Camping is a great family activity for all ages. But if you've never done it before, don't worry; this guide is here to help you get started! Camping can be a fantastic experience for the whole family; it allows families to connect in new ways and provides an opportunity for parents and children to learn about nature together. Campers must be prepared with knowledge of what they'll need and how they can make their camping trip fun and memorable. That's where our Camping For Beginners Blueprint comes in!
We've created this guide as a "one-stop-shop" that will provide everything you need to know about getting started, both from the perspective of adults looking forward to spending time in nature and for kids anticipating the new experience. Be sure also to check out our comprehensive guides for more advanced topics like knowing what wildlife to expect when camping, how to make s'mores on an open fire, etc.
Choosing your campsite
The first thing you need to do when going camping is to decide upon a location. When I say location, I mean campsite. To have a successful trip, it's advised that you choose your campsite with great care and attention. The place where you choose to pitch your tent can significantly impact how much fun you have and how many fish you catch. Nothing can be more frustrating than having a great trip ruined by the fact that your campsite was not suitable for what you wanted to do. When it comes to camping, location is everything.
People spend a lot of time finding the perfect campsite because they know that this will make the difference between a great trip and a bad trip. The good news is that choosing a campsite can be very easy if you know what you're doing.
Here are some simple guidelines that you can use when looking for a perfect campsite:
- First and most importantly, make sure the area in which you want to camp is permitted. This is very important because getting caught in an illegal campsite will cost you dearly.
- Make sure your spot has access to water, electricity, and facilities such as bathrooms and showers.
- Find a spot that is low on people and noise because you will want to be able to enjoy your camping experience without any interruptions or distractions.
- Make sure that the ground is dry and soft enough for pitching your tent. Remember, you do not want to wake up with a sore back after sleeping on hard, bumpy ground.
- Most notably, try to stay away from wildlife because you don't want to get attacked or bitten by a wild animal while you sleep.
While choosing your campsite might seem like a daunting task, it doesn't have to be. If you follow these simple guidelines, finding the perfect location for camping will be a lot easier and less stressful. Choosing where you're going to camp for the weekend is one of, if not the most important, decisions when planning your trip. This step will draw in many other aspects, such as what you take with you, how far away it will be from civilization, and most importantly, how you're going to get there. Choosing a place that provides most or all of your needs, such as a campsite that allows you to cook and have shelter, is the easiest way to succeed on your trip.
Purchasing Your first camping Tent
First things first, you're going to need a tent. You can either use a big family-sized tent or a backpacking style one depending on your budget and the type of camping you'll be doing if you have the money to buy two kinds of tents, good for you! That means you can go car camping with your family and then go backpacking with just your significant other or most trusted friends.
Choosing A Tent
If you're on a budget, the best bet is to find an affordable tent that will be good for all types of weather (you can't expect to overnight backpack in the winter), won't break the bank, even if it means compromising on size or weight. If you are willing to make some sacrifices, you can find a tent with budget prices and backpacking performance. Most of us start with one family-sized tent for car camping, usually around 7 feet in height, 4-5 feet in width at the base, and 6 - 8 feet in length. And if you're covering multiple seasons, it's probably good to invest in a 3-season tent, which is the most common because they are versatile across weather types. If you don't want to make significant investments upfront, plenty of affordable tents on the market will work for beginners.
You should expect a considerable number of campsites to be accessible for your first time camping. Look for signs that indicate whether a park is suitable for children, such as whether dogs are permitted and toilets and showers. It's usually a good idea to reserve a campsite with decent facilities and a town close by so you have many locations to eat and purchase supplies if you forget something if you're a novice camper.
Purchasing Sleeping bags
You'll need a sleeping bag to ensure you get a good night's sleep in your tent. There are 2 types of sleeping bags that are suitable for camping, down or synthetic. Synthetic bags are usually the preferred choice because they're much cheaper and still provide adequate insulation. Down sleeping bags are more expensive, don't retain heat when wet, and are more challenging to care for.
Down sleeping bags are usually better for cold weather camping because they have the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulation. They are also naturally water-resistant, so you don't have to purchase a separate waterproof bag liner that will keep your bag dry even if you're camping in wet conditions or near a river.
Synthetic bags are usually more affordable, though they tend to lose their insulating properties when wet, so you will need a waterproof stuff sack for camping near water if you get a synthetic bag. They are also significantly heavier than down sleeping bags, which can be an inconvenience if your primary method of transportation is by foot or bike. Some synthetic bags also have a "cold spot" where the insulation is densest, which means you feel cold in that area if you sleep on your side.
The choice is up to you, and you can always start with a cheap synthetic bag and later upgrade to a down one once you've decided whether it's worth the extra expense. You can get a reasonably priced sleeping bag from a reputable brand like Western Mountaineering or Marmot. For a synthetic bag, you should be able to get a decent one for under $100 from brands like Kelty and Coleman.
If your budget allows it, it's nice to have a self-inflating sleeping pad to go underneath your sleeping bag. They tend to be more comfortable, insulate you from the ground better, and dry out quicker if they get wet. That said, it's not necessary if you're on a budget and will still have a good experience without one.
If you're going overnight backpacking or going to an area where there is even a slight chance of encountering solid winds, it's essential to bring some form of wind protection. Many backpacking tents come with "vestibules," which are covered porches where you can store your pack and other camping gear out of the elements. If your tent doesn't have one, you should invest in a lightweight tarp that you can use to cover your pack and maybe even make a small enclosure where you can cook and eat.
If you plan on cooking or setting up camp at night, it's helpful to bring a headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries. There will likely be places in the campsite which aren't well-lit, so getting a flashlight along ensures you won't trip over anything and wake up the other campers around you.
Why go camping?
Camping can be a gratifying experience. You get to soak in the sounds of nature, enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, and even tell scary ghost stories around a campfire. It's also a great way to reconnect as a family as you enjoy each other's company away from everyday distractions. And best of all, it gives you a chance to try out new ideas and get creative with your camping style.
Who can go camping?
Camping isn't just for seasoned outdoorsmen; it's also an excellent opportunity for beginners. It's an activity that anyone can learn, regardless of age or ability. Whether you plan on taking the kids on overnight adventures or sticking closer to home, there's always plenty to discover out in the woods.
How much does camping cost?
Camping for beginners can be pretty expensive. Though there are many ways to camp out on a budget, buying all the camping gear you need will cost some money. If you want to spend as little as possible, it is possible to use items around your house. To find out if camping is something that interests you before you buy camping gear, go with friends on a short camping trip. Even if you do not like the experience, knowing this now is better than spending money on expensive equipment. Certain things can be borrowed or bought secondhand for cheap. For example, most scout groups will sell used tents and cooking equipment at low prices. Outdoor and secondhand stores will often have items that are still in good condition for a low price. A new tent can be bought for around $20 while high quality, the four-season tent can cost about $200-$500.
If you decide to go camping more than once or twice, it is recommended that you buy some decent equipment rather than continuing to use borrowed or secondhand items. It is also good to save money for future camping trips so you will not have to pay as much.
What do I need?
The following list contains the necessities: sleeping bag and tent, pad and pillow, cooking supplies, and first aid kit. You can alter this list depending on your camping location, weather, and planned activities.
A sleeping bag is needed for warmth when it gets cold at night. The temperature rating does not indicate how warm the sleeping bag will be during use; it is only there to tell you what temperate the outside world will need to be (in Celsius) for you to feel comfortable. A sleeping bag will usually have a comfort rating about 10 degrees higher than the outside temperature. For example, if it is 5 degrees Celsius outside, your sleeping bag should be used between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius.
The tent protects you from insects, precipitation, wind, and other environmental factors. It is a good idea to have a four-season tent, even if you plan on going in the summer months. If it is windy outside, having a solid pole system will protect you from being blown around and reduce the chance of your belongings being blown away.
When camping without electricity or modern appliances, cooking becomes a bit more complicated. You need to have a stove, fuel, cooking pots and utensils, dishwashing supplies, and other camping cooking equipment. A portable stove will be needed if you plan to cook your food or heat water for hot chocolate, tea, or coffee. They do not cost that much and are worth having when you are camping. Look online for reviews of different models before making a purchase. A cooking kit is also necessary to cook food on your stove.
You should always have a small first aid kit with you when camping. This will help treat typical injuries, so they do not become worse in the wild. Be sure to pack a bag with a small flashlight, extra batteries, matches or lighter, pocket knife, insect repellent, sunscreen, and bug spray.
What clothing should I bring?
If you plan on going camping in the summer months, you can get away with minimal clothing. This means three to four T-shirts and two to three pairs of shorts or pants. A jacket is also recommended for early morning and evening hours, especially camping in the mountains. If it is cold outside, make sure to bring some warm clothing. This includes thermals, a thick winter coat with a hood, gloves, scarf, hat, and several pairs of socks and long underwear. A good pair of boots or hiking shoes are also essential.
What are some other things I should bring?
You will need a first aid kit, water bottle, portable stove if it is not provided by the camp operator, rainproof cover for your backpack, headlamp, or flashlight with extra batteries. A sleeping pad and pillow are also essential for a good night's sleep. A sleeping pad and pillow will make your stay in the tent much more comfortable. A sleeping pad can cost about $20-$50 depending on its thickness, while a good pillow costs around $10-$15. If you already have some at home, feel free to bring these items if they are appropriate for camping.
Where should I go?
The first place to start is by asking your friends and family if they know of any good campgrounds around the area where you live or where they live. You can also check websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or google for reviews of different campsites. If you are looking for a free place to camp, try doing some research on "dispersed camping," which is setting up your tent anywhere that is away from developed campsites. This will usually be found in national parks or on federal lands where car camping is allowed.
You could also go with an organized activity if you want some help planning out your trip. Many different outdoor recreation activities provide suitable equipment and offer instruction on how to use it. A few of these include rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking.
Where to go camping
Camping can be done in various places, and it's essential to know where you want to go camping before you start packing.
Temperate forests: Temperate forests contain many features that campers love: lots of space, shade from trees, and water nearby.
Mountains: Mountains are suitable for hiking and camping
Deserts: Be aware that deserts are scorching during the day but can get quite cold at night
How to go camping
Camping is about getting back to the basics of life. One of those basics is shelter. There are many ways you can camp, so this section will go over some of the options you have.
How to pack for camping
Camping generally requires a lot of equipment, and you can't fit all of it in one bag. So make sure to be organized when packing!
What to bring camping
Not everything is allowed at every campsite, so check with the campground to see what you're allowed to bring before packing.
How to act around other people
Camping is more than just staying at a campsite, and it's about enjoying nature and taking some time off. Try not to be too loud around other people when visiting beaches, and you should be fine!
How to cook food
Camping isn't always about cooking burgers on a grill. If you want to do that, then, by all means, go ahead. But if you would rather not, there are many other options you can try! Cooking over an open flame is fun, but it requires practice to be done correctly.
How to have fun
Camping is about spending time with family and friends. It's an excellent way to get some fresh air while having fun, so try it out! If you follow this article, you should know how to go camping by the end of it! Good luck, and enjoy your travels.
How to prepare for a camping trip
Whether you're camping for a weekend or an extended period, I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Fail to prepare and prepare to fail." It's no different when preparing for a camping trip. The first step is to make your list. It would be best if you considered what you'd need while out in the wild and added these items to your camping list. You don't have to spend hundreds on equipment if you're new to camping, so keep it simple and start small. You can upgrade as time goes on and as you get the hang of things. Head over to a local outdoor gear store and browse around for camping tools, utensils, tents, sleeping bags, etc. Keep in mind you can rent camping gear if you're just after the experience and don't want to invest any money yet.
Campfire recipes and cooking tips
Here are some tips on how to cook while you are camping. For people who have never gone camping before, it might be a good idea to take somebody with experience the first couple of times so that they can show you around. It is always best to know what you are doing before you go into the wilderness.
That way, you can experience a more rewarding trip knowing that your food will taste delicious and give you some confidence when setting up camp.
- When cooking basics such as scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, cook them in aluminum foil on top of coals.
- If you are not sure how to make your fire, ask somebody who has experience.
- When cooking meat like hot dogs or marshmallows, it is best to grill them on sticks or skewers. Of course, you will need to find sticks before you start this process.
- Make sure that your camping stove is out of the reach of children because they might be tempted to play with it.
- Keep the fire at a manageable size and leave it under control at all times.
- Cooking over an open fire gives food a unique flavor you cannot get any other way: try cooking some s'mores!
- When camping, make sure that you know how to make your campfire before you start. If you don't, ask somebody for help or a lesson.
- Try to use a camping stove when cooking hot dogs and other meats that will take a long time to cook through.
- Make sure that your fire is manageable and under control at all times.
- Cooking over an open fire adds a unique flavor to any food: try some s'mores!
- Be sure to ask somebody with experience how to make your campfire before you start, or ask for help if it is your first time camping.
Camping can be enjoyable and rewarding when done right. Make sure that you cook over an open fire like the beginning of this article advises, because having a good time while camping is the best thing about it. It's all about having a good experience and making sure that you enjoy every moment of your trip.