Camping can either be the most incredible adventure you’ve ever taken or a complete disaster that will haunt you many years into the future. And the difference between the two is preparation.
Planning and preparing your trip is the most crucial part of your trip. After all, once it’s pouring down rain, ten o’clock at night, miles away from civilization, you don’t want to realize your tent isn’t waterproof.
Once you have all your bases covered and are prepared for when things go wrong, then you’ll be ready to take on the wild.
For starters, you’ll want good equipment. So much camping comes down to your equipment, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need everything and the kitchen sink when starting.
For starters, bring the bare minimum for a comfortable night’s stay at a campsite. You can even rent oversized ticket items like tents and sleeping bags to save money until you’re sure camping is suitable for you.
The bare necessities include:
- Tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads
- Food, cookware, and eating utensils
- A light, firewood, firestarter, and lighter
- Knife/Multitool, first aid kit, insect repellant, sunscreen, and medication (as needed)
- Toilet Paper
However, the details of the items you’ll need will depend on the camping trip you’re going on, whether it’s an overnight or weekend tent camping or something far more involved.
The ability to prepare hot meals should not be underestimated when camping out. Not only are hot meals more satisfying and filling, but many can be made with nothing but a campfire kettle, hot water, and a grate over the fire.
However, that depends on how many people are coming and how involved you want to get at mealtime. Check out Self Reliance Outfitters for some of the best cookware to bring camping.
The heart of any campsite is the tent. Preferably you should have one that is waterproof and large enough to hold all the people it needs to, plus some supplies, meaning you’ll want a tent that’s a little larger than the number of people sharing the tent.
For example, if three people share a tent, you’ll want a four-person tent if you want to fit anything else. Moreover, of all the supplies you can keep in the tent to keep safe from the elements, you should not keep food, especially in bear country.
You should have sleeping bags with a good temperature range for the area and time you are camping, plus a sleeping pad for a little extra cushioning and insulation from the cold. The right gear could be even more comfortable than sleeping at home!
You’ll also want some light for your campground as it gets dark fast, and fires don’t cast as much light as you think. Choose a good lantern for your campground for ambient lighting, and bring a flashlight for bathroom trips.
And finally, bring along some entertainment, which is especially important when camping with kids. But you can have all the camping supplies you need and still be bored around a fire and miserable.
You should also prepare some activities in case of rain, such as a pack of cards or other simple games. It goes a long way towards alleviating the disappointment of rain during your first camping trip while also making suitable quiet activities during the night.
Preparing for your trip
You should diligently handle everything from reservations to equipment rental, as the wrong campsite reservation can spiral your trip out of control.
Reserving your campsite
Firstly, for your inaugural camping trip, you’ll want something close to home, with amenities like bathrooms and showers, maybe even a camp kitchen, and some activities that will make everything much more pleasant. If it isn’t working out, there’s no shame in calling it quits and heading home.
Campsites close to amenities are convenient but noisy, so pick one further away from the center of the campground if you want quiet. You’ll also enjoy an improved site with ready access to water, so you don’t have to bring your own. Check and ensure the water is treated, so you don’t have to worry about water-borne illnesses.
State and national parks make great first camping trips and usually enjoy plenty of hiking trails and outdoor activities. Or you can look at nearby private campgrounds that have more amenities than most government-run camps.
Understanding your equipment
Before you head to the middle of nowhere, take your equipment for a spin. Pitch a tent in a garden or yard and practice using your campsite equipment.
Not only will you become more confident in your camping abilities, but you can answer any questions and solve any problems before you’re stuck on a campground with a tent missing two poles that don’t work.
Plan your meals, know how to pitch your tent, and bring all the equipment you’ll need, and you’ll find that camping is an incredible experience that never goes as planned but is thrilling nonetheless.
Once you start, an entire world opens up to you, like RV camping, dispersal camping, backcountry camping, backpacking, and more!