So you want to go camping? You have a rough idea what you need, but you’re not really sure? You know that you need a tent and a sleeping bag at least – Right? But what else?
In this article I’m going to help you out with some camping tips for all you newbies out there.
If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you have never been camping before, but you’re really keen on trying it out? Or, you’ve experienced it and the bug has bit (so to speak), but need some more encouragement?
Like everything else in life, there are amazing upsides to outdoor camping, and some discomforts you might have to put up with.
Upsides of Camping
- That feeling of pure freedom sleeping out in the wild
- Sitting around a campfire
- The soothing sounds of the outdoors
- Seeing the stars at night
- Beautiful scenery
- Great fun as a family
- Kids love it
- It’s Romantic – sometimes 😉
- Fun with friends
- The excitement of finding the perfect spot
- Fresh air
- Cooking and eating outdoors
- exhilarating outdoor activities
- Chilling on a hammock with a book
- Feeling closer to nature
- Good for the soul
Hardships of camping
- Extreme weather conditions
- Being unprepared
- Equipment malfunction
- Inadequate campsite facilities
- I’m sure there are a few more, but you can handle those., can’t you?
Now that I’ve convinced you that the pro’s far outweigh the con’s – let’s get you prepared.
A Couple of Tips
- Before you decide that you want to go on a 2 week camping vacation for the first time in your life, I recommend you first try it out for a weekend in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, then at least at a nearby campsite with great amenities.
- If you’ve never been camping before, and you just want to try it out because your friends told you how amazing it is, then I suggest you borrow their gear first, before you spend your well earned cash on something you may not find as enjoyable as you initially thought.
- I don’t recommend you head out into the deep wilderness on your first excursion, rather try out a camp ground that has great facilities with water and electricity.
Ok! So now you’ve decided you are going to do this. This is what you need to get prepared
Essential Camping equipment
Please note that as a newbie camper I am just giving you the absolute basics here. I’m going to keep it as simple as possible, without giving you too many options to choose from, because there really are so many different types of camping apparatuses in all the various departments that I could be here all day and end up confusing the both of us. I will be discussing a more detailed description of items in future posts.
Below is just a basic list of items to take with you. And below that is a more in-depth explanation of each item and best suggestions.
As I mentioned, I’m keeping it simple for now. If you’re on your own or just a couple of you then I recommend a Dome Tent. If you’re a family then I recommend a Cabin Tent.
But first – A Couple More Tips
- Always allow for double the number of people you expect to sleep in one tent. for example – if there are just 2 of you then go for a 4-man tent. If there are 4 of you then an 8-man tent will be better.
- This is to give yourself comfortable room to move around in and space for your luggage
- Depending on your age and or your ability to manoeuvre a.k.a. getting dressed lying and sitting down, I’d suggest a taller tent.
- I also personally, now that I’m older, can’t handle being on my knees and squatting in a tent while searching for things.
As the name suggests the shape of this tent is a dome with a high centre point and sloping sides
- Lighter than most tents
- Packs up compactly
- Easy to pitch with 2 or 3 poles and no guy ropes
- Dome shape ensures the prevention of water or snow retention
This is an ideal tent for families of 3, 4 or 5. I have one just like this in the picture and we as a family absolutely love the space and flow it gives us.
- Quite easy to pitch
- High standing centre
- Vertical walls
- Good ventilation
The two most important aspects of a sleeping bag are: –
- it must keep you warm
- It must fit it your body size.
Buying the right sleeping bag “for you” will be a great investment, lasting many years.
Bags are either filled with down feathers or synthetic fibres.
Down Feather Sleeping Bags
- Fold down to a small pack size
- Can’t get wet, otherwise they lose the insulation and takes long to dry out
- More expensive
Synthetic Sleeping Bags
- Dry easily
- They can pack small
- Cooler than Down
I personally prefer down sleeping bags with a full two zip system that I can keep closed on a cold night or open it up completely to use as a duvet on warmer nights.
Another option to consider is the shape. Do you want a rectangular bag (for warmer camping climates) or a mummy shaped bag (suited to colder climates). Now there are even semi-rectangle and spoon shaped bags marrying the best of each shape. You’ll have to figure out you’re ideal camping climate – they warmer the better, I say 😉
Sleeping Pad / Camp Cot
You have to be comfortable if you’re going to enjoy camping. And that means getting a good night’s sleep.
You already have a roof over your head and a comfortable sleeping bag. Now you need a comfortable bed.
Your bed options (for the purpose of our type of newbie car camping situation) are: –
- The Ground – Not ideal, but extremely cheap
- Sleeping Pad – Light and easy to transport and affordable
- Blow-up Mattress – fun and bouncy, very bulky, need a compressor to blow it up – often
- Camping Cot – Heavy and a bit bulky but oh so, so, sooooo comfy, slightly more expensive
From the above list, I guess you can tell I enjoy sleeping on a camp cot. When I was younger I didn’t mind the floor, then I tried the self inflating sleeping pads and even the blow-up mattress – the absolute worst. Now at my tender age and enjoying the pro’s of car camping, a camp cot it is for me.
You’ve arrived at your camp site setup your tent and sleeping arrangements have been organized and now you need a rest. Sitting on a log, a rock or the ground isn’t too much fun. Make sure you have a chair for each of you.
A comfortable chair goes a long way in ensuring you enjoy the view during the day and the campfire at night.
Even though a lot of developed campsites have a picnic tables, it’s always a good idea to take an extra one for meal prep and playing board/card games around. And it will be very beneficial should you arrive at a site promising a wooden picnic bench, but it’s in a state of disrepair.
A simple fold up table takes up very little space.
I would suggest at least investing in the following: –
- 1 Headlamp each
- 1 Flashlights per 2 people
- 1 lantern per campsite (preferably 2) – (battery operated is easiest for starters)
You’ll more than likely be cooking your own food, well I hope so, because cooking outdoors is really fun.
It’s always nice to use the fire to cook your food on, especially for barbequing. You will need a basic set of pots and pans, in order to cook up some deliciousness when not just using the grid over the fire.
A small camping propane gas stove is also great to have, especially for convenience and when it’s raining. So in summary: –
Crockery & Cutlery
You can use stuff from home, but I suggest the best and easiest way to cater to your needs is to have a picnic basket, that has enough plates and utensils for eating and cooking. That way everything is neat and tidy and in place.
Don’t forget your dish washing towels and soap
Every camper should have one, especially if you get a cut or bruise and even just need some re-hydrate. A basic kit should suffice for now, as you’re not venturing too far out into the wilderness just yet. As a newbie, I really hope you’re not 😉
A cooler is imperative to any “car” camping trip. There are so many different options. You’ll know best which sizes you need.
- Take one for food and one for drinks, so that you can keep your drinks cold without melted water seeping into your food
- If you have an electrical point at your campsite, consider taking and electric fridge/freezer
Now that you have a good idea of what you will need for your first camping trip I urge you to do some of your own research or you can look out for future posts of mine describing items in much more detail.
In the mean time why don’t you get excited by checking some awsesome campsites near you by clicking here
In addition to that, please feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below,
Happy camping and I know you’ll love it as much as I and my family do.