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Camping

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Your Next Camping Trip

Camping has grown in popularity as North American campsites now attract over 70 million people to them each year. Though there are several different types of camping, the most popular is still sleeping in a tent under the stars. People go camping for many reasons: to unplug from technology, strengthen relationships, learn new skills, and enjoy nature. Camping provides you with unlimited ways to have fun.

We want you to be able to plan an unforgettable camping trip while also staying safe. In this article, we’ll give you the information you need to find your perfect camping spot, what you need to consider before you go, and everything you’ll need to bring to make your camping trip the highlight of your year. 

Finding the Best Places for Camping

Not all camping spots are created equal, so it’s important to do your research. To secure your preferred location, you’ll want to start scouting them out well in advance. A few of our favorite ways to find the best camping spots is to:

  1. Talk to your friends – A simple Facebook post asking for friends’ recommended spots will likely be all you need to find the perfect one for your family. Most people are more than happy to share their awesome experiences (as well as places to avoid) and give you all their tips.
  2. Determine your general ideal location – Chances are you have a certain area you’re hoping to visit. If not, consider the type of setting you want (beach, lake, forest, desert, etc.) Also think about how far you are willing to drive. Once you’ve nailed that down, you can begin looking for campsites in the vicinity.
  3. Finalize the type of camping you’ll be doing – Do you plan to tent camp, take an RV or rent a cabin? These are all great camping choices so think about what is the best fit for your family. And if you plan to rent an RV, make sure you look into that in advance as well. 
  4. Secure your campsiteRecreation.gov is a great resource for finding campsite gems across the U.S. Here you can find reviews, prices, facility information and booking instructions. Once you’re ready you can secure your reservation there as well. Campsites often fill up fast in the summer months, so be sure to start your search well in advance.

We’ve also listed a few of our favorite camping spots at the end of this article, so be sure to check those out as well. 

Pre-Camping: Know Before You Go

It is imperative that you do your research before you go off on your camping adventure. It’s a recipe for disaster if you try to figure out where you’re going, what amenities are (or are not) available, and what activities you can do after you’ve already left home. Not only will your trip go smoothly if you nail all this down ahead of time and have a plan, but you’ll also avoid some hiccups that could ultimately ruin your trip. 

  1. One of the best ways to do your homework is to heavily research the area where you’ll be staying. It’s also wise to talk to friends who’ve already been there so they can give you the inside scoop. And if you don’t know anyone who’s been, look for forums where you can leave your questions, or there may just be a YouTube channel that gives you all the details you’ll need.

  2. Beyond that, you want to start packing well in advance. If you’re leaving on Saturday morning and trying to hustle to get it all together on Friday night after work, it’s highly likely you’re going to forget something. And you’ll likely get a late start leaving town because you’ll inevitably be making a store run trying to fill in the gaps you’ve notice in your packing list.

  3. Ah yes the packing list. Print one (see ours below) or print several and then amend it for your and your family’s exact needs. For example, you won’t find “diapers” on a camping checklist, but if you’re bringing your baby along, obviously this is important to bring! We cannot recommend enough having a packing list that you can utilize while you’re gathering everything you need…at least a week in advance!

Once you’ve determined the type of camping you’ll be doing you’ll want to start gathering the basics you’ll need. Then be sure you’re thinking outside the box, as well, because there are a lot of little things every camper needs that they are likely to forget.

CAMPING CHECKLIST - BASIC

Camping Necessities: Beyond the Basics

You already know you’ll need a tent, sleeping bags, lanterns, bug spray…the basics, right? (And if you aren’t sure, we recommend you read this article first.) What even the most novice camper would remember to bring. But beyond that, there are a lot of items that campers forget are necessary. Below are some of the crucial items you’ll need on every camping trip – we don’t want you to realize too late that you don’t have everything you need.

RELATED: Tent Camping for Beginners

  1. Satellite Phone – A satellite phone while camping is key for safety. Below we’ll go in depth for why it’s so important that you never go on a camping trip without one.
  2. Batteries – So you have your flashlights and other electronics ready to roll right? Make sure you bring spare batteries for whatever it is you plan to bring. We also recommend looking into a portable charger that you can rely on when you need to charge up devices as well.
  3. First Aid Kit – Maybe this is a no brainer, but I think for a lot of families, it’s not. Or at least, they consider it and then think “Nah, we won’t need that.” But getting scrapes, bruises and burns is really not that uncommon when you’re out in the wilderness – especially since you’ll likely be going for hikes and swims, as well. You DO NOT want to end up a in a situation where you’re wishing you had a first aid kit, but don’t. There are lots of options perfect for all of your outdoor adventures.
  4. Portable Jump Starter – If you’re noticing an “emergency” pattern here, you’d be correct. So often people don’t account for situations like this, when it really should be forefront in their mind. A portable jump starter will ensure you don’t end up in the middle of a nowhere with a car that won’t start. Can you imagine how much this happening could throw a wrench in your plans or become a dangerous situation? Take the jump starter so you’ll avoid a very sticky situation.
  5. Trash Bags – Campers go through A LOT of trash. And it’s likely you’ll be in a spot where there aren’t trash cans close by. Though you can always burn any paper trash that you might have in your campfire, you won’t be able to do this with everything. Trash can then be driven to nearby trashcans, stored in bear-resistant containers, or stored temporarily in your locked vehicle.
  6. Paper Towels – People new to camping often forget little things like this because they are likely used to staying in hotels. Paper towels come in incredibly handy and you will definitely be kicking yourself if you leave them behind.
  7. Duct Tape – This is likely one that you’d forget if we weren’t telling you to bring it. Duct take has an array of uses, in fact, Reserve America lists 15 in this article. From covering that hiking blister to marking a trail so you don’t get lost (be sure to peel them off on your way back), there are more uses than you’d imagine.
  8. Firewood – Depending on the campsite you’re headed to, you may be able to purchase firewood when you arrive. However, you don’t want to assume this is the case. Be sure to visit the website of the campground you’re off to in order to find out if it’s available on-site. If it’s not, you can easily get some from a local hardware store or gas station. You will need to purchase several bundles to ensure you can build all the fires you’ll need for the duration of your trip.
  9. Fire Starting Kit – You may think you’re good to go with firewood and a book of matches, but you may be without fire if this is all you have. Starting campfires is tougher than you might think and a good way to avoid the challenges you might face is to bring along a Firestarter kit (you’ll need a new kit for each fire). Here are some good options.
  10. Multi-tool with Pocket-Knife – This will come in handy more than you can imagine. You don’t want to be stuck on a camping trip without one of these helpful gadgets. Multi-tool pocket knives offer a range of blades and accessories – we recommend deluxe models that ensure you have access to anything you may need. Leatherman is a great brand to check out. 

Lastly, we know water is an obvious one, but often people don’t bring enough of it. You don’t ever want to find yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough water for the length of your stay and you always need extra in case of an emergency as well. On top of that, you need to account for any water you may use to clean yourself off or clean up dirty dishes. Small Car Camp suggests bringing 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and an ADDITIONAL gallon of water per person per day for other water needs (or if an emergency arises). And if you’re bringing along Fido – make sure you account for your faithful friend, as well.  

The Best Satellite Devices to Take on a Camping Trip

Whether it’s a lifeline for an emergency, the ability to call your family while you’re away, or to keep your business afloat even while you unplug, the two devices below will give you exactly what you need. 

Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone front

Iridium 9555:
sATELLITE PONE

The Iridium 9555 is the ultimate go-to satellite phone for all campers. If you are looking for a satellite phone for your basic talk and text needs. This is our top recommendation.

  • Water-tight Hardcase
  • 2 Fully Charged Batteries
  • 12V Charger
  • Magnetic Antenna Mount
  • Wall Charger
  • International Adapters
  • Quick Cheat Sheet Guide

Explorer 510: PoRTABLE INTERNET

The Explorer 510 is the most portable satellite internet device available on the market and easy enough to take on a camping trip. This will allow you to transform your smartphone into a satellite phone. This will also allow you to check email or browse the internet by connecting wirelessly through your smart device or laptop.

  • Travel Charger with International Plugs
  • Quick Reference Guide
  • Ethernet to USB adapter
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Carrying case
Mobile satellite internet explorer 510

Stay Safe on Your Camping Trip

Having all the right gear and devices for your camping trip means you’ll be prepared. And the more prepared you are the more enjoyable your vacation will be and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve taken the utmost care to keep your family safe in the event that something doesn’t go according to planned. We’ve included camping safety resources for further information.

Once you have it all planned out and have secured the gear you need, the only left to do is enjoy your next great outdoors adventure!

BEST CAMPING SPOTS IN THE U.S.​

LUDINGTON STATE PARK

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

WASHINGTON

utah

michigan

Camping FAQ

 Most definitely. Kids love to learn and kids love to be outdoors. Nature is one of the best places to teach children. There are so many amazing things to see and do. Imagine the excitement of a child when they spot a deer or other type of wildlife. Or their enthusiasm to locate varies items on a hike or scavenger hunt. Or the anticipation of catching their own fish. And how about the creativity they have with leaves, sticks, pinecones etc. when doing outdoor crafts.

Well, we can’t control the weather so we just have to make the best of it. Rain or any other type of bad weather can really alter outdoor plans. It can be nice and beautiful one moment and turn dark and dangerous the next. A little planning and preparation can reduce the problems and the disappointment of bad weather on your activities. Anticipate the possibility. Take steps to minimize its impact on your campsite and have alternate activities planned.

 Convenient they are not. But after a full day of activity in the heat of the summer they are definitely necessary. Conditions of bathhouse facilities vary at each location. Some are better then others. Check out some simple tips at Taking a Campground Shower. Always do your part to help keep the facilities clean and always be respectful of other campers.

The things you will need to take with you depends on what type of camping you want to do, the time of year and also on the activities you plan on doing. For example, if you are backpacking you will have to take more practical type items and be more concerned with weight and size. If you are camping with children, you should consider comfort and also bring more activity type items to keep them busy. 

We have a large selection of quality outdoor products and supplies available to meet the needs of both beginner and experienced outdoor enthusiast. When away from home and many other conveniences, you need reliable equipment. Proper use, maintenance and storage of your equipment and supplies will assure many years of outdoor enjoyment. 

A campfire of course. There are many possible ways to cook with a campfire, but my personal favorite is foil cooking. The are a tremendous number of mouth watering meals you can make using this method. Use any combination of eggs, meat and seasonings and you have breakfast. Use any combination of meat, vegetables and seasonings and you have lunch or dinner. Corn on the cob or potatoes make great side dishes. And of course we can’t forget the banana boats for an evening snack.

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