body is telling you to snooze and keep sleeping, why is it necessary to start your day? Because more people visited the Grand Canyon in 2016 than flew to Honolulu, more people when to the Grand Tetons than Maui, and more people went to Death Valley than to Kaua’i.
The National Parks are more popular than Hawaii, so do yourself a favor and get out of that sleeping bag.