I’ve spent a lifetime camping across the United States with my parents and sister, and I married a man who loves to camp. I’ve taken showers with spiders and have expertly dried off while standing on top of my shoes. I’ve blown out my hair with the wall mounted hand dryer. I’ve used earplugs to drown out the nighttime swells of katydids and the campers next door who keep breaking out into song and laughter. I have my ways of adjusting to all the major and minor inconveniences of camping, but camp damp is too much for me. It’s all I can think about. Camp damp!
I made up this phrase during our most recent 3-day camping weekend with my sister and brother-in-law. It’s this pervasive “cold sweat” that dews all over everything, soggying up all forms of paper and fabric. Camp damp! I repeated the phrase all weekend like a Polly who wanted a cracker. It’s the only part of camping I cannot abide.
My sister tells me I just need to embrace it and forget about it, but I can’t. Every 10 minutes I’m standing by the fire again to rotisserate and re-dry all my wet places. Nighttime is the worst. The sleeping bag’s once silky lining is now a wet skin. I’ve tried wrapping my sleeping bag in a plastic tablecloth hoping to seal in some freshness, but it too succumbs to camp damp.
I came home from this past weekend determined to solve this problem. I went to the computer to look up hydrophobic materials that naturally do not absorb water, and I found it - polyethylene terephthalate. It comes in various thicknesses and goes by the common name of polar fleece. My solution to camp damp. On my next camping trip, I’m simply going to swaddle in fleece. The only problem is that it’s terribly flammable, so my days of rotating on the spit are over.