Date Published: 2023/10/25

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Top Tips for Setting Up Camp in the Dark

Under a spectacular night sky full of stars, a camper is set up in the dark, a picnic table is holding the makings for a late night meal.

Setting up your RV can take time and requires attention to detail. Ideally, you’ll want to arrive at the campsite during the day so you have enough light to set up, unpack and secure your site. But sometimes you might pull in after dark or decide to camp in the winter during short daylight hours. While setting up camp in the dark makes the task more challenging, it is possible. Implement a few tips that help you practise camping etiquette and improve the efficiency and safety of your setup process.

Prioritize Packing

Despite your good intentions to arrive in the daylight, be prepared and pack like you’ll arrive at your campsite after dark. This way, all your essential gear is at the top of the pile. You won’t have to waste valuable time looking for flashlights, tools, food, and bedding. And you can easily access everything you need for setup in the dark. 

Focus on Essentials

Spend a few minutes doing only the essentials. For instance, park your RV or pitch your tent, drop the stabilizers, pull out the slides, hook up your electricity and water, feed the kids, and walk the dog. Non-essential or noisy chores like unwinding the awning or setting up the grill can wait for daylight tomorrow. 

Use the Right Lights

While you want to ensure you can see well as you tackle essential setup chores at night, turn off bright lights. You can only see with your parking lights, and your neighbours can rest peacefully without your high beams illuminating their campsites. 

Fortunately, three lighting options help you avoid accidents and help you set up quickly. Maximise these lights when you pack them and put extra batteries on top of your gear where they’re accessible as soon as you park. 

  • Attach Velcro to different areas of your rig so you can hang motion detector lights and see as you back in and set up camp after dark. 
  • Use red light flashlights. Red light doesn’t attract bugs, making nighttime setup more comfortable. And unlike white light, red light won’t ruin your night vision. 
  • Buy a headlamp. It frees your hands so you can unpack quicker and see clearly as you work.

Assign Tasks

Before you arrive at the campsite, give your family members age-appropriate tasks. Each person can work independently to hook up the water, turn on the electricity, pull out the slides, unpack the bedding, and arrange cooking supplies. This strategy helps you complete setup efficiently even in the dark. 

Limit Noise

Of course, you will make some noise as you settle your rig. However, try to respect your neighbors by limiting noise. If possible, rely on cell phones instead of yelling directions back and forth to your family members. You can also try to close doors and hatches gently and avoid banging tools, pots and pans.

Protect Young Children

Your young children might be eager to jump out and help. But avoid accidents when you keep them buckled in the vehicle until your RV is set up. Then, they can help with age-appropriate tasks, eat dinner or go to bed. 

Remain Cheerful

It’s easy to feel grouchy if you arrive late to your campsite. Your family members might feel hungry and tired, too. But try to stay cheerful. Otherwise, you could spend the evening feeling miserable and start the trip off on the wrong foot. 

Stay Close to Camp

Rather than explore your surroundings in the dark, stick close to your RV or tent. Otherwise, you might get lost in the dark, trip over tree roots or encounter wild animals. Save the exploring for the daytime to stay safe. 

Light the Campfire 

Relax and settle into your campsite as you sit next to a campfire. But if you’re exhausted, feel free to skip this step and go to bed. 

Eat a Simple Meal

Save the grilling and complex meals for another day. Tonight, roast some hot dogs, make a sandwich or assemble nachos. You can also dig into your fridge or cooler and eat prepared dishes like burritos, yogurt parfaits or pasta salad. 

Go to Bed 

Since it’s already late, give yourself permission to rest. Don’t tackle challenging chores or take unnecessary risks when you’re tired. After all, you can always finish setting up in the morning when you’re rested and can see what you’re doing. 

Enjoy Camping All Day

Even when you arrive at your campsite after dark, you can get settled and stay safe. Follow these tips for setting up camp in the dark. For more protection, contact Orbit Insurance Services for an RV insurance quote. Then, enjoy camping all day.