A Complete Camping Guide for Beginners
Camping is an excellent socially distanced getaway, and if you’ve never camped before, you might be wondering exactly what you need to get started. This camping guide should set you up for success, so keep reading!
The Stuff That Matters
Camping is not one of those things about which people say that too much is never enough. Whatever you bring, you’re going to have to lug to your camping spot, set up, break down, and carry back to the car! So, without further ado, we present the essential camping guide:
- Tent: Tentmakers are often a bit optimistic in their descriptions. A “four-person” tent doesn’t usually fit four adults comfortably, unless they’re all very small and very, um, close with each other. As a general guideline, a tent described as a three-person tent is a good size for a couple, and a six-person tent will generally work well for a family of four. If at least one person in your group is of average height or taller, you may want to check the tent’s peak height to make sure there will be at least one place where they can stand up straight.
- Sleeping Bags: Sleeping bags are temperature-rated, and unlike the tent descriptions we talked about above, they tend to hold true; of course, everyone’s own personal thermostat is a bit different, so keep that in mind when you’re picking out bags. Mummy-style bags take up a little less room and hold in body heat better, but the traditional square style tends to be more comfortable, especially if you’re a person who might need to squiggle out and head to the latrine in the middle of the night. Couples who want to be cozy can choose sleeping bags that zip together.
- Sleeping Pad: Okay, this isn’t strictly a necessity, but it’s going to go a long way in making your camping trip pleasant. Sleeping pads often feature high-tech insulation (R-value), which keeps you warmer at night as well as comfortably cushioned. Air mattresses are nice and bouncy, but the big pockets of air can leave you chilly at night.
- Camp Chairs: These are other items that fall into the not-quite-a-necessity category, but they’re very nice and today’s chairs are lightweight and compact. Some even have cup holders! Chairs with mesh seats and backs are a good choice if you’re going to be swimming, and they also dry quickly if it happens to rain. Even if you’re not close to the weight limits, chairs in the “big and tall” category often have wider seats and feel more stable (unrelated pro tip – this holds true for home office chairs as well!).
- Lighting: You’ll definitely want to make sure that you have a flashlight or two with plenty of extra batteries, but a lantern is nice so you can have your hands free to cook or do other tasks. Headlamps work well for this too, and if everyone is wearing one, no one is dorky!
- Cooking Gear: If you’re comfortable cooking over a campfire, you don’t really need a camp stove, but the stove is much easier to get going and the heat is more controllable. You’ll probably also want a cooler, and if you can, this is an item that’s worth upgrading. There really is a difference in performance between budget models and well-engineered ones, and food safety is not something to skimp on. Pots and pans, plates, and silverware don’t have to be anything special, but they should be lightweight and multipurpose whenever possible.
- Storage/Carry Solution: Of course, all the best gear in the world is useless if you can take it with you or if you don’t store it properly. That is why we strongly recommend to get a couple of Tough Hook Heavy Duty hangers to help you carry of your stuff to the campsite. These hangers are designed to be multi-purpose, meaning, that you can use then to hang up 150 lbs. worth of stuff without breaking a sweat and take them with you to the campsite or keep your camping gear properly organized once you are settle. It’s pretty handy really. for example, you could hang ropes, chairs, towels, hammocks, even fully assembled tents, you can be creative with a Tough Hook hanger.
This camping guide wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t address clothes and personal care items. Things for your person are personal, of course, and there’s no way to address everyone’s preferences. Still, there are some basic guidelines to take into consideration.
Synthetic fabrics tend to dry faster than cotton, and wet clothes can feel miserable (you probably won’t have a lot of extra changes of clothes with you). Bring a lot of layers so that you can adjust easily, since you may be surprised how you’ll go from freezing cold in the morning to hot and sweaty under the sun. Looking good is the least of your concerns, but keep in mind that clothes with abstract patterns tend to show dirt less, and you’ll definitely be dirty. You’ll need sturdy shoes, of course, but if you have room, a pair of slip-ons (closed toe and heel, please) for late-night latrine trips are a good idea.
Be sure to pack any prescription meds that you’ll need, and it’s not a bad idea to bring an extra day’s worth just in case. Over-the-counter pain relievers, antihistamines (for allergies), and antidiarrheal may also be welcome. You’ll want to put together or purchase a comprehensive first-aid kit, too. Pack plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent. Toiletries that do double-duty, such as combination shampoo and body washes, take up less room and will probably be just fine for a few days even if you like fancier stuff at home. Even if the campground has public bathrooms, bring bathroom tissue and hand soap as well since they’re not always as well stocked as one might hope.