A camping trip is a major project, and it needs some preparation and equipment in order to make your trip enjoyable. However, it doesn’t need to be expensive or overly complicated, and after you have the knowledge and your basic gear, you will be all set to enjoy memorable experiences for years to come.
The true essence of camping is to make yourself a temporary outdoor home. A majority of the time, that home is a tent, so that is where we will start.
This classic camping shelter protects you from the elements and insects as well as provides you with cozy privacy. Tents come in various price ranges and sizes, ranging from ultra-portable, high-performance ones for backcountry camping up to large models that can be carried in a vehicle quite easily. Don’t underestimate what size you are going to need. Keep in mind that a tent that is large enough on paper to house three adults may be too crowded in real life, particularly when it is raining all day.
Most tents that are sold these days are freestanding models. In general, they are easy to set up and staking isn’t required, although cords (called guy lines) and stakes usually are provided, and it is a good idea to use them in stormy or windy weather. Usually, modern tents are made out a light fabric that comes with mesh windows, have a waterproof cover called a rain fly, and is held up by flexible, lightweight poles. The fly may be fully or partly removed in clear, mild weather so that you can enjoy the view and breeze.
When selecting the site for your tent, search for flat terrain where it is unlikely for rainfall to accumulate or flow. Usually private and public campgrounds have their sites appropriately placed. Before you pitch your tent, be sure there are no rocks or any other obstructions on the ground. Your life inside your tent will be much more enjoyable if you have a smooth floor.
Pads and Sleeping Bags
You should look for a three-season sleeping bag, which is suitable to use at any time except during the winter. Like with tents, that are many different models that are available, ranging from basic to high-tech. Sleeping bags come with comfort ratings that are based on temperature. Remember that out in the field night be chilly when you are making your choice. It is a very good idea for you to learn about what overnight temperatures typically are within the area that you are going to be camping in.
Some individuals won’t be comfortable even if they are sleeping on the best sleeping pad around. A great option in this situation is a cot, as long as you have room inside your tent. For car camping, camping cots can fold down into a manageable size and provide you with the closest option to sleeping in a real bed. They even have tent cots available with real tent features, such as a rainfly and mesh windows. Whether you will be sleeping on a cot or in a bag, each camper should have a pillow. Also throw a blanket into the car, just in case you might have a picnic away from your camping site.
Everybody loves to sit around a nice campfire, but most people don’t like sitting on the ground too long. Be sure to have a stool or chair for each person in your party. These days there are many great camp stools and chairs available in the market. Also, some pack down as small as the size of a loaf of bread. Since you are carrying your gear in a car, portability might not be a major concern. However, camping gear can also quickly fill up your car trunk, so it is often a great idea to save space. So whether you have models with built-in cup holders to take to your children’s soccer games or chairs that are minimalist and modern, always have them with you.
Don’t forget about lighting. Although a campfire has a very nice glow, you still are going to need light for finding your way to the bathroom, at your camp table, for the cooler and inside your tent. Have at least a couple of flashlights, and if possible a battery-powered lantern. Headlamps can be a lot of fun for kids and are quite handy as well.
Your Camp Kitchen
Campfires are excellent for roasting marshmallows. However, for just about everything else you will be cooking at your campsite, the better choice is a camp stove. A stable cooktop that has a flame you can control will make it a lot easier for you to prepare meals. Most of them run on propane and are very easy to use. Models that are lit with a match cost less than those that come with an electronic ignition. There are single-burner models that you can buy, however, the two-burner ones don’t cost that much more money and provide you with a lot more versatility (one burner for eggs and the other for your coffee, one for your sauce and the other for pasta, etc.)
Hygiene and Clothes
Usually for camping, regular mild-weather clothing – sweatshirts, t-shirt, cargo shorts, jeans, etc, are fine. If you are planning to go on an ambitious hike or another type of strenuous activity, then having purpose-made outdoor clothing that has things like UV protection, vent, and quick-drying synthetic fabric is definitely nice. At bedtime, you should always put clean sleepwear on and dirty clothes should be stored inside your car so that it doesn’t attract animals. A good pair of hiking shoes is good to have for long hikes, however, it is fine to wear sneakers if you will mainly be hanging out at your campsite. If there is a place to swim nearby be sure to take your swimming suit along.
Outdoor Comfort and Safety
You can’t avoid insects, but you can manage their impact. Be sure to take insect repellent with you and re-apply it offer, particularly at night, when it is more likely for pests such as mosquitoes to be in the area. Citronella candles and mosquito coils can help to make your campsite not as hospitable for bugs.
Having a multi-purpose tool that has a sharp knife blade is a great thing to invest in. You will most likely find many things to use it for at your camp site. A folding saw or hatchet can be very useful for breaking down firewood (just be sure that you know what the regulations are collecting wood in the area where you are going to be camping; frequently you are restricted to only “dead and down” wood and aren’t allowed to cut off limbs or cut down trees). A claw hammer can be handy for driving tent stakes in and also for pulling them out when you are ready to leave camp.