You’ve been invited to go camping! That’s great! One problem–you’ve never been, have no idea what to take, and wonder just what’s involved in going camping. Well, here’s a “Camping 101” –a quick rundown that will give you some idea of what to do before, during and after your first camping trip.
If you have been invited by friends, will you be going with them or travelling separately? If you’re going with them you need to find out how much room you’ll have to pack your stuff.
Because there will be stuff.
How much depends on what your friends are going to provide for you. Do they have any gear for you? Will you be taking your own food? Snacks?
Assuming the only thing you will have is a ride and a campfire when you get there, this is what you will need for yourself:
- A tent. (More about choosing one here.)
- Tarps, one over the tent and one under.
- An air mattress. You can make do with a liner but a mattress is comfy and packs down really well when transporting.
- An air pump for your mattress.
- A mattress liner (Nights are nearly always colder than you think.)
- A sleeping bag. (More about choosing one here.)
- Your clothes (This page will give you a good idea about what to take.)
- Food. (You’ll have to make a menu; check out our food index for ideas.)
- A cooler for your food.
- Toiletries (This will include toilet paper; never assume there will be any.)
- Possibly your own toilet (like a Luggable Loo)–check with them
- Plate, cutlery, mug, cooking gear
- Camp stove
- First aid kit
- Folding camp chair (Not a camp stool, your back will thank you.)
–Lots, huh? It packs down amazingly well, but it will still take up considerable space. If they have the room in their car, great! If they don’t, you’ll need to get them to make room. Don’t fret too much–experienced campers will know that already.
The season will dictate a lot of your camp gear choices. Obviously you will need an all-season tent and sleeping bag if the weather is cool or cold; always over-compensate for the weather when choosing your gear. Even in summer, if the camp site is in the mountains, you can have snow. We have, on more than one occasion. Never assume you will stay dry. Prepare for cold, wet weather, and you’ll never suffer (badly).
Check to see if the campsite you’ll be staying at is an established site and whether or not it has showers and other amenities. Even if it has a toilet you may still want to take a portable toilet with you if your tent is big enough; it’s a little luxury that you won’t regret at three in the morning when you suddenly realize you need to go. Badly. Now.
If it’s a campsite in the bush, ask how close to fresh water you’ll be. The further away you are, the more water you’ll have to bring and/or fetch for cleanliness and hydration.
Will you have your own transportation? The best thing to do is arrange to follow the other vehicles out to the place, especially if it’s not an established site. It’s easy to lose your fellow campers if you’re not familiar with where the site is located.
As soon as you get to the site, pick out a spot for your tent, clear it of any debris like sticks and rocks, because you don’t want holes poked in your tent floor. Make sure it’s level (no slopes, otherwise you’ll be fetching up beside the downward tent wall when you sleep). Next, lay a tarp down and erect your tent. Setting up a tent by yourself can be difficult. If you don’t think anyone will be helping you, choose an instant tent, which are a lot easier to erect.
Once your tent is done, blow up your air mattress and lay the liner on it, then your sleeping bag. Throw your gear in the tent. Set up your little personal toilet in one corner, if you brought one.
Then grab your camping chair and set it by the fire. Sit in it. Wonder at the beauty that is nature. Contemplate the joys of marshmallows roasting on the end of a stick.
That’s it! Your camping!
Of course, after you go camping you have to unpack. You will get a whole bunch of tips on how to do that as painlessly as possible here.
Easy, right? No? Well, maybe not. But definitely worth it.