Camping is not all beautiful sunsets and marshmallows on an open fire. Sometimes things go wrong – embarrassingly so. Still, it’s only a mistake if you make it twice.

Camping isn’t easy. It’s something that gets easier with experience and sometimes you have to know failure to really feel the ultimate high of success – even if that means a soggy sleeping bag, the odd argument, and ultimately sleeping in the car. In order to prevent you making these mistakes yourself, here is our list of camping fails. Consider yourself warned!

1. Packing too little

As the saying going: ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. This is especially true when camping in autumn and winter. It’s easy to take short cuts and hope for the best, however, Mother Nature often has other ideas. Be sure to have layers with you to bulk up when things take a turn or the temperature drops at night.

2. Packing too much

This may seem like an immediate contradiction. Packing is a balancing act between what you need and what you can afford to leave behind. Always look to buy gear and equipment that is lightweight or packs down – especially if you’re going to be carrying everything during the day. When you return from a trip make a note of things that you didn’t use at all and consider leaving it behind next time.

3. Know your layers

Layering is essential for keeping you at the right temperature. While one big coat will keep you warm at night it won’t be much use during the day. A good baselayer will help keep you cool and dry, and is much better than a simple cotton t-shirt. If possible, look to have three multi-purpose layers that you can add and subtract as the conditions change. A good lightweight down jacket is also a great addition to any kit list – you get a whole lot of warmth for very little additional weight.

4. Roughing it

Sleep is important, especially if you’ve got a day of hiking ahead of you. Don’t cut corners with sleep and assume you’ll be fine on nothing but the bare ground. The ground will be cold, hard, and uneven. Don’t be a hero, a good sleeping bag and thermarest or camping mat will make the whole experience a whole lot more enjoyable.

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5. Leave cotton behind

Manufacturers have long since left cotton behind and moved onto synthetic fibres and high-performance natural fibres such as Merino wool. More and more they are becoming standard in outdoor gear meaning you have little excuse to stick with your old cotton t-shirts. Cotton gets wet and stays wet meaning you get colder as a result. Investing may cost a little more but it will last and will perform better in the outdoors.

6. Know your tent

The first time you put up your tent should not be in the dark, in the rain, when you just want to go to sleep. Practice pitching your tent as much as you can before taking it on the road. Make sure you know what all the little ropes on the side do, even if they look pointless they do something. It’ll save you scrutinizing the instructions with only your phone’s torch for help. Also, practice taking it down and getting it back into its pack. It’ll save you plenty of time and frustration in the morning.

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7. Check batteries

There’s nothing worse than going to turn on your headtorch and nothing happening. Check all your equipment and gear is up and running before packing and leaving the house. Especially if it’s been sitting in storage for months and months. Otherwise, you risk packing some extra paperweights.

8. Check the weather

Check the weather right up until you leave and regardless what it says, pack a waterproof. The weather in Ireland is changeable at the best of times, even in the height of summer a shower is never too far away. There’s nothing worse than being cold and damp when you’re outdoors so always prepare for rain by bringing a waterproof jacket and pants and checking your footwear is up to the task.

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9. Pack a portable battery

Camping used to be about getting away from it all and leaving the modern world behind. However, being realistic your smartphone is coming with you. It’s a camera, map, GPS, media player, weatherman, torch and much more all-in-one. Keep your phone running by packing a portable battery to recharge it when needed.

10. Don’t rely on gadgets

That said, don’t be totally reliant on gadgets. There’s no-one worse than the guy who has all the gear but no idea. As good as camping technology is now there’s always a chance that the conditions will get the better of it. Make sure you can read a map and navigate your way home in the case of your GPS failing or your phone battery. Don’t be reliant on your high-tech firelighters, have a more rudimentary back-up if all else fails.

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