A year ago I bought an all-season tent and set a goal of spending at least one night outside each month for one year. I live in Lom, a village surrounded by high mountains and beautiful nature – with a large part covered by the well-known mountain area Jotunheimen. In other words: great camping spots can be found almost anywhere around here!
The center of Lom, photographed a very cold night in January after a very steep hike with a very heavy backpack. I had an awesome view and a nice place for my tent (the following picture), so it was definitely worth it.
In my opinion, you don't have to hike for many hours to have a good time when camping. Just be sure to get well away from artificial lights, find a spot with a great view and you're all set to enjoy a stay at your own 5-billion star hotel.
Summer is obviously the most convenient time to go camping, with warm temperatures, bare ground and easy access to water, but the trips I remember best are all from winter and late autumn. Few things beats cool, crisp air, a dark blue sky filled with stars – and if you're really lucky you might see northern lights – all while being surrounded by snow-covered mountains. Midwinter in Norway don't include a lot of sun, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; it gives the snowy landscape a magical light all day.
Also, when the ground is covered in snow you can take out your sleeping bag and mat without the risk of tearing them up. If the weather allows it you can even sleep under the open sky. Watching the sunrise is also very special after spending the night outside. Put on some warm clothes, make a cup of tea/coffee, make yourself comfortable and take in the view as the rest of the world wakes up.
Some of my tips for having a good time when camping
1. Bring a camping stove so you can heat up water/melt snow quickly. A cup of tea, hot chocolate or coffee before going to bed and in the morning will do you good.
2. A fine trick to avoid freezing your feet off during a cold night: bring a water bottle that withstands hot water (I use a bottle made of lexan) fill it up with hot water, wrap a wool sock around the bottle and put it in your sleeping bag.
3. This one is obvious, but very important: Bring enough clothes. Norway can be cold in winter, in particular December through February. Keywords: wool, down and windproof.
4. This one is also obvious, but just as important: The weather changes quickly here, and up in the mountains the wind can get very strong and the temperature can change drastically during the night. Bring equipment that can take a beating; a durable tent and an insulative sleeping mat is a good place to start. However, there are a lot of tourist lodges in the most popular hiking areas, so it's possible to retreat to a safe and warm house if the weather gets too bad.
5. After carrying a heavy backpack you'll need some energy! My favorite is banana cake with pieces of dark chocolate – it's easy to make, not too messy and tastes delicious combined with fresh air. You can also buy fresh cinnamon buns at the local bakery here – Bakeriet i Lom – which I'm going to write about in another post.
6. Bring a good friend or two! I'm happy that I enjoy camping alone because it means I can do it more often, but bringing friends is always a good thing!
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