No matter how much you like your fast city life, the desire to escape the city—to camp outdoors can hold onto your mind anytime. To prepare for your camping trip, you will need some experience or a complete camping guide. And if you are new to camping, don’t worry! We’re here to help. Read on for a complete camping guide to help you get started.
First, you will need an experienced camper to guide you. You can find these experienced people giving classes at REI. Furthermore, if you’re fortunate enough to know someone with a campsite reservation and a carport loaded with camping gear to share, grab all the camping gear mentioned in our essentials checklist.
You can also prepare all this yourself; you need some basic camping gear and decide your camp location. If it is your first car camping experience, start with a short overnight trip and keep it to basics:
1. To avoid spending too much money, rent or borrow the camping gear.
2. Bring proper clothes for rainy and cold weather conditions.
3. To satisfy your appetite, bring a lot of food.
4. Don’t go too far from your home to keep your alternatives open in case of any emergency.
5. Delay your campout if the weather forecast predicts bad weather.
6. Prepare an emergency kit to be ready for the unexpected. Always carry a communication device such as a handheld CB radio and a satellite navigation device that don’t require mobile reception to work.
Essential Camping Gear
Outdoor camping is like staying in a primitive cabin without a cabin itself. Therefore, apart from your tent, pack your stuff as if you’re going to a place where there will be almost no furnishings, no electric power, no oven or fridge, and the pantries are exposed. In a developed campsite you will find running water and a community toilet not far from your camping location. Typically, most campsites only have a table (if not, you’ll need to carry one), a car parking spot, and a place to set up your tent.
If you want to purchase your camping gear, here are a couple of tips to help you choose what to buy:
If you don’t have a small budget, then go for a larger tent. For couples, a 3-person tent is best as it gives them additional breathing room. Most families will have the best experience in a 6 person tent. For example, if you are a family of four people, you should buy a 6-person tent for maximum comfort.
Likewise, you should also check the tent’s height if you need a tent in which you can stand up. With a vestibule, you can leave your muddy shoes outside, and with two entrances, you won’t need to climb over your fellow sleeping campers for your late-night bathroom breaks.
While choosing a sleeping bag, check its temperature rating. In case you plan to camp in normal weather conditions, a summer sleeping bag is likely all you’ll require; however, a 3-season bag will give you more security for unpredictable weather conditions. In case you’re generally cold (or consistently hot), adjust accordingly. Also, you don’t need to buy a super-cozy mummy bag that hikers usually use, when a rectangular outdoor sleeping bag gives your body more space to move.
A decent sleeping pad resembles the mattress on a bed. However, it additionally has insulation technology to keep you from losing your body heat on the cold floor. Large inflatable mattresses, the ones you use for your overnight guests at home, may look very tempting; however, the absence of insulation technology will probably leave you feeling cold. Check specs while choosing a sleeping pad; the thicker, longer or wider, and the ones with higher insulation values (known as the R-value) — will be more warm and comfy.
Lighting at night time
Campgrounds don’t have lights, so you need to bring your own. A torch or flashlight is fine, but with a headlamp, you can free up your hands for camping chores. You can also light a campfire, however, watch out for the fire restrictions.
A good quality two-burner propane camping stove will work. You won’t be spending a lot of money, and at the same time, you can prepare breakfast and tea. Bring a couple of fuel canisters and a lighter, and fire it up at home once to make sure that you know how it functions.
You may have one at home, and it will work just fine. The only thing you need to do is to make sure that your cooler has enough space for your transitory food and a couple of cold ones with enough ice to keep them from getting warm and spoilt. Some upgraded coolers come with insulation technology, which makes ice last significantly longer; however, you pay more for them.
Pots, plates, cups, spoons, and fork
Pack all things essential for food preparation and its consumption. Also, except if you intend to take your dirty dishes home, you’ll need a scrubber, dish soap, a towel, and two small washtubs (one for your dirty dishes and one for clean).
Foldable camping chairs
They are optional, but your evening will be more pleasant and enjoyable if you have something to sit on and relax comfortably. A hammock is good for afternoon naps.
When you go camping trips, it is normal to get dirty, so wear clothes that look grimy. Cotton is typically a no-no as wet cotton can make you cold and hopeless, even in a mild climate. Make sure to bring a warm coat, and in addition to that, bring long underwear, gloves, a beanie, warm socks for night sleep, and a raincoat for unexpected rain. Also, pack a few pairs of shoes suitable for camping and slip-on for late-night bathroom breaks.
Don’t forget to take your prescribed medicines and hygiene items with you. Pack some bandages too with your first aid kit. Also, bring sunscreen, insect spray, soap, toilet paper, and a small towel. Hand sanitizer also comes in handy when there is a water shortage. If you have allergies or sensitive skin you should definitely take extra precautions while camping. Properly apply and layer your sunscreen and consider using hand sanitizing wipes with natural ingredients instead of regular ones to minimize the potential health risks.
Regardless of whether you know how to cook or not, make a basic meal plan. It can be as simple as having supper out on the drive to camp, preparing breakfast, and having lunch before breaking camp the following day. You can go with boxed or canned courses, side dishes, or fresh food, or a combo of all. Make sure to pack a lot of snacks and tea or coffee. If you cannot do without coffee or tea, then your options range from instant coffee and tea bags to a burner percolator or kettle.
From national parks to RV stops, there are uncountable options. You should make your reservations in advance as camping is a popular activity. Private campsites can be found on many online websites, or you can do a Google Maps search.
Another alternative is campsites that are open on a first-come, first-served premise. Booking isn’t required for such campsites, but it is smart to check online the best time to catch the right spot.
There are other possibilities, but to avoid any discomfort and inconvenience, choose developed campsites with running water and community toilets near them.