Camping is easily one of the most fun and relaxing activities available to individuals, families, and friends. Not only does camping allow you to commune with your natural environment, but it has been shown to have several health benefits. Some of these benefits include reducing stress, enhancing creativity, and clearing mental blocks.
Of course, if it’s your first time camping, you might be a little intimidated about what awaits you out in the woods. To lessen your concerns and increase your likelihood of a successful trip, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to camping. On this list, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to go camping, how to stay safe, and how to have fun at the same time.
Regardless of your location, there are a few camping basics that you’ll need to purchase before heading out into the woods. Though camping in extreme conditions (cold, hot, etc.) may require additional purchases, it’s a safe bet that you shouldn’t enter the woods at all without the following items checked off your list.
- Tent or shelter – No matter where you camp, you need to be safe from the elements.
- Sleeping bag – Not just for warmth, but for comfort as well.
Tips for beginners
One of the best ways to introduce a topic like “camping for beginners” is to go over some tips, tricks, and pieces of advice. Many of these come directly from veteran campers and National organizations. That said, with so many helpful tips in one place, our official camping guide will prove helpful to beginners and experienced campers alike.
Rent or borrow expensive gear
One tip that is often left off of the average “camping for beginners” list is the amount of money that can be saved by renting or borrowing gear. If it’s your first time in the woods with your family, there’s no real way of knowing that you’ll enjoy the experience. Why spend thousands of dollars on equipment you’ll have to turn around and sell when you decide camping isn’t for you?You can rent everything from tents to camping stoves to recreational vehicles at a fraction of the cost of purchase. Providing you can keep them in good shape, you’ll end up saving a fortune on your first foray into the woods.
Check out our picks for the best camping tents!
Know your campsite
Though it may seem obvious, beginners often don’t realize how essential it is to know their campsite before pulling up with their tent in tow. You’ll first want to know the laws and rules associated with the campground and the type of camping you’re doing. Second, you’ll want to know what services are available to you should something go wrong.
Know your surroundings
To further elaborate on the above point, it’s also imperative to know your surroundings when going camping. What are the current day and night high and low temperatures? What sort of animals can you find in the area? Are there any unique supplies I might need? Are there any special precautions I need to take? Lastly, before entering the woods, it is essential to know how to get out.
Pick the right sleeping bags
Not all sleeping bags are created equal. For starters, nearly all sleeping bags have a “seasonal rating” or “temperature rating”. Where a summer bag might be perfect for a trip into the Georgia woodlands, it could lead to serious trouble in Main or New Hampshire. Even desert areas are known for reaching extremely low temps at night. Do your research and plan accordingly.
Practice makes perfect
Mother Nature is unpredictable, so practicing various camping skills in a controlled environment (like your garage or backyard) is well worth your time. You don’t want to be in a torrential downpour in the middle of the woods when you find out you don’t know how to set up your tent or light a proper fire. It also gives you time to learn the ins and outs of all your camping gear.
Meal plan and meal prep
Food is an obvious essential in most camping situations, even if you’re planning on catching or hunting your own. That said, just taking a few bags of groceries into the woods is both impractical and unwise.
You’re much better off planning each meal ahead of time and ensuring that you can prepare it in all weather conditions. You’ll also want to make sure you have all the utensils you need and can wash, sanitize, and dry them properly. Lastly, you’ll want to do any significant food prepping before you head into the woods, especially on your first trip.
Plan for your comfort level
There are men and women out there that are so comfortable “roughing it” that they can enter the woods with little more than a compass and a pack of matches. As you’re reading a beginner’s guide to camping, it’s safe to assume you’re not that person.
Overall, it’s important to remember that camping is not a contest. If you’d be more comfortable with canned food and an air mattress, or even a well-equipped RV, go ahead and do it. If you don’t adequately plan for the level of comfort you need, you’re almost guaranteed to have a bad first-time camping experience. You may also want to explore what’s known as “car camping” as well.
FAQs About Camping for Beginners
What equipment do I need to bring when camping?
When camping, you will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag/sleeping mat, cooking equipment (stove and fuel), food and water, clothing suitable for the weather conditions, lighting (e.g. torches or lanterns) and any other items you may need such as insect repellent or sunscreen.
How can I ensure my safety while camping?
To ensure your safety while camping, it is important to plan ahead by researching the area you are visiting and familiarizing yourself with any potential hazards such as dangerous wildlife or bad weather conditions that could arise during your trip. It is also important to inform people of where you’re going in case of an emergency situation and always practice Leave No Trace principles when outdoors.
Is there a particular way to set up my tent?
Yes – there are particular steps for setting up a tent depending on the size and type of tent model you have purchased. Make sure all poles are correctly connected according to instructions before attempting to set up the tent itself; stake out each corner securely; extend rainfly over top if necessary; raise center pole into position; tighten rope lines until taut; adjust guy-lines accordingly for stability; add additional stakes where needed for extra security against wind gusts etc.; test zippers/doors work properly before packing away materials used in setup process!
What types of food should I bring for camping trips?
Foods that can be easily cooked on a camp stove such as pasta dishes, omelettes or stir fries are great options for camping trips! Also make sure to pack foods that don’t require refrigeration like peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix snacks and protein bars which will provide energy throughout your trip! If possible try bringing along fresh fruits/vegetables too but know they won’t last long without proper storage facilities available at campsite – so use these first upon arrival instead of having them spoil over time!
Are there any special precautions I should take in bear country?
In bear country it is important to take special precautions when storing food overnight in order to deter bears from entering campground area near tents or other living spaces – store all scented items including toothpaste/soaps far away from tents & sleeping areas; never leave food scraps around campsite (even biodegradable waste); do not approach bears if spotted nearby & contact local authorities immediately if one appears threateningly close by!
What activities are best for beginners when camping outdoors?
Popular activities for beginners when camping include fishing off shore (if applicable), gathering firewood together with friends & family members around evening hours after dinner-time meal has been enjoyed – this creates quality bonding experiences between those involved while providing ample opportunity for group ‘storytelling’ sessions around flames later on too!, taking nature walks through nearby trails located within park boundaries (while respecting environment’s beauty!), playing board games indoors once night falls outside…and so much more depending on individual interests + needs experienced collectively amongst participants present during extended stay period outdoors.
The woods await you!
As you can see, there are a lot of beginner tips that you should consider before committing to a night out in nature. Where some of them will save you time and money, and others could potentially save your life.
Of course, as long as you have food, water, shelter, and common sense, you should have a great time on your first camping trip. Go enjoy the fresh air!