Camping Preparations 101 For Beginner’s – A Starter Guide

Marwa Grimes

Are you wanting to try your hand at hiking and camping? Does the sound of the great outdoors, the smell of fresh air, the smell and sound of a campfire under the stars sound appealing to you? Will this be your first camping trip? Well then maybe this article can be of some useful information.

First of all, one of the most important things to do before planning your camping or hiking trip is to let someone know at home or at work details of where you plan to camp or hike, how long you will be gone and any other details about your trip that you can leave that will be helpful in the event of an emergency or you fail to return when you said you would.

So now plan your trip. Where will you go? How do you learn about the area you plan to hike and camp into? Where can I get a map? Make sure you get a map for the area you plan to hike or camp in. Most U.S. Forestry Centers carry free maps of wilderness areas. You can also find maps online and at most outdoor stores. You will also want to check the weather of your camping location and plan accordingly.

So what will I need? What kind of equipment will you need?

Camping requires equipment, and the basic equipment is the same for seasoned experts or those just starting out. While there is plenty of high-quality camping equipment to make your stay outdoors a lot more comfortable, most of these items aren’t necessary, especially for beginners. Choose good quality equipment, but don’t blow your budget buying the most expensive gear. Remember that costly doesn’t always mean top quality.

Here is some basic gear you’ll need for your trip:

Tents: Decide how many people will be sleeping in one tent. You may want to have one tent for adults and one for children if you will be camping with the whole family. For a more comfortable arrangement, purchase a tent that will hold two more people than the number you expect to have sleeping inside. See my Article on camping tents for more information.

Sleeping bags: Sleeping bags are graded for temperature and come in different shapes and sizes. Choose sleeping bags that are appropriate for the season and that have a comfortable size. See my Article on tents and sleeping bags for more information on these pieces of camping gear.

Cooking and meal equipment: A small, portable propane stove is very handy and makes mealtime as easy as if you were cooking in your own kitchen. You can also purchase a barbecue or find a stove that has both burners and grill. Choose washable dishes and utensils to be environmentally conscious. Don’t forget two plastic bins for washing up!

Coolers and food storage: Choose coolers big enough to allow for blocks of ice. It’s a good idea to have two separate coolers in different sizes as well, one for frozen foods and one for refrigerated foods. Select coolers with a snap-lock lid and handles. Purchase plastic bins to hold food that doesn’t require refrigeration.

Luggage: The best luggage for camping is a cloth bag like as a hockey bag. Stiff-sided luggage doesn’t hold as much clothing and takes up space.

Extras: Buy two tarps – one to use as a ground sheet underneath your tent and one to shelter the tent in the case of rain. Bring some rope for a makeshift clothesline. A nighttime lantern is always handy, especially for trips to the bathroom. You’ll also need a basic survival kit, a cell phone, and a flashlight in case of emergencies. If you’re going on a trip that lasts more than two nights and three days, bring biodegradable soap and shampoo.

When considering extra items to bring, try to think of functional items that fit your lifestyle like as sunscreen, bug spray, a pair of extra sandals, and a doormat for entry to your tent. Browse the aisles of the sporting goods section to determine what other items would be good to bring along.

Don’t get caught up with gadgets and unnecessary items. They’ll just take up space and probably won’t be used more than once, if at all.

Clothing and Packing

Determine how many days you are going camping, determine how many sets of clothes you will need for that period, and then cut that number in half. Pack only the necessities, minimal lgear is key to a great camping trip experience. Hauling, packing, storing, and trying to fit everything in the car before you leave for your trip and when it’s time to come home and unload it all is no fun at all. When you pack, fold each piece of clothing – and then roll it up. Rolled clothing takes up less space than stacked, folded clothing.


Camping involves plenty of planning, and that goes for food planning too. Prepare your menu ahead of time, and have a menu for each meal that includes every item you’ll need. The more detail you have on your menu, the better prepared you’ll be to shop for exactly what you require, no more and no less.

Choose supper meals that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze, and freeze as much as you can in plastic bags to save space. The advantage of freezing food is that you will have “ice” ready for your cooler and not have to buy as many blocks of ice, and the food can safely defrost in the cooler. If it’s frozen tight and you’re planning on eating it that night, transfer the food from your frozen food cooler to the fresh produce cooler. Alternatively, thaw it out by placing the plastic bag in a bucket of cold water.

It’s a good idea to prepare food you can freeze a couple of weeks ahead of time and the rest of the food the day before you leave. Remember, the more you can prepare at home, the less time you’ll have to put into cooking while you camp.

There are tons of other camping tips for beginners, but most camping trips involve common sense, creativity, and keeping calm when things get stressful. Camping is experience you have to try at least once. If all goes well, you will probably want do to it year after year!

A camping trip can be a fun and educational vacation for the whole family. However, for that to be a reality, it’s essential for every family member to be aware of some general and useful rules to follow. Camping tips can keep you from getting frustrated and will make the experience more fun for everyone, especially if you have smaller children. Here are some camping tips you need to consider before you leave:

1. Choose your tent wisely

When choosing a tent the most important things to keep in mind are size, weight and weather rating.

2. Consider pitch position.

When you pitch a tent, one of the best tips to remember is to choose the location very wisely. If you can, try not to sleep on a slope. Think about where the sun comes up, and goes down. Think about some shelter in the day, it’s often useful to have trees on one side of you to provide some natural protection from the heat, or any foraging animals that may decide your tent looks interesting enough to explore. If you plan to have an open fire, be sure that the flames won’t reach any overhanging canopy of branches that could trigger a fire. Take note and follow any posted warning signs and look for animal tracks on the ground. Do not disrupt mother nature.

3. Rent the instructions!

An obvious but often overlooked camping tip is to read the instructions to learn how to put your tent up before you even go off on your camping trip. If you have a new tent, which you haven’t used yet, and are unfamiliar with how to put it up, it’s a good idea to pitch the tent in your back yard for practice. When you do this see if each pole is marked and if not, take some masking tape and label each piece in a manner that it is foolproof. Mark pole 1 a-b, pole 2 b-c, pole 3 c-d and so on. Also if you return from your trip and your tent is wet, it is a good idea to set it up in the back yard and let it dry out before storing for your next trip.

5. Deal with your food needs appropriately.

You may not know the area you will be camping in very well and therefore not know what shops if any are in the local vicinity. If this is the case, try to take some basic food items with you, so that if you are unable to obtain any extra food, no one will go hungry. If you are planning on cooking all your own meals, make sure the gas cylinders are full, and you have packed everything you need to make meals from scratch. Don’t forget the matches and remember to keep them dry! When you leave your campsite, make sure that all food is out of reach of wildlife. They will rip open boxes and climb trees to reach food if they really want it! It’s a good idea to carry your food in a plastic container so that it will be kept safe, especially if you’ll be camping in areas where there are larger animals, like bears. Keeping the food out of site (and smell) will prevent these dangerous creatures from being lured to your campsite. If you are camping in a location where there are bears it is imperative to use bear boxes. Bears can rip a car apart looking for food and can easily open a cooler and eat its contents if left out overnight.

6. Stay organized.

Be neat, tidy and organized inside of your tent and outside on the campgrounds. Although too much of a routine can be bothersome, having a few general rules is one of those camping tips which prove invaluable in the long term. Simple things such as not allowing dirty shoes inside the tent will not only make the camping trip a cleaner and more enjoyable experience, but also protect the tent’s material making it last longer than it otherwise might. Assign everything a place inside the tent. Also have specific places where things that are often needed can be found so that you aren’t fumbling in the dark and waking others looking for a flashlight or spending hours hunting for the matches.

7. Leave no trace.

Once your camping trip is at an end, make sure you tidy up after yourself, leaving no trace you were even there. If using a private or public campsite, this is essential, since people arriving will be arrive to use the same spot after you’ve left.

8. Prepare for next time.

You should be preparing for your next camping trip from the moment you end the current one. This means packing away all your equipment, including the tent in a way that makes it easy and simple to start the next camping trip. Make sure the tent goes away dry (if it’s raining as you pack up, air the tent out once you get home) and clean so that it’s suitable to use without any fuss in future. As you pack away, make a note of any equipment you may need to buy, such as new pegs or a replacement gas bottle. Also make a note as to items that need to be repaired.

Camping Code of Ethics

While traveling to your favorite camping spot, stay on designated roads and trails. It is a good idea to follow best practices for negotiating terrain for your type of travel. Don’t disturb the natural habitat by creating new routes or expanding on an existing trail. When you come to a stream, only cross at fords where the road or trail crosses the stream. When you come to a posted sign, comply with all the signs and barriers, they are there for a reason. It is always a good idea to go camping with two or three campers. Traveling solo can leave you vulnerable just in case you have an accident or breakdown. Always leave details with someone at home before leaving as to; where you are planning to go camping, how long you plan to be gone, and any other details that could be helpful in the event of an emergency or if you do not return when you planned. Respect the rights of others including private property owners and all recreational trail users, campers and others to allow them to enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. Be considerate of others on the road, trail, or campground.

Keep noise to a minimum especially in the early morning and evening hours. Be considerate of other campers’ privacy, keep your distance and avoid traveling through their campsites.

Camping supplies in natural colors blend with natural surroundings and are less intrusive to other campers’ experiences.

Leave gates as you find them.

If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner.

When driving yield to horses, hikers, and bikers.

Educate yourself by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes, and knowing how to use and operate your equipment safely.

Obtain a map of your destination and determine which areas are open to your type of travel.

Make a realistic plan, and stick to it. Always tell someone of your travel plans.

Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements.

Check the weather forecast for your destination. Plan clothing, equipment, and supplies accordingly. Carry a compass or a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit and know how to use them. Prepare for the unexpected by packing emergency items. Avoid sensitive areas such as meadows, lake shores, wetlands and streams, unless on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitat and sensitive soils from damage.

Other sensitive habitats to avoid unless on designated routes include cryptobiotic soils of the desert, tundra, and seasonal nesting or breeding areas. Avoid disturbing historical, archaeological, and paleontological sites. Avoid “spooking” livestock and wildlife you encounter and keep your distance. Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated Wilderness. Do your part by leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species, restoring degraded areas, and joining a local enthusiast organization. Pack out what you pack in.

Carry a trash bag and pick up litter left by others.

Repackage snacks and food in baggies. This reduces weight and amount of trash to carry out.

Whenever possible, use existing campsites. Camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Do not dig trenches around tents. Camp a least 200 feet from water, trails, and other campsites. For cooking, use a camp stove. They are always preferable to a campfire in terms of impact on the land. Observe all fire restrictions. If you must build a fire use existing fire rings, build a mound fire or use a fire pan. For campfires, use only fallen timber. Gather firewood well away from your camp. Do not cut standing trees. Let your fire burn down to a fine ash. Ensure your fire is completely extinguished. Do not wash in steams and lakes. Detergents, toothpaste and soap harm fish and other aquatic life. Wash 200 feet away from streams and lakes. Scatter gray water so it filters through the soil. In areas without toilets, use a portable latrine if possible and pack out your waste, otherwise it’s necessary to bury your waste. Human waste should be disposed of in a shallow hole (6″-8″ deep) at least 200 feet from water sources, campsites, or trails. Cover and disguise the hole with natural materials. It is recommended to pack out your toilet paper. High use areas may have other restrictions so check with a land manager.

Hopefully this was useful camping information. Enjoy the great outdoors and please leave it the great outdoors when you pack up and go home.

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