Camping 101: Camping for Beginners

Camping 101: Camping for Beginners

If you’re looking for a new adventure to try out this summer, camping should be at the top of your list. There’s nothing like taking in the fresh air and feeling the weightlessness of sleeping under the stars. You want it to be a comfortable and fun experience, however, if you’ve never been camping before, it can be hard to know what to bring or how to pack. Luckily for you, we have all that information right here!

What to Bring to Camp

To have a successful camping trip, you’re going to need the right supplies. There’s nothing worse than getting out there into nature and realizing you left your tent at home! Here’s a list of the essentials to bring with you on your camping trip:

– Tent: For your first tent you don’t need anything fancy or expensive. The biggest thing to focus on when you are choosing a tent is size. In our experience, we like having more space than we need. For instance, when it is just us two camping we like having our 4 Person Tent. Plenty of room for changing clothes, playing games inside if some weather comes in, and just generally not being too cramped. 

– Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad: Again, don’t need to break the bank on this purchase. We have a few different sleeping bags that we rotate through based on the season and weather and it has served us well. Pick something that will be best suited for the weather you’re going to encounter. Sleeping pads or cots are also a good idea to have as they provide extra comfort and insulation from the cold ground. Read More about how to sleep comfortably in a tent here.

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– Lighting: Lighting at the campsite doesn’t mean just a lantern. Although you could get by with just a lantern, we have a couple of different types of lighting in our campsite. We have a headlamp that allows us to move around the campsite freely even in complete darkness. Also, we like bringing a solar powered lantern with us that can be set up in the tent and used as a nightlight.

– Chairs: Sitting on the ground for multiple hours at a time is not fun. We always bring chairs with us when we camp and it makes all the difference in the world.

– Fire Starter: This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people forget their fire starter when they go camping. If you forget your fire starter, there is a good chance that it could ruin some of the best moments at camp because everyone is cold and miserable. Always bring a lighter for both the fire and the stove, and know that some type of fuel will make it easier, like a small container of kerosene. 

– Stove: A stove is very important for cooking food when you are camping. You can always bring a propane tank to use with your grill, but we like bringing our camping stove with us because it allows us to cook on top of the stove and use it to boil water. Don’t forget to make sure you have plenty of fuel for your stove!

– Cooler: How else are you going to store your food while camping? You can’t leave it out in the open where animals can get to it! A cooler is a must-have for any camping trip. While a Yeti is fun and super high quality, you can also start out with a more affordable option like this RTIC 52 Quart Cooler.

– Kitchen Utensils: Everything from plates, sporks, and knives to a cutting board and pots and pans. Plan out your meals in advance so you know what to bring and make sure have them before you leave.

– Food: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you need to bring food when camping! Make sure to pack foods that are easy to prepare and don’t require a lot of extra supplies. And don’t forget lots of snacks and even some marshmallows for desert!

– Water: Dehydration can quickly set in when you are out camping so make sure to pack enough water for the entire trip! If you are unsure where you can get water at camp (or if you may not be able to filter your own water, we find it helpful to carry something like this 5 gallon water jug.

– Entertainment: How are you going to pass the time at camp? We’ve found that it’s important not to rely too heavily on our phones for entertainment. Bring along some games, books, or cards to help keep you occupied.

Check out some of our favorite games for camping!

First Aid Kit: This is an essential item that should never be forgotten. You never know when you might need it and there’s nothing worse than getting hurt out in the middle of nowhere without proper medical supplies to take care of it.

– Toiletries: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but make sure to pack all of your necessary toiletries including soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, shampoo, etc. If you aren’t going to have access to a restroom, make sure your toothpaste and any products are biodegradable and that you follow the Leave No Trace principles. 

– Clothing: How cold will it be? How many layers do you need to bring with you? How long are you going to stay out camping? These are a few questions that should puzzle your mind before packing up the car. You don’t want to pack too much clothing and have extra items hanging around or taking up space in your campsite, but you also don’t want to pack too little and be cold all night. The key to being warm while you are outdoors is dressing in layers!

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Find the Perfect Campsite

So, you are all packed up, you finally made it to where you want to camp. But how do you choose the perfect campsite? Well keep these things in mind and you’ll end up with a wonderful camp to enjoy.

– How close is the campsite to your car? The closer your campsite is to your car, the easier it will be to set up or pack up and leave when it’s time.

– How close is the campsite to water? We like camping near water and streams (but not too close based on the 7 Leave No Trace Principles) so we can hear the sound of running water at all times, which also helps drown out noise from any nearby campers or roadways. 

How flat is the ground at the campsite? This one can be tricky because not all campgrounds have perfectly level ground unless you are camping in an established campground. If you’re bringing along a tent, make sure that it will be as flat as possible so you aren’t feeling like you’re sliding downhill at night.

Howmany people will be camping at the site? It’s important to take into account how many people are camping with you and make sure that your campsite has enough room for everyone and their tents. 

– How close is it to any bathrooms/showers? This one can also be tricky because some places might have better amenities than others depending on what type of campground you’re staying at. If possible, choose a campsite that isn’t too far away from restrooms and showers so they don’t become an inconvenience to get to, but not too close that you get the joy of smelling the toilets.

Cooking at Camp

Now that you have your campsite, it’s time to cook! Packing along a cooler full of food and drinks is always a great option for camping. Make sure your meals are easily prepared with minimal utensils and it will be much easier. 

How do I pack my cooler? Purchase a bag of ice from your local grocery store or gas station and fill your cooler about halfway, leaving a couple handfuls of ice in the bag. Lay out your food and drinks in the cooler, then cover with the remaining ice. Make sure anything that’s not water proof is either stored in a plastic bag or is placed above the ice in a tray. 

As far as hot meals go, pre-prepare everything beforehand at home then simply reheat when it comes time for dinner/breakfast. This way everyone can enjoy their meal without having to set up too much stuff around camp.

How do I cook at camp? There are two options for cooking while camping. You can either bring along a stove (such as an outdoor grill or propane burner) OR you can use the campfire! Just keep in mind that the campfire takes a considerable amount longer to heat food than it does on a stove. We love cooking on both our stove (usually with a cast iron skillet) and on the fire using tin foil packets. 

How to make a campfire

If you ask people what their favorite part about camping is, the vast majority will say a campfire! There’s something about sitting around a campfire that just makes everyone happy. Here are some tips on how to make the perfect campfire for your next camping trip:

Location, location, location! You’ll want to find an open space away from any trees or brush and make sure there is plenty of room for people to gather around it.

What type of wood should I use? The best kind of wood to use for a campfire is hardwood because it burns slowly and doesn’t create as much smoke. Avoid using evergreen branches or pine needles because they will create more smoke and don’t always burn well.

How do I start my fire? This one can be tricky but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be a pro! The easiest way to start a fire is by using newspaper and kindling (thin sticks or twigs). Stack the kindling on top of the paper then use a lighter or match to set it on fire. Once the kindling is burning, slowly add larger pieces of wood to the fire until it’s big enough for your needs.

How do I keep my campfire going? One of the most important things about keeping a campfire going is making sure that there is always some fuel available. If the fire starts to die down, simply add more wood to it and it will soon be blazing again. Don’t let it get too low before adding more wood, otherwise it won’t be hot enough to catch the new logs on fire. 

Final Tips for a Successful Night Camping

If possible, go camping during the week, rather than the weekend. Oftentimes, weekend warriors can leave campgrounds full or even over crowded, leading to excess noise and commotion that takes away from the camping experience. Always practice setting up your tent at home, so you can work out any kinks and make sure the tent isn’t missing anything. Don’t forget how to make coffee while camping so you can enjoy a hot drink in the morning and soak in the beauty of nature. Also, taking the time to pre-prepare campfire meals will save you a bunch of time and effort at dinner time. Make sure you have the proper gear to stay warm on those chilly nights, and learn how to stay warm in a tent without electricity

Now that you know all there is to know about camping for beginners, get out there and start planning your next trip! Just make sure to pack along everything you’ll need and be safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

About the Author

Derek Vitiello

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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