No matter who you are or how you grew up, many people want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life for a little while. Disconnecting from everyday life and going out into the great outdoors can be a very relaxing and rewarding experience.
However, without a lot of outdoor experience, it can be intimidating to take your first steps into the world of camping. There are so much equipment, so many campgrounds, and so many different opinions. What is the first step?
What camping equipment should you take to go camping?
There are many essential things to bring to camping, some are obvious, and some are not. I’ve made a list of camping equipment that you need no matter where you go.
Many of the more developed campgrounds will have running water nearby and a communal bathroom. Many campgrounds have a picnic table, a tent, and a place to park your car nearby (or on-site). None of this is guaranteed, and it is important to research what the site looks like.
If this is your first camping experience, you may not have the equipment you need to go on an adventure. But that’s okay. It may be better for you to try it before you invest any money anyway. Try to find a friend who has some of this equipment and borrow it on a weekend when they might not use it. If you don’t have an outdoor friend or your outdoor friend is very possessive of their gear, it is possible to rent the necessary equipment from several outdoor retailers.
Tents are a fundamental part of any camping trip. Unless you go with a few experienced people who know how to camp correctly without one (e.g., hammocks), you will need one. Almost all tents have a “people limit.” There are tents for 2 people, 3 people, and can reach a height of 15 or more. In general, go with one more person than there will be sleeping in a tent. So a couple will want a 3 person tent, a family of four may want a 5 or 6 person tent. They tend to rate them as if people sleep like sardines. If you are camping with your family, it is advisable to go 2 people higher than what is suggested by the manufacturer (i.e., 4 people will want a tent for 6 people).
It is fun to cook over an open fire while camping, but it is often inconvenient and can be very frustrating. Sometimes it’s even illegal to light fires depending on where you are. I suggest everyone try it at least once per trip (if regulations allow it), but a camping stove will be essential for more practical cooking. Don’t forget the fuel too! Often, camp stoves run on propane, and if you forget it, you will have frozen meals or a shameful outburst at the nearest retailers.
Campgrounds do not have street lighting or their lighting, so you will need to bring your own. Flashlights, lanterns, and headlights will all be useful depending on the task at hand. You will need at least one lantern and a few flashlights (I tend to bring one per person, although some would call this excessive).
First Aid Kit
The worst time to realise you need a first aid kit is when you need it. Always prepare ahead of time and make sure you have a first aid kit in your camp equipment. Many first aid kits are available online or in stores. Check your gear to see if it contains a useful emergency guide to help you deal with situations you may not be familiar with. It can save your life!
Sleeping bag and sleeping cushion
A good starting point when looking at sleeping bags is the temperature index. If you plan to go in the summer, a camping bag in good weather is all you need. If you plan to camp in the fall or spring, you may want to choose one on the warmer side. A sleeping pad is there to provide comfort and help you avoid losing body heat through the ground. Big Air mattresses are a path that many beginners want to take, but they tend to lose more heat than you might expect because of their lack of insulation. If you prefer to be off the ground, consider a crib instead.
Finally, a lot of equipment can vary greatly depending on where you go, and the time of year you are going. You may need to modify the suggestions on this list to consider all the circumstances you know about the terrain, wildlife, weather, and regulations.
Read more here: The Camper’s Ultimate Backpacking Checklist