Camping is a great way to get away from it all. It’s also an affordable and fun activity that the whole family can enjoy! You will find that there are many ways you can go about camping, but it usually starts with a tent or trailer. Before you know it, your tent will be set up and ready for use! If you want to learn more about how to start camping, read on.

Here’s how to get started camping

Planning Your Trip

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The initial thing to keep in mind is the nature of your camping excursion. Sleeping in an RV or automobile at a campground with some short day hikes, or loading your equipment for an extended hiking trip, will require significantly different storage requirements.

The primary distinction is that “camping” refers to a temporary stay in nature instead of “backpacking,” which implies walking over long distances in the woods. 

The camper will generally sleep in a campground while the hiker will walk in and set up camp with what they have brought.

So, the ideal gear is determined by size and portability, or weight. This is a key distinction to keep in mind when purchasing equipment.

Backpackers will often have to spend more money on their gear since their main worry is weight and mobility, although it is critical for camping and hiking.

If you intend on backpacking as well as camping, your first concern will be selecting gear that may be used for both. Instead of following a pre-determined checklist of items, think about your unique demands. However, the list of necessities is unaltered.

Camping Gear

Tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks are the simplest pieces of equipment, to begin with. If you’re a cheapskate, that’s all the more expensive gear you’ve been putting off buying until now. Yes, it’s true. The majority of camping equipment has fallen in price, so you probably won’t need as much as you fear.

Tent

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Unless you have an RV, a tent is your first and most important requirement for sleeping quarters. For some individuals, the same camping tent will not suffice. Tents come in a wide range of sizes and types.

While ultra-light tents are ideal for backpacking, a larger, heavier tent may be preferable if you’re camping near your car. If you’re concerned about setting up a tent, the new “pop-up” tents can literally be pulled out of the bag and set up in under a minute.

  • Tents can be divided into two categories: three-season and four-season tents.
  • The three-season tent will suffice for most activities, with the exception of winter camping. If that’s your thing, a four-season rated tent is essential. It will be constructed of a thicker, more durable material.
  • The good news is that even the “cheaper” camping tents in the $200 to $300 price range are now quite nice. The tie-downs and stakes will be supplied with all of these tents. Another thing to think about, if there’s a possibility of rain or the ground being wet or damp, is to bring a tarp to lay beneath your tent.

Many people, however, simply bring a hammock to sleep in rather than erect a tent. Now, I’m going to give it a shot because it has several major benefits.

The most essential, in terms of importance, is weight. A camping hammock is smaller than a tent in ounces, while in pounds, a tent is larger. A hammock requires just a few trees and minimal set-up to go. I’m going to test this on my next trip.

Poles

More advanced camping tents have poles. These are usually made of fiberglass or aluminum, which makes them lightweight and durable.

Trekking Pole

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If your tent uses a pole system, rather than self-standing like a dome or tunnel, you’re going to need one of these. Trekking poles are super helpful for camping and hiking. They will even be highly functional during snow trips or winter camping activities. 

Keep in mind that many people use two trekking poles as miniature tent poles while erecting their tent.

Sleeping Bags And Pads

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Sleeping bags and pads are similar in that they’re both made to insulate you from the cold. A pad is essentially a foam mattress, while a sleeping bag retains your body’s heat with fillings such as down or synthetic insulation.

The primary difference between them is weight and bulkiness: Sleeping bags tend to be lighter than air mattresses. If you are camping in an area where the ground is much colder than your body temperature, then a pad will be more effective at keeping you warm.

Some people bring both to sleep on top of because they don’t mind being slightly uncomfortable if it means not having to carry around another item in their pack. Sleeping bags also have the advantage of being able to use them in a tent. 

Some air mattresses come with an attached sleeping bag, which is fine for car camping but way too heavy and bulky if you are backpacking.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not your pad will provide enough insulation from the cold ground, bring it along regardless because they tend to be inexpensive. If you find that the pad is just too cold for your liking, then simply put it in or on top of your sleeping bag with you to provide extra insulation.

The bottom line about camping pads and bags: choose one based upon how much weight they will add to your pack versus their ability to keep you warm when placed on a colder surface.

Backpacks

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Backpacks are, in my opinion, the most important things to consider when camping. You will need one large enough for your necessities and to fit all that you buy along the way. If I’m backpacking (and this is what I put myself through), then it has got to be super small and lightweight—the frame is also a must, as it keeps the weight of your pack from falling on your shoulders.

There are many different types of backpacks that serve various functions. If you’re going car camping or hiking for shorter periods, then a daypack is sufficient—they hold plenty and usually have several pockets to keep things organized.

A fanny pack can be a nice compromise between a purse and a backpack. For an extended time in the mountains, consider getting a backpack that has features such as adjustable torso length, detachable daypack, compression straps, and a hip belt that helps distribute the weight of your pack.

They are lighter than other types of backpacks because their main function is hauling heavy loads for longer periods rather than having lots of storage space like a daypack or fanny pack would have. 

There’s also an option in between: some companies make packs with detachable frame systems that can be removed when not needed.

Flashlight And Headlamp

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A flashlight is a must, as you never know when the sun will go down. When you’re camping if it’s going to be dark and even if you have campfires or other sources of light, it’s a good idea to bring a flashlight with you; it helps you find your tent at night. 

When you’re backpacking, a headlamp is an excellent option for when you’re trying to set up your tent or find a location to pee.

Hiking Boots And Shoes

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You may not think of this as important, but the right shoes can make or break your trip. If you’re going to be spending long time periods in wet and muddy conditions, then waterproof boots are a must (and they also help with ankle support and warmth).

If it’s summertime and you won’t need to wear them while hiking on dry land, then a good pair of shoes are nice to have. 

If you’re going for an extended period and/or need shoes that can be worn in different climates, then a versatile boot will suffice—it’s also easier on your back if it serves as both a hiking shoe and a camp shoe.

In the wintertime or during colder seasons, you will need to wear shoes all day, then get boots meant for cold weather. They should be waterproof and insulated with a good tread on the sole so you can walk through snow or ice without slipping.

Map

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There are many different kinds of maps. If you’re car camping, then a map identifying nearby roads and trails is sufficient—if you need to find your way back home or travel beyond the campsite into town, then go ahead and get one that shows more detail (just make sure it’s not too detailed).

If you plan on visiting more than more place, then a general map of the area will typically be more effective as it shows all access roads and trails.

If you’re going backpacking or hiking in larger wilderness areas where there are no nearby roads, towns, shops, etc., then go ahead and get a topographical map that details what is above/below your location.

First Aid Kit

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A first aid kit is always useful, especially if you’re in an area that does not have access to hospitals or clinics.

 

It should include bandages, gauze pads (for cleaning wounds), alcohol swabs (to disinfect), ibuprofen/acetaminophen (pain relievers), tweezers (in case there’s a splinter or other foreign object in your skin), and anything else you think might be necessary, like antihistamine creams/tablets.

 

Pack sunscreen when backpacking through forested areas—you don’t want to get sunburnt while sweating under the hot summer sun! You can also use bug spray if there are bugs that could bite you.

Also, pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer (because nobody likes getting sick!). You can use it to clean your hands before eating if the area is not well-maintained and/or there’s no water nearby for washing up with.

Pack some wet wipes as they are very useful in so many different ways—they can help you clean up when there is no water nearby, remove excess dirt and mud from your hands before cooking or eating with them, wipe down surfaces if the area does not have a lot of sanitation (or at least encourage it by wiping off some germs), and so much more.

Remember to pack up sunscreen and bug spray in case you are camping in the summertime.

Remember to pack a first aid kit if you are planning on going far away from civilization.

Cooking Range

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The right cooking range for you depends on your situation. If you are just camping in one spot, then having a small stove with the ability to attach larger pots will work—just be sure that it has enough fuel capacity if you plan on using it all day long.

If you’re backpacking, I recommend going with something lightweight and compact, so it’s not too much of a hassle to carry.

Different backpacking stoves have different fuel types—you can go with the traditional liquid gas, but if you want something more environmentally friendly, then I recommend going for a compressed gas canister or an alcohol stove (which is reusable). These options are typically better suited for cooking on the go.

Pans and Pots

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You will need at least one pot and/or pan for cooking.

If you have a small backpacking stove, then that can typically handle smaller pots or pans with a maximum capacity of about two liters (just make sure the handles are strong enough to support it if they’re not foldable). You can go as big as four liters if you want, but it will be a challenge to carry and use.

Using pots with non-stick surfaces makes cooking much easier as you don’t have to worry about food sticking or burning onto the surface (and cleaning up afterward is quick). If there’s no such thing in your set, then just add some oil before putting anything into the pan/pot.

If you’re cooking for more person, then it’s a good idea to get at least two pots/pans so you can cook different dishes simultaneously (that way, everyone gets fed faster, and nobody has to wait around too long).

Don’t forget some utensils! Metal tongs work best if there’s no plastic or wooden alternatives.

The right cooking range for you depends on your situation and the type of camping stove that is available to you—the more fuel capacity it has, the better since you don’t want it running out halfway through a meal. If there isn’t enough space in your backpack, then I recommend getting a smaller one so as not to weigh yourself down too much.

FAQ'S

Can you camp on the beach?

Yes, though it’s not recommended if there are dangerous riptides or waves that can knock down an inexperienced camper. You should always find out whether it is safe before setting up your tent.

What other things should I bring along on my camping trip?

A first aid kit, bug spray for protection against bugs that can bite you, sunscreen to protect your skin from the hot summer sun! You can also use bug spray if there are bugs that could bite you. Also, pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer because nobody wants to get sick from the water.

If I run out of fuel for my camping stove, what should I do?

If you do not have a backup plan, then it will be harder for you to cook food and eat on time—which can lead to extreme hunger, which might cause health problems or even death in some cases. Make sure that there is no chance of you running out of fuel.

What do I need to make a fire?

You will typically need wood, kindling, and tinder to successfully start a flame that can be used for cooking food or warmth during cold nights outdoors. You might also want something waterproof like matches or a lighter if the weather is wet as it can take a longer time to start a fire.

How do I clean my cooking pot?

Most camping pots and pans are dishwasher safe, which allows you to keep them clean without much effort. Otherwise, a quick wash with water should be able to get rid of the worst grime before scrubbing it out manually—just make sure that there aren’t any pieces stuck on there as those can be difficult to remove and might even damage your pot.