I learned a few things last summer about camping here in Montana.

Before I moved here to Billings I had only camped in a 'resort setting.' I can't think of what to call it other than it wasn't like how we've been camping here. We camped in Lake Chelan in Washington but it was on the lake, in town and across the street from condos, ice cream shops and clothing boutiques. We were "camping" but not really. The only thing that made it camping was the tent! I showered daily. NOT camping lol

You can imagine the lessons learned after a few trips here in the Big Sky state. Agree or disagree... But all I know is these worked for me and I will be following these starting here in a few weeks.

First Commandment - Thou shalt pack multiple clothes.
The weather here changes every five minutes and you don't want to be caught in a storm with just some Nike shorts and a North Face t-shirt.

Second Commandment - Thou shalt not use cots.
The cold Montana nights.. especially at higher elevations... don't go around your tent. If you sleep on a cot that cold air goes right up underneath you and makes it impossible to get warm. Even in a 0-degree sleeping bag with a million blankets. Trust me on this one.

Third Commandment - Thou shalt bring easy food to prepare.
Alright, so I wasn't trying to cook a 5-star meal or anything but meals with multiple components can be a little tough to cook, even the nicest of camping cookers. Plus, the cooler doesn't hold a whole dang lot.

Fourth Commandment - Thou shalt bring bear spray.
And I mean the good stuff. I went camping in the Beartooths last summer and there were no 'camp sights' or facilities. And also no other people. There was barely a road where we were so our chances of running into a furry friend were real high.

Fifth Commandment -  Thou shalt bring a gun.
For basically the same reasons as the fourth commandment. You just never know!

Sixth Commandment - Thou shalt camp whenever possible!
Our state is gorgeous and especially the few hour radius surrounding Billings. We have to basically hibernate in the Winter so get out there in nature and in the sun as often as you can!

Seventh Commandment - Thou shalt keep the campsite holy.
Our gorgeous camping sites as well as the 'off-roads' are the what make camping so fun and it wouldn't feel so fun and welcoming if everyone ruined them. So, pick up your trash, put out your fires and leave it just as good as you found it (or better).

Eighth Commandment - Thou shalt share your location.
Whether you are heading five minutes away to a camp sight with 100 people or you are heading to the wilderness by East Rose Bud Lake alone, you should always let people know where you are going. Even if you are venturing with a spouse or friend, other people should know your location, just in case.

Ninth Commandment - Thou shalt arrive before dusk.
There is nothing worse than getting your site set up and trying to pitch a tent in the dark. I'd rather sleep in the car than drive for hours and then try and put everything together in the pitch black!

Tenth Commandment - Though shalt turn off the phone.
Get out there. Re-set. Relax. Your phone doesn't have to be out when you're outside. Unplug and unwind. You'll be glad you did.