Bayou City Outdoors
Kelly Howard is president and founder of Bayou City Outdoors, an outdoor adventure and social networking club that organizes a variety of events for active sports enthusiasts. She initiated the “farmers market rides” weekend biking trips to several farmers markets for shopping and socializing. The groups also organizes visits to restaurants, parks and camping trips in Houston Parks. Kelly explained that packing for a camping trip depends on many factors, including whether you plan to do “car camping” (driving to your site and remaining near your vehicle) or more traditional camping, where urban amenities might not be available. These suggestions assume a weekend trip to an area such as Buffalo Bayou with moderate or limited experience, particularly for those who might not be familiar with the Houston area.
In Texas, tents need a lot of ventilation. Heat is usually a bigger issue than cold, and rainstorms can occur rapidly, so your tent should have a bottom and a rain fly. It never gets so cold that you need more than a three-season tent. In addition, check with local residents about flash flooding issues. Houston is only now correcting many problems in its drainage infrastructure, so any relatively low area might get temporary flooding after a major rainstorm.
For the Houston area, cots are not the most practical and are rarely used at campsites. The better bet is a sleeping bag (50-degree) and a mattress pad such as Thermarest. At most an inflatable air mattress will suffice. Just check for any “no overnight camping” signs for certain areas.
A lamp for the fireplace is nice, but for waling after dark, a flashlight, or even better, a headlamp is often necessary. Of course, bring extra batteries (unless your flashlight has a shakable internal generator). Another possibility is a solar battery charger. There is usually plenty of sunlight to keep for flashlights, cell phones, and other devices going during your outing. If you are car camping, bring a car charger and start your car when necessary. Before selecting a campsite, check the distance to the registration office, nearest parking lot, gas station, etc. Also check for any restrictions or advisories. Remember that in some areas, snakes and alligators might be common and some camp areas do not make a particular effort to notify campers where they might encounter them, especially at night.
Temperatures in Houston can change radically during the day it can be over 70 in the afternoon and under freezing at night. Bring extra blankets shirts, etc and be prepared to adjust to quick changes. A light poncho is easy to carry. Houston is known for short but intense cloudbursts. On the other hand, umbrellas and unnecessary rain gear can be cumbersome. Check the weather report before you leave and keep up with any local alerts or storm warnings.
How do you plan to spend your time at the campsite? Remember to bring your own kayak, mountain bike, binoculars for birdwatching, high boots for wading, fishing or tracking alligators: most locations do not have items for rent. Your cell phone camera might be sufficient to capture those special moments. Otherwise, you could pick up a disposable camera at a pharmacy. As a rule of thumb, be practical. Don’t bring any more than you can carry for one mile.