There are lots of reasons as an adult you might decide to head out camping for the first time. Maybe your kids are begging you to go, you love the outdoors but just never got camping on your list, or you just want to get away from it all for a short while. Getting away from the rat race even for a weekend is an excellent way to rejuvenate. If you live somewhere extra scenic, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Camping is an excellent way to take in all that mother nature has to offer. But as a tent camping newbie, it can be a bit daunting to know where to start. Don’t worry, we have you covered with everything you need to prepare for your first tent-camping excursion.
Where to Camp
This tops our list because camping is very popular. What this means is that campsites get booked quickly. Sometimes that means booking months in advance. This is probably something new campers might not realize. If you were hoping to go camping in a week or two, there are first-come, first-served sites. Either way, before you get anything else ready, you’re going to need to know where you plan to camp. There are certainly many beautiful spots all over the country, so have fun choosing!
I’m not going to sugar-coat it, there’s quite a bit of gear you need to ensure a pleasant camping experience. But, the extra packing ahead of time means you can just relax once you arrive. Which isn’t always true for a lot of vacations! Plus, we created this camping checklist which will ensure you don’t leave home without everything you need. So here, we’re going to focus on the big items you’ll need to make sure you have. Once you’ve secured your camping site which will most likely have a community bathroom, running water, and a table, you’ll want to gather the following essentials:
- Tent – If you don’t plan on camping a lot in the future or are unsure if you will, renting or borrowing a tent is a great way to go. Chances are you have a friend or family member who would be more than happy to loan out their tent that’s just taking up space in the garage. Outdoor stores also rent them out for much cheaper than you can buy one. If you’re going alone or with just one other person, a 3-person tent will suffice. For a family of 4, a 6-person tent will give you the extra wiggle room you might want. This way you can also accommodate space for air mattresses and bags.
- Foldable Chairs – Though it’s likely there will be a picnic table on-site, you’ll want extra camping chairs. Even if you don’t camp, you likely already have these on hand. Bring enough to accommodate each person in your camping party.
- Sleeping Bag – You probably already have a sleeping bag, but you’ll want to be sure that it’s one that is suitable for the weather where you’ll be camping. Sleeping bags are rated to withstand varying temperatures. A 3-season bag will give you the best bang for your buck and will ensure that you are comfortable. You can also bring an extra blanket or two just to be safe.
- Sleeping Pad or Air Mattress – If you have an air mattress and have an easy way to blow it up, this can make sleeping while camping more comfortable. However, it won’t give you extra sleeping warmth that a sleeping pad intended for camping can. By using one, you’ll be cozier and warmer.
- Lighting – Lighting is important, especially when you have to make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Have a flashlight (or headlamp), as well as a lantern, will make your camping experience more enjoyable.
- Stove – This is an easy and low-cost way to cook your meals while camping. Choosing a class two-burner propane camp stove is a good place to start. Don’t forget the fuel canisters and a lighter, too.
- Cooler – This is going to hold all of your perishable food for the duration of your camping trip. You’ll want to make sure it’s large enough. Some have better insulation than others, though a basic cooler will work – especially if ice is sold on-site near your campground.
Clothing for Camping
The most important thing to consider when deciding what clothing you’ll need for camping is that you’ll be warm enough. Be sure you know the kind of weather you’ll be camping in so that you can plan accordingly. Though you don’t want to overpack by too much, having a few extra clothing essentials to keep you warm and dry will ensure a comfortable trip. Long underwear, warm moisture-wicking socks plus a rain jacket are a few good extras to have just in case. Refer to our camping checklist to see what other clothing items you should bring.
My favorite part of camping is the food. Gathering around and cooking together just adds to the outdoor experience. Plus, you’ll probably be whipping up some things you don’t normally eat at home so you’ll be looking forward to eating something a little different. There are tons of easy recipes you can look up online that don’t require a lot of prep or dishes. One-pot meals or food you can cook in foil packets over the stove will make it easier. Have easy snacks on hand and don’t forget the s’ mores! Be sure you have the necessary utensils to cook, eat and clean as well.
Staying Safe While Camping
Going camping is generally a safe endeavor especially if you are camping at a campground where many other campers will be. But that doesn’t mean that it comes without risk. And if you plan to go hiking while on your camping trip that is another consideration. Bringing plenty of water, provisions, and proper clothing is a good place to start. Secure food in a plastic tub locked in your car to keep critters at bay. It’s also likely that you won’t have cell service, so having a satellite phone can be very helpful. Phones like Iridium, Globalstar, Inmarsat, and Thuraya work in remote areas where cell phone use is often impossible.
Preparation as a camping newbie is key. Once you are, we guarantee you’ll have a great time camping!