Is Camping Worth The Hassle?
Here in New Zealand, the hottest days of summer are upon us. With many a warm weekend in our futures before the season ends, it’s time to pose this generations-old question: is camping really worth it?
Sure, the idea of it is nice. Communing with nature. Spending time in close quarters with people you love. Or rather, people you thought you loved, until you spent three sleepless nights in a clammy, leaking tent with them, listening to them snore and thinking of imaginative ways they could meet their demise that would look like an accident. But I digress.
What is it about camping that has us continuing to forgo all our modern creature comforts, to return as tourists to the tent-dwelling lifestyle of our ancestors? It turns out, scientists around the world have been asking themselves the same question. Many recent studies have attempted to measure what it is exactly that’s so good for us about being in nature, and why it’s so important to make it a regular part of our lives.
The Three Day Effect
There are no two ways about it, camping requires a lot of planning and organisation only to then spend a long weekend searching for insect repellent you now cannot find, and showering in a communal bathroom of a dubious standard. But David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist from the University of Utah, is here to tell you it’s worth it.
Strayer has documented a phenomenon he calls “The Three Day Effect”. Basically, his research shows that our brains operate much better after spending three days decompressing in nature. Having a break from all the commuting and Instagram scrolling gives our pre-frontal cortex (the decision-making, problem-solving part of the brain) a chance to have a rest from the stressors of modern living like you would rest a muscle in between sets at the gym. Strayer’s studies showed participants performing 50% better at problem-solving tasks after three days of hiking in the wilderness.
Yes, that’s all very well I hear you say, but remember? The NASA level planning and organisation that’s required! The dodgy campsite bathrooms! Fear not, MISA is here to help. Our rPET Mesh Bags are super handy when packing for your outdoor adventure – the mesh material gives you a storage option that lets you see what you’ve packed (and what you, unfortunately, haven’t).
The Mesh rPET Bag also makes an excellent, fast-drying shower caddy – the handy loop allows you to hang your bag on a hook or the showerhead, so you never have to put your shampoo on the questionable shower floor. Just, for the love of all that is holy, make sure you wear jandals.
Face Brush https://www.clarisonic.com/
Face Cloth https://shopnz.norwexbiz.nz/
Here in NZ, where you can’t really drive east or west that far before hitting the ocean, camping is often synonymous with beach time. But for those of us who would much rather lounge poolside with a frosty Mojito, it may seem the cons outweigh the pros. Never mind the mosquitoes, the wind, the unpredictable shade, and/or people lying next to you playing Pitbull too loudly on a tinny i-speaker. Let’s talk SAND, friends. The stuff that somehow works its way all through your car, every nook and cranny of your house and into shoes you swear you never even brought to the beach.
Before you give it all up as a bad job, you should know there are some very easy solutions to help make the seaside time more palatable for even the most beachophobic among us. At the frontlines of combatting the dreaded sand, a mesh bag, (like, ahem, the MISA rPET Mesh Bag, par example) is a super handy beach accessory. Residual sand falls right through when you give it a shake, so you’re not finding it all in the bottom of your bag later. For like, weeks.
The old fitted sheet trick also works like a charm – bring one with you and at each corner place a sturdy item – the chilly bin, your bag, your two year old (just kidding, two-year-olds are notoriously bad at this). This gives you a clean area with raised sides, protecting the things placed within from sandmageddon.
But why bother? I hear you ask/sigh/wail. Well, it turns out being at the beach is actually really good for the human body. The action of pounding surf on the seashore creates negative ions, free-floating particles in the air that, when absorbed by our bodies, stimulate an increase in serotonin (the “happy” brain chemical). In some cases, this mood alteration can be as effective as taking an antidepressant, as one Columbia University Study recently showed.
Reusable Drink Bottle https://www.mirabrands.com/
An Appetite For The Outdoors
If your idea of dining al fresco is more patio brunch with bottomless mimosas than a coin-operated BBQ with endless mosquitos, the idea of having to organise, cook and eat every meal outside may be enough to make you abandon the entire camping endeavour. Possibly for life.
However, if you are a fan of your aforementioned life, eating in the great outdoors may be a great way to prolong it, according to University of Sunderland Clinical Exercise Psychologist Dr Paul Innerd. Innerd suggests that eating outside can instantly lower our cortisol levels (elevated levels of Cortisol have been linked to depression, anxiety and heart conditions). This is especially true if we are eating in the company of family and friends.
Eating in a group setting rather than alone can also encourage us to make healthier food choices, says Innerd. Not only this, but there is some evidence to suggest that eating alone can put a person at an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
So how to make sure that the benefits of campsite dining outweigh the many pain points (bugs, hassle, potential food poisoning…)?
Obviously at MISA, we know a lot about keeping things fresh. Yes, pun intended. Our rPET Everything Bag isn’t just as fly as heck, the breathable recycled material actually works to keep fresh produce fresher and crisper for longer. This is especially helpful if you’re at a campsite where your only source of refrigeration is a chilly bin (aka cooler).
If you do decide to stay at a campsite without any kitchen or fridge facilities, a good way to manage that efficiently is to bring two coolers, one larger and one smaller. Each day, take only the food you need for the day out of the large cooler and put it in the smaller one. That way, the large cooler gets opened only once per day and stays cold for longer.
Speaking of cool, our rPet Mesh Bag is also super handy in the campsite kitchen if you prefer your food bug-free. It can be used to cover plates or food while you finish preparing your meal, keeping insects out of your hard-earned mouthfuls, without letting hot food get soggy.
Portable Butane Stove https://campmaster.co.nz/
Cutting Board https:https://www.epicureancs.com/about/
Whether you’re a nature nut or a confirmed city slicker, camping offers a bounty of health and wellness benefits for those who brave the elements. If you choose to answer the call of the wild this summer, we at MISA Collective hope our handy (and stylin’) little bags make it easier to for you to embrace the great outdoors.
Birch Hill, Central Hawkes Bay
nationalgeographic.com “Call to the Wild: This is Your Brain on Nature” by Florence Williams, January 2016
webmd.com “Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes” By Denise Mann, May 6, 2002
sunderland.ac.uk “Why eating outdoors wards off disease and illness” July 2016
Time Magazine (time.com) – “Why Eating Alone May Be Bad for You”
By Amanda McMillan, October 25, 2017