If you are interested in camping but don’t know where to start, start here! This is a list of some of the basics of camping. Remember to always pack your 10 Essentials and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
Get a tent that is slightly larger than what you think you’ll need. Think about all of the trips you don’t want to make to get something from the car and how great it is to have your fresh, clean clothes with you in the morning. You’ll appreciate having the extra room for your bags, a pet, or even a friend!
Test your gear at home and make sure you know how to use everything. Spend a night in your backyard or living room. Set up your sleeping pad/ air mattress, sleeping bag, and tent. Check your headlamp, lantern, and/or flashlight have working batteries and make sure you pack extra batteries. Test your stove and pack extra propane. Do not rely on making a fire for cooking. View a detailed list of the 10 Essentials for hiking and camping here.
Plan your meals. Consider the number of meals per day, number of people, and how much you can fit. Think simple and healthy. Freeze-dried meals are easy and convenient but maybe you want to try your hand at some of these recipes. And always remember snacks!
Checklists are a great way to decrease the chances of forgetting something. Each time you camp you can adjust the list to add things you wish you had and take off things you wish you left home. This is a good one to get you started.
Pack extra clothes. They are nice to change into at the end of the day if you’ve been hiking and sweating all day. Don’t go to bed sweaty. In most locations, the temperature drops at night. Be prepared with layers to stay warm.
Pay attention to the weather forecast. Watch out for storms. If you are still planning, choose a different day to head out. It’s better to be safe and dry than it is to be soaked and in danger of flash floods, lightning, or worse.
Get to the campground early. Explore the area after you set up your gear to get your bearings. Locate the bathroom, nearest trash bin, and ask how to use your bear locker if your site has one.
If this is your first time and you are not going with anyone who is experienced, stay close to home. Just in case you don’t like it, you’re short on food, or something happens at home or work that causes you to leave early.
Follow the campground rules. There are some rules that are standard but you’ll want to check before arriving or when you get there.
- Quiet time. Usually starts at 10pm.
- Don’t move or bring wood. You can purchase firewood from a local store or ranger station or gather wood responsibly.
- Remember to pack away all food and sensibles.
- Pay attention to campground speed limits.
- Be considerate if you arrive late.
- Leave your campsite better than you found it.
- Keep your kids and pets under control.
Enjoying nature and getting away from the hustle and bustle for a few days is a great way to relax and reset. Bring games, tell stories, stargaze and remember, have fun!
Check out this video on how to set up and break down a tent.
All tents are different, so check the directions on your tent.