Beaches, dunes, and desert floors offer some amazingly unique experiences for campers, but they also have that one thing you’ll carry with you for days after you come home: sand.
Like the stars in a smog-free sky, grains of sand are countless, small, and significantly more noticeable when a lot are concentrated in one area. Here are 15 tips for camping with sand, compiled to help your trip be only as gritty as you want it to be.
1) Accept that you will be dealing with sand in your clothes, your food, your hair, your most personal areas, your everywhere and everything. Some sand will find a way around even the most solid tips followed religiously. It’s sand.
2) Set up your tent with the door facing downwind. The last thing you want is welcoming a gust of fine particulate matter inside every time you come in or out.
3) Typical stakes don’t stay well in sand. Keep your ropes taut with special sand anchors or improvise with whatever you find that can either sink deep enough or sit heavy enough to hold a line. Create what’s known as a “dead man” by tying your rope to the middle of a stout stick, then burying it horizontally so it won’t easily be dragged out of place.
4) Lay a long-bristled door mat in front of each tent opening, giving visitors a place to stomp out their shoes. Mats of this design catch a lot of grains, hold them against gusts, and can easily be shaken out later.
5) Actually, bring another set of mats so you have one to put inside each entrance, too. Leave your shoes and any obviously sandy items outside. Use the indoor mat as the place to take off and leave items from another layer down.
6) Sand seems to stick to just about everything, but especially wet skin. Baby powderabsorbs moisture, so a good sprinkling of it onto hands, feet, arms, and legs hidden under a clingy, moist layer of grains will dry out the surface and allow you to brush yourself clean. Corn starch does the same.
7) Bring stuff for sweeping: a large broom for the tent, smaller brooms for whisking off bodies, and maybe even a thin-haired brush for tabletops and kitchen surfaces.
8) Keep everything to do with food covered. Put a lid on your pots and pans, allow ingredients to stay in their respective ice chests until you need them, and make a special sand-free area for wet items you aren’t done with (stirring spoons, spatulas, etc.) so they can rest under some sort of shelter between uses.
9) Lay out a fitted bed sheet and hold it in place by stretching the corners upward around coolers or other heavy objects to create a sand-free area where small children can play.
10) Bringing a phone or other device? Of course you are. Put it in a re-sealable clear bag. You’ll still be able to use it through the thin plastic, but no grains will get inside.
11) Consider wearing water shoes as you walk around your campsite. They don’t sink as easily into sand, and they’re easy to shake out.
12) Remember that sandy areas are often windy areas. Brush up on tips for camping in the wind.
13) Wear eye protection, even if it’s just a pair or sensible sunglasses, to keep particles from flying directly into your face and harming your vision.
14) That baby powder you brought with you to get sand off of your body while camping? Save some and use it in the shower when you get home. A good dose applied to your dry hair, then shaken out before a rinse, can significantly help your head to become sand-free. Get as much sand out as you can before getting wet. Once you’re particularly particulate free, start the shampoo.
15) This final tip comes from my wife, who had a single word for anyone considering setting up camp where sand could be a pesky issue: “Don’t.”