Beginner’s Guide To Camping

If you are looking to spend more time outdoors surrounded by nature, then camping can be a great way to do this.

There are a number of reasons why camping is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing, including the escape from your daily routine and sense of freedom that can be achieved.

More than 40 million people go camping every year, there are so many mental and physical benefits that come from camping. Spending more time in nature encourages you to relieve stress and can even protect the immune system.

You can also improve connections with loved ones and make time to socialize if you are camping with friends or family.

How To Prepare

Start In Your Backyard

If you are less experienced with camping, then it could be worth making small steps towards improving your skills and confidence beforehand. This could involve camping in your backyard or an area that is close to your home.

When you do this, it can make you feel much more confident because you will be able to assemble your tent and camping setup without relying on it.

Knowing that you can go back inside if the weather turns or if you are less comfortable is great for beginners, as it can help them ease into camping.

Getting used to using new equipment can be intimidating, and it can be useful to schedule some practice camping sessions ahead of time in your backyard. This can also help you to rely on people in your group if you plan on camping with others.

Assign responsibilities to individuals and make sure everybody understands what their roles are. It can make setting up your tent and camping setup much smoother when you arrive at a campsite.

Practice How To Set Up A Tent

You can use the first few times camping as practice sessions. This can help you get a better understanding of how to set up your tent, and be able to do it more efficiently.

While many people do not take the time to do this, it can allow you to feel considerably more comfortable setting up your tent and camp anywhere.

Likewise, you can easily get everything set up in little time even when the sun has set. Because there are many different styles of tents, each has a slightly different assembly process as well as packing it down into its bag.

Make sure you are looking at directions online and that you can begin building up the necessary muscle memory for easy set up of your camp.

Choose The Right Camping Style For You

Luckily, there are a range of different options available in terms of camping style. This means that there is a higher likelihood that you will find the right fit for you. Compare your needs and preferences with the types of tents and setup.

You should think about the kinds of comforts that are needed in order to get a good night’s rest, and plan your camping setup based off of this.

Some people prefer a minimalist approach where they can camp underneath the stars using a hammock during warmer weather, while others like to be comfortable and sheltered from the rain and cold.

The different camping styles include backpacking which uses only the items that can fit into a compact bag or hiking pack. Alternatives are car camping, RVs, hiring a cabin, and glamping which is slightly more luxurious.

Plan Your Trip Ahead Of Time

The key to being prepared for anything is to plan ahead. This is especially important when it comes to camping, because there are a range of precautions which need to be accounted for.

Make sure you ask yourself questions about the importance of convenience, and whether you would prefer to stay on a campsite or in the wilderness.

Similarly, you should also think about camping with friends in comparison to camping alone. Some people enjoy the opportunity to share these experiences with those that are close to them, while others appreciate the peace that can come with camping on their own.

Drinking water sources should also be considered ahead of time when you are planning a camping trip.

Plan Your Meals

When you are planning your trip ahead of time, it can also be helpful to think about your meals. This can allow you to do as much preparation as possible and figure out how much food and drink you want to bring.

Some people like cooking on a campfire or a small portable stove, and will pack food that can be prepared easily in this way.

Meanwhile, other people may plan a hike with strategic breaks in places that they can eat. This could involve planning a route which goes close to a diner or restaurant, or even ordering food to the campsite.

Whichever approach you choose to take, it is worth considering your options ahead of time and planning accordingly.

If you are camping with a larger group of people, then you can assign certain meals to different people. Pack a cool box with everything you will need, and make sure you check whether campfires are permitted for cooking at the intended campsite or destination.

Make sure you are also considering breakfasts, lunches, and snacks as well as dinners. Spending more time outdoors and walking can make you more hungry.

Pack plenty of high protein snacks and bottles of water or refillable water bottles to keep you and everybody in your group fueled.

Create A Packing List

One of the main things that should be considered when you are preparing for camping is to consider what you are packing. Managing the weight of your bag and make sure that you have everything that you may need by creating a packing list.

This can take a few camping trips to perfect, but you should eventually have a go-to list that could be used as a checklist whenever you are packing for a camping trip.

If you are planning to walk or hike to your camping site or destination then it is worth carefully planning your packing list to make the load as light and easy to carry as possible.

A first-aid kit is essential because you never know when you are going to suffer from an injury. Make sure your first-aid kit has all the necessary medical supplies and spare prescriptions for everybody in your group.

Likewise, emergency contact details should be kept safe in the same container. Band-aids, pain relief, and possibly an emergency burner phone or radio should also be kept in your first-aid kit.

Similarly, you will need to pack sun protection even if the visibility is poor. The UV can still burn, and it is important to protect yourself from the sun as much as possible.

A headlamp is also recommended for your packing list, so that you can find your way back to camp when the sun is setting.

Depending on which type of navigation method you prefer, this should be included. For example, a map and compass or a small battery powered navigation device. A knife can also be very useful with any camping setup.

This is because it can help with cutting meat and cooking, as well as being used for self-defense.

Other essentials that need to be included in any packing list include enough food and water to last the entire trip, plus extra in case of emergencies. Fire starters are also necessary when you are making a campfire, because it will take less time to light and heat enough to cook on.

Of course, shelter, clothing, and sleeping bags should also be thought about ahead of time.

Different Types Of Camping

Because there are so many styles of camping, it is worth thinking about the role that they can play in your overall experience.

Whether you would like to have access to a comfortable bed or if you prefer to go with the flow and have more flexibility, here is a look into some of the different types of camping.

Car Camping

Something that is becoming more popular is car camping. This involves making a temporary bed in your car and spending the night there. It can provide more shelter than a regular tent, but the main disadvantage is that it tends to be less comfortable than other types of camping.

Car camping is great if you do not have a booking in a campsite, because of the flexibility which it allows. However, the term can also refer to any camping arrangement where you are able to park next to your designated campsite.

This is ideal for many who have large tents because it allows them to pack plenty of supplies with fewer limitations. Stock up on supplies beforehand and make sure you have everything that you need to enjoy a peaceful camping trip.

Backpacking

Another popular type of camping is backpacking. This is great for the adventurous type, who want to spend more time hiking and exploring the wilderness.

These trips usually involve hike-in campsites which typically have limited facilities. For many, this adds to the exclusive feel of the trip. It can also be great for disconnecting from the outside world.

Backpacking camping involves having all the supplies needed in a backpack that is relatively easy to carry. Because of this, there tend to be minimal supplies used. This could include a lightweight tent and sleeping bag, or missing out on certain comforts for one night.

Glamping

On the other hand, you could choose to go glamping for a touch of luxury surrounded by the wilderness. Many people enjoy this form of camping because it allows them to relax and unwind after being in the busy modern world.

While this is the most expensive form of camping, it can allow your mind to truly switch off and feel at peace. For many, this is a great way to focus on what is important to them and feel more energized.

Glamping is usually done from small cabins, and they can have their own hot tubs or access to a lake. Other glamping sites include natural hot springs or even beach access.

There is a huge variety of glamping options and styles, and it is certainly worth looking into the available options within your area.

RV Camping

An RV can easily provide a compromise between camping in the wilderness and glamping. While it costs a little more to purchase or hire an RV, it is worth trying this camping style out to see if it is the right choice for you.

Some people head to campsites where they can stay in an RV, while others use them for long road trips.

This is because they can easily camp on the side of the road or anywhere that they can park in for the night. Consider hiring an RV during the summer for you and your friends to enjoy.

Tent Camping

The most traditional form of camping which is enjoyed by many involves using a tent. This is frequently done in campsites, but there are plenty of national parks where you can camp using a tent for a small fee or for free.

Make sure that you are leaving no trace when you leave a site, and that you are able to set up and pack away everything beforehand.

Some of the different styles of tents require different kinds of equipment and tools. These include pop-up tents, A-frame or ridge tents, tunnel tents, and car rooftop tents.

Dispersed Camping

Another type of camping is also known as boon docking or free camping. The aim of this is to find a place to camp that is free of charge, and it usually happens on public lands.

If you are looking for a place to do dispersed camping near you, then it is worth looking for sites that are run by the Bureau of Land Management or the National Forest Service.

Some campsites ask for a fee, and there can be complications if you are caught camping on private lands. Because of this, it is important to plan where to camp ahead of time.

Primitive Camping

For a more stripped back approach to camping, a primitive camping site could be suitable. This is because it involves few facilities, and most of these areas will provide a space for you to camp or set up your tent.

There tends to be a limit on the additional resources available on these sites, such as toilets. In fact, many primitive camping sites do not have restrooms or running water.

Where To Go

Because there are so many options for camping, there are so many possibilities on where and how you can camp.

Whether you want to explore your home state with a fresh set of eyes, or if you want to visit somewhere completely new, here are some of the best places to visit as a beginner camper.

Acadia National Park, Maine

For a great camping experience, head to Acadia National Park in Maine. It is known as the state’s natural jewel. There are 17 million acres of incredible scenery and pine forest to explore, and there is no doubt that you will find the perfect place for camping.

Not only can you enjoy the natural beauty of the forest, but you can also visit the many lakes, rivers, and streams that this national park has to offer. There are three camping sites to choose from, and many people enjoy hiking and exploring Acadia National Park on a regular basis.

Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York

If you live around New York, you can visit Minnewaska State Park Reserve which is 94 miles from the city. This park has rocky terrain that is worth exploring.

Not only can you hike and mountain bike through the park at your own pace, but you can also utilize the camping ground which can be found opposite the state park.

Thanks to it being 2,000 feet above sea level, Minnewaska State Park Reserve boasts some incredible views which are certain to take your breath away. Make sure you pack a camera!

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

For those that live in, or who are planning a road trip to Virginia, it is worth paying a visit to Shenandoah National Park. Visitors can get lost in the 500 miles of trails. There are also plenty of waterfalls and forested areas worth exploring.

This national park provides incredible views all year round, so it does not matter if you want to visit during the spring, or in the fall. There are five campgrounds to choose from, as well as an 8-mile hike up Old Rag Mountain.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Camping near the beach is a must when you visit this national park. Located in Maryland, Assateague Island National Seashore can be found nine miles from Ocean City. It is a surfer’s paradise, with campgrounds located in the middle of it all.

Enjoy the 37 miles of beaches from this incredible campsite. Visitors can also paddleboard, kayak, go crab fishing, and spot wild horses.

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

If you want to explore Fort Jefferson or admire one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida has you covered.

There are plenty of resources to hire snorkeling equipment and areas to explore, that you won’t be sat idle when you visit this national park. Not to mention there is a highly rated campground nearby.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Those that want to truly slow down and appreciate the natural beauty of the world we live in should pay a visit to Big Bend National Park in Texas. The clarity of the night’s sky alone is worth booking a trip, and you will be able to lose hours searching for the different constellations.

There is plenty of back country camping available, as well as three main campsites to choose from. Explore the desert trails that will lead you to mountains and rivers. Not only that, but visitors can enjoy rafting, kayaking, and canoeing along the Rio Grande.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Despite being one of the most commonly overlooked areas for camping, Arkansas has a range of incredible scenery to offer. As well as rich countryside, lakes, and streams, there are nine beaches to explore.

Ozark National Forest is certainly worth visiting, as there are several campsites for tents and RVs to choose from. Enjoy the 400 miles of hiking trails and make sure that you take in the wonderful views.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

If you are up for a challenge, the rough South Dakota weather is worth enduring for the gorgeous rock formations at Badlands National Park. Visitors can choose from two campsites with different available facilities, and there are so many stunning views to enjoy.

Make sure to take a peek at the ancient fossils, the prairies, and the different trails that explore the area.

Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho

Another place with rough weather that is worth visiting is Sawtooth National Forest located in Idaho. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains and choose from the many camping grounds available in the area.

Glacier National Park, Montana

If you are interested in seeing naturally formed glaciers, then Glacier National Park is the place to be. Montana has an incredible amount of breathtaking scenery, from forests and mountains to meadows.

Not only that, but there are many campsites to stay in. Enjoy the 700 miles of scenic trails when you visit this national park.

Top Tips

Wear Durable And Quick Drying Clothing

Don’t forget that you will need to consider your clothing when you are planning a camping trip. Wearing lightweight layers is recommended because they tend to be made from quick drying fabric.

There is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting in cold, wet clothes and knowing that you do not have anything dry to wear.

Because of this, you should always pack one change of clothes for each day that you are camping, plus one extra. Your clothes should also be durable as well, so that they can withstand regular movement and the occasional catch.

Camping is so much more enjoyable when you are wearing dry clothing that is flexible, breathable, and dry. These layers are also lightweight, so they won’t take up too much space in your backpack.

Do Your Research

Of course, you should always take the time to do your research on the campsite and any national parks in the area. Consider the weather predictions and how that will affect the type of clothing you are packing.

Likewise, you should research the grocery stores on the way, and where you can park if you plan on driving to a campsite.

Make Note Of Any Amenities At Your Campsite

This can help you feel more prepared when you are creating your packing list for camping. Make sure you pack soap and body wash if you plan to use the campsite’s facilities. Similarly, it is important to account for any amenities that are not available at your campsite.

For example, being further from a bathroom may require additional research such as where the closest one is, or how you can create a makeshift toilet if necessary. It is always worth packing extra rolls of toilet paper, regardless of how you are camping.

Bring Sealable Food Storage

Avoid getting bugs on your food and stop larger creatures from stealing your food with sealable food storage. You can use Tupperware containers, sealable bags, or cling wrap. Whatever you decide to use, it is essential to keep your food contained as much as possible.

This includes packing sandwiches for a long hike, or ingredients for cooking on a campfire.

Only Pack The Essentials

It is so easy to over pack, especially when you are heading into the wilderness. However, this can make it difficult to carry everything at once.

While this isn’t necessarily an issue for those that can park next to their camping area, it can be restrictive when you are hiking or planning to camp in the wilderness.

Make sure you can move easily with your backpack securely on, and that you are sticking to your packing list with just the essentials.

Arrive In The Daylight

So many people make this mistake, and it is easy to lose track of time when you are traveling to a campsite or spending time with your friends. Make sure you arrive at the campsite when the sun is still up, so that you don’t have to use up the batteries on your flashlight.

Setting up a tent is challenging, but it is even more difficult when it is dark. Try to plan ahead and check when the sun is expected to set on your chosen day.

Then, you can aim to arrive during the daylight so that you can understand where everything is and easily assemble your camping setup.

Find A Flat Spot To Pitch Your Tent

Another reason why you should arrive during the daylight is so that you can find a flat spot for your tent. This can make it significantly easier to rest at the end of the day, and to get comfortable.

Most RVs and other vehicles have their own leveling equipment, but it is much more challenging with a tent. This is especially true when you are attempting to camp in the wilderness, and not in a campsite.

Make sure you are allowing time to get this right once you have reached the desired camping spot.

Set Your Tent Up Away From The Cooking Area

It is so easy to set your tent alight when cooking, that this should be avoided as much as possible. Make sure you are setting up your cooking area away from your tent, so that you can avoid any damage done to your tent in the future.

The material that tents are made out of is surprisingly flammable, which does not usually pair well with cooking on an open flame or a small gas stove.

Cook Simple Meals

There is no reason why you should prepare a complex meal when you are camping. This only makes more work for you as well as preparation and dishes to clean. Try and keep your meals as simple as possible, and do some of the preparation ahead of time if possible.

This could include dicing and seasoning meat and sealing it in a freezer bag, or purchasing tinned food such as beans which are a great protein source and easy to heat up.

Cook Before Sundown

As well as setting up your tent before the sun goes down, you should aim to cook while you have the daylight. This makes it much easier to enjoy the food before the outside temperature drops, and it is harder to see.

Practice Fire Safety

Because the majority of camping involves cooking on a campfire or using an open flame, it is worth practicing fire safety beforehand. This can allow you to know what you should do if something goes wrong.

Make sure you are prepared as much as possible in order to prevent accidents from happening.

Know How To Purify Water

It’s no secret that bottles of water can be very heavy, especially if you are hiking with multiple in your backpack. Make this easier by understanding how you can purify water.

There are several methods to choose from that involve filtration, and it is worth learning more about so that you don’t have to carry as much water with you when you are camping.

Check The Weather Forecast Before You Go

The air pressure and weather can determine how you find camping, especially if you are a beginner. Make sure you are heading out during a dry time of year, and that you are not heading directly into a storm or hurricane.

Bring Cooking Gear

Having somewhere to store your food such as a cooling box is frequently overlooked. Make sure you are using one, and that you do not forget your camping stove for cooking food on. Some campsites do not permit campfires, so these are ideal solutions.

Summary

Camping is an incredibly immersive experience that can allow you to forget about certain stressors from everyday life. Being able to surround yourself with mother nature and enjoying the outdoors is highly rewarding.

It is definitely worth making the necessary preparations for camping today!

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