5 Tips for a Wheelchair-Friendly Camping Trip

Two people in wheelchairs enjoying campfire at summer night. View to wheelchairs wheels during nighttime at fireplace

For many people, early fall is the perfect time for a camping trip. The weather isn’t too hot or too cold, the leaves are beginning to change color, and it’s the perfect excuse to spend time with your loved ones as the summer winds down (or to enjoy some peace and quiet on your own). It’s always a good idea to make a checklist for supplies before you go camping, especially as a wheelchair user. Here are a few ways to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch so you can focus on having fun!

1. Choose a spacious tent that includes room for an entryway.

A comfortable tent can make or break a camping trip. If you’re not well-rested and protected from the elements, it can put a damper on your whole experience! A large tent like the Rocky Mountain 5 Plus from Coleman provides plenty of space to move around and even includes a living area where you can store your wheelchair during the night. It is also important to note whether the entryway to the tent itself is flat or raised, as a flat entryway will make entering and leaving the tent much easier.

2. Consider a cot as opposed to a sleeping bag.

Laying in a sleeping bag on the hard surface of the ground is not comfortable for anyone. Not to mention, it can be especially unpleasant for wheelchair users trying to transfer from their chair. Bringing along a cot instead might be a gamechanger for campers of all abilities. They are more comfortable to lay on than the solid, cold ground. You can even take it to the next level and use a sleeping pad on top of your cot if you’re looking for a softer surface. Transferring from a wheelchair to a cot may be easier for some as well since the cot is closer to the height level of a chair than the ground.

3. Don’t forget to make a hygiene plan!

Having a bathroom or shower that is truly accessible can feel like a roll of the dice, even if you’re staying at a campground that claims its facilities are wheelchair-friendly. Depending on how long your camping trip is, you may want to pack a privacy tent, ground-based portable shower, and a toilet option such as a foldable commode. If your campsite does advertise accessible shower stalls, it may be a good idea to pack a portable shower chair just in case.

4. Swap out your usual tires with a sturdy wheel that can conquer uneven terrain.

Being among nature is the biggest perk of camping but that also means being faced with traveling on a surface that could potentially be rocky, muddy, or slick. Before you get to your campsite, make sure that the tires on your wheelchair will allow you to travel safely on rough terrain. Heavy-duty wheels are designed to take on extra strain and are less likely to puncture easily, meaning you can roam through your campsite with confidence and ease. Accessories like the FreeWheel® can also come in handy. The FreeWheel attaches to the wheelchair footrest, turning your chair into a “three-wheel all-terrain vehicle.”

5. Safety first! Prepare for the unexpected.

This tip is the most popular one for campers of all abilities. Even if you are staying at a supervised campsite, you never know what the elements or Mother Nature will throw your way. Bring extra clothing and blankets, and even if the forecast is warm and sunny, make sure you have some protection in the event of rain like a poncho or waterproof clothing. Last but not least, don’t forget the sunscreen! It may not be summer anymore, but you could still risk a sunburn if you spend the day outdoors.

Whether you’re headed to an out-of-state national park or to your local campground, a wheelchair accessible vehicle from MobilityWorks can help get you there safely without compromising on cargo space for your camping gear!

MobilityWorks does not sponsor or endorse any products mentioned in this article. 

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