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24 Tips & Things to Know Before You Go Camping

Things to Know Before You Go Camping_benefits of being a travel agent
(Last Updated On: September 3, 2023)

What are the things to know before you go camping for the first time? Camping, an extraordinary way to unwind, commune with nature, and embark on an adventure, often doesn’t unfold flawlessly on your maiden voyage. Drawing from years of trial-and-error camping across the globe, even in the icy climes of Antarctica, we’ve compiled a treasure trove of camping wisdom. These insights are designed to enhance your outdoor experience, making it more comfortable, enjoyable, and memorable.

Within this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the essentials of camping, elaborate on meal planning, offer guidance on camp setup, and much more. So, prepare to chart your next camping expedition with our assistance.

Camping, undoubtedly one of the finest avenues to immerse oneself in the great outdoors, can seem daunting, particularly for beginners. We’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge over years of camping, spanning from car camping to venturing into the backcountry. Today, we’re thrilled to share an array of camping tips and tricks to elevate your next camping escapade into an immensely enjoyable experience.

If you’re new to tent camping, it’s advisable to peruse our camping gear list, ensuring you bring along the essentials that can optimize your camping journeys.

24 Tips & Things to Know Before You Go Camping

The cornerstone of any successful camping sojourn is meticulous planning. It’s not a spur-of-the-moment activity where you can simply hop in your car and take off. You must factor in elements such as weather conditions and the time of year. Moreover, unless you intend to venture into the backcountry, booking a campground well in advance is often essential. Diligent planning at this stage significantly streamlines your camping experience, minimizing stress and potential hiccups.

1. Determining Your Camping Style

Camping experiences can be categorized into different styles, and it’s essential to discern which aligns with your preferences. Your chosen style will invariably shape your camping adventure:

Tent Camping: This is the most widespread form of camping, typically involving setting up camp in a tent at a campground or a national park, complete with facilities such as bathrooms and water sources.

Car Camping: Widely popular in North America, car camping allows you to drive your vehicle directly to the campsite, simplifying the setup. Accommodations range from tent camping on the ground to rooftop camping or even sleeping in the back of an SUV with an inflatable mattress.

Camping accessories

Trailer or Camper: Campervan travel has gained popularity, offering the convenience of towing a camper or driving a campervan with all amenities onboard.

Backcountry Camping: Reserved for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, this entails hiking to your campsite, carrying all gear, food, and water. There are no facilities, making it the choice for those with some experience.

2. Selecting the Ideal Campground

Choosing the right campground is crucial, and advance planning is highly recommended. When making this decision, several factors come into play:

Optimal Time of Year: Determine whether the high or low season suits your preferences.

Available Amenities: Consider factors like the availability of washrooms, running water, fire pits, or the need for a camp stove or picnic table.

Campground Regulations: Check for any regulations, including fire policies or pet allowances.

Booking Window: Be aware of how far in advance you need to book your desired campsite.

3. Picking the Perfect Campsite

Whether camping in a National Park or a designated campground, selecting an excellent campsite can elevate your experience:

Scenic Views or Proximity to Water: Sites with breathtaking vistas or proximity to water bodies typically offer more privacy and a serene ambiance.

Distance from Bathrooms: If your campground features washrooms, choose a site at a comfortable distance, particularly if you retire early or are sensitive to noise.

Shade in Summer: For summer camping, seek sites shaded by trees to escape the scorching morning sun that can turn your tent into an oven.

4. Assembling the Ideal Camping Gear

The world of camping gear is a realm where personal preferences, comfort levels, and budgets intermingle, resulting in a uniquely tailored selection for every adventurer. Below, we proffer recommendations for essential camping gear, encompassing your shelter, sleeping apparatus, and more.

The Shelter: Tent

Setting up camp, a ritual in camping

The tent, the quintessential cornerstone of camping gear, warrants careful consideration and, oftentimes, a more substantial investment. It stands as your primary bulwark against the elements, making durability paramount. Opting for a 3-season tent is advised, as it suits most camping scenarios, excluding the frosty rigors of winter.

For two campers, a three-person tent offers a comfortable, roomier alternative. This approach, stepping up the size by one, applies unless you’re embarking on a rigorous backcountry expedition that mandates weight reduction.

For car campers, the choice of tent size is virtually unrestricted, offering ample space to stand and move around freely.
Backpackers, who carry all their gear, lean toward lightweight and compact options.

If you already possess a tent, perform a thorough assessment. Inspect the rain fly for leaks, waterproof the seams, and consider acquiring sealant for zippers. Additionally, ensure you’re equipped with a tent repair kit, replete with patches for any potential leaks or tears.

The Sleeping Sanctuary: Sleeping Bag

A reliable sleeping bag is non-negotiable

Following the tent, your sleeping bag holds a pivotal position. It’s another facet where you shouldn’t cut corners, especially if warmth is a priority. Sleeping bags primarily rely on two types of insulation: down and synthetic. Down-filled sleeping bags boast a superior weight-to-insulation ratio compared to their synthetic counterparts. If weight optimization ranks high on your list, down is your best bet. However, for casual weekend camping, synthetic options offer cost-effective alternatives.

The Comfort Bridge: Sleeping Pad

The comfort divide – a sleeping pad bridges the gap

A comfortable night’s rest versus an uncomfortable one hinges significantly on your choice of a sleeping pad. This piece of gear sits between you and the ground, furnishing both cushioning and insulation. The effectiveness of these pads is gauged through R-Values, which elucidate their comfort and warmth attributes. Consider a pad with an R-value ranging from 2.5 to 3.5, factoring in weight constraints and the space available in your backpack.

Our personal choice is an inflatable sleeping pad from Thermarest. Sports Apparel & Accessories·Sports, Exercise Equipment·Outdoors & Recreation·Accessories & Services. Regardless of the external temperature, it assures us a warm and comfortable night’s sleep.

Outdoor Living and Shelter

Preparation extends to anticipating inclement weather. Nighttime temperatures can plummet, necessitating layered clothing and waterproof attire. When car camping, it’s prudent to include a spacious tarp in your gear. This versatile piece can be rigged to nearby trees, creating a protective canopy in the event of a sudden downpour. It’s your ticket to enjoying the mesmerizing sound of raindrops, a far more appealing option than being confined to a cramped tent throughout the night.

Illumination: Headlamp and Lanterns

When night falls during your camping escapade, darkness envelops the outdoors more comprehensively than in an urban setting, necessitating more than your smartphone’s feeble glow. A camping lantern is an invaluable companion on your trips. While the campfire provides a measure of illumination, the lantern becomes indispensable for activities like card games or reading.

A headlamp is an unequivocal must-have in your camping arsenal. Its hands-free operation facilitates chores such as tidying up, packing, or replenishing the campfire with wood, making your camping experience infinitely more convenient.

5. Mastering Camp Setup: Preparatory Practice

Embarking on a camping expedition is a pursuit bathed in anticipation. Yet, there’s nothing more disheartening than arriving at your campsite only to grapple with the perplexities of setting up your gear. Alleviating camping-related stress is achievable, and one crucial method is practicing the camp setup at home. This might sound unusual, especially for newcomers or those rekindling their camping adventures, but this prelude can serve as a vital reminder of the little details that might have escaped memory.

6. Proficiency in Tent Assembly

A disheartening scenario often unfolds at campsites when individuals attempt to set up their tents for the first time. This can be a frustrating initiation, potentially casting a negative pall over the entire weekend. To preempt such a situation, we urge you to familiarize yourself with your tent’s setup process. Go through the motions a few times before your journey.

Once your tent is pitched, step inside and gauge its comfort. Consider factors like optimizing the interior layout: where to stow your backpacks and gear, where to keep your flashlight for those midnight bathroom excursions, and, speaking of which, don’t overlook the importance of toilet paper. What items should be packed away, and what should remain within arm’s reach during the night? The more time you spend within your tent, the more ingenious ideas will emerge to enhance your camping experience.

7. Command of Your Camp Stove

Another crucial skill to hone in advance is the operation of your camp stove. It’s far from enjoyable when hunger or the need for a warm beverage strikes, only to find yourself flummoxed by your stove’s controls. Familiarize yourself with the instructions accompanying your camp stove, and practice cooking meals and boiling water to preempt any hiccups upon returning from the trail, ravenous for sustenance. For our camping needs, this camp stove comes highly recommended.

Remember that a good car camping or comfort camping stove is a valuable asset, so don’t forget to consult our comprehensive camping checklist for cooking essentials and camping utensils.

8. Vigilance with Headlamp and Lantern Batteries

Few things match the frustration of arriving at your campsite, only to discover that the batteries powering your headlamp or lantern have been depleted. A prudent step is to verify their condition before embarking on your camping journey. If you have rechargeable headlamps, consider keeping a power brick on hand for recharging in the field, should the need arise.

Test these devices at night to assess the state of their batteries. Here’s a highly recommended headlamp for your camping needs.

9. Setting Up Your Campsite for Comfort

When you reach your campsite, meticulous planning is key. Begin by selecting level terrain while scrutinizing for any potential sleep-disrupting obstacles such as rocks, sticks, or roots. Opt for a site with ample tree cover, a boon for securing tarps and hanging your gear. We rely on a pegless clothesline to dry our bathing suits and towels.

We habitually utilize our tent’s fly as a vestibule to store our packs, preferring not to keep them within the tent. Instead, we position them just outside the zipper doors beneath the protective vestibule. Don’t forget to include a tarp or footprint under your tent. While it may increase the temperature slightly, we simply leave the fly’s doors ajar to ensure adequate ventilation.

10. Culinary Prowess: Meal Preparation and Planning

In the nascent stages of our camping adventures, we didn’t pay due attention to meal preparation for wellness. A quick stop at the store for hot dogs and marshmallows seemed like a simple solution for campfire cuisine. However, this approach proved suboptimal. As we gained experience, we discovered that diligent food preparation significantly elevates the camping culinary experience.

Breakfast, too, deserves special attention. Oatmeal is an excellent choice, complemented by the delight of French Press coffee. Just add water!

And if you prefer eggs in the morning, a useful hack is to pre-crack your eggs and store them in a water bottle. This eliminates the mess of dealing with eggshells at the campsite. Personally, we refrain from cooking over the campfire, reserving it for s’mores and hot dogs. Instead, we employ a multi-fuel camp stove for culinary endeavors.

11. Crafting a Camp Kitchen and Lounging Haven

A tent, while providing shelter, isn’t the abode you’ll want to confine yourself to throughout the evening. To ensure your outdoor experience is complete with comfort, arranging a designated kitchen and sitting area becomes imperative. Learn from our past mishap when camping across Spain; neglecting camp chairs resulted in a rather earthy seating arrangement. Investing in foldable camp chairs rectifies this oversight. While picnic tables at campsites are convenient, they may not provide the cozy campfire ambiance that you crave.

Pro Tip: Upon arriving at your campsite, promptly suspend a tarp overhead. This multitasking shield offers respite from rain showers and shelter from the sun’s relentless rays. We usually drape our tarp over the dining area, creating a welcoming canopy.

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12. Confronting the Insect Challenge

Many seasoned campers opt to bring along a screened gazebo, particularly when car camping. It’s a splendid addition to your campsite, encompassing the picnic table and providing an insect-free zone for dining and relaxation. If your camping locale plays host to pesky mosquitoes and relentless black flies, we wholeheartedly endorse the use of bug jackets. Moreover, ensure your first aid kit includes bug spray and after-bite remedies to both ward off the bugs and soothe any discomfort or swelling from bites.

Pro Tip: Exercise vigilance when it comes to your tent’s zipper. Promptly seal it upon entering or exiting to prevent an influx of uninvited insects.

13. Mastering the Art of Campfires

The quintessence of camping often materializes in the form of a crackling campfire. Yet, in this age, the skill of building one is something many lack. Prior to embarking on your camping excursion, acquaint yourself with the fine art of kindling a campfire.

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Lighters: Ensure you have multiple fire-starting mechanisms on hand. Matches can succumb to moisture, and lighters can sometimes be finicky. A few backup options for both come in handy.

Firewood: The key here is dry wood. Damp or waterlogged logs can lead to smoldering, underwhelming fires. When procuring firewood, verify its dryness.

Tinder/Firestarter: Opt for materials that ignite rapidly, such as dry leaves or pine needles. Newspaper serves as an excellent option. Alternatively, acquire a firestarter when purchasing your firewood.

Kindling: When acquiring firewood, remember to obtain small strips of wood, known as kindling. These are instrumental in igniting your larger logs.

Log Placement: To construct a successful fire, arranging your firestarter, kindling, and logs in the correct configuration is vital. Start with the tinder in the middle, then form a teepee shape with your kindling. Once it’s alight and robust, gradually introduce the logs to the fire. This teepee method is one of the simplest ways to ignite a fire.

Consider having a poker handy for adjusting the logs, especially if you plan to use the fire for cooking. We pack leather work gloves for campsite activities. Remember to extinguish the campfire completely with water when you’re ready to sleep or leave the site.

Pro Tip: Cotton balls coated in Vaseline serve as exceptional fire starters.

14. Water Wisdom

While many campgrounds furnish hoses and sinks for washing and obtaining water, it’s prudent to tote a large several-gallon water jug for cooking and drinking. Collapsible jugs for cooking and insulated containers to maintain water temperature offer practicality. If you’re car camping, ensure your cooler is stocked with ice.

For backcountry camping, equip yourself with a water purification system like a Steripen. This enables safe drinking by treating water from streams, rivers, and lakes. Carry a Nalgene bottle for refills instead of cups. And for coffee aficionados, insulated travel mugs are a cherished companion.

15. Tent TLC: Ensuring Dryness and Durability

After your camping stint, don’t overlook the necessity of tending to your tent. Ensure it’s thoroughly dried before packing it up. In the event of time constraints, unpack it once you return home, allowing it to air out. Be diligent about sweeping out the tent to eliminate any debris; even small twigs or rocks can provoke holes. By caring for your tent conscientiously, you extend its lifespan considerably.

16. Elevating Outdoor Dining with Spices and Condiments

Picture this: you’re in the midst of nature, the campfire crackles, and you’re ready to savor a meal beneath the starry canopy. Sports Apparel & Accessories·Sports, Exercise Equipment·Outdoors & Recreation·Accessories & Services. Why settle for bland camping fare? Elevate your outdoor culinary adventures with a dash of creativity.

You don’t need to haul an entire kitchen into the woods, but a few carefully chosen spices and condiments can transform your meals. Think of it as nature’s seasoning to make your campfire cooking extraordinary.

Compact pill containers are ingenious for stashing your favorite spices in compact spaces. Alternatively, consider repurposing tiny tic-tac packets or invest in a dedicated Six Spice Camping shaker, specially designed for adventurers who appreciate flavor even in the wild.

17. The Quest to Avoid Midnight Toe-Stubbing

Picture a serene moonlit night at your campsite, where stars blanket the sky, and a gentle breeze rustles the leaves. It’s the epitome of tranquility until an unexpected obstacle – tent pegs hidden in the shadows – becomes your late-night nemesis.

But fret not, for there’s a simple solution to this nocturnal conundrum. Gather sturdy rocks and strategically position them over your tent pegs. This serves a dual purpose – guarding your toes during midnight strolls and fortifying your tent’s stability for a secure night’s slumber.

18. Embracing the Night’s Embrace: The Hot Water Bottle

Bid farewell to the chill of the night with a humble yet remarkably effective camping companion: the hot water bottle. Before you slip into your sleeping bag, fill it with warm water, nestle it lovingly within your sleeping cocoon, and relish the cocoon of warmth it provides. Alternatively, fill your trusty Nalgene bottle with boiling water and place it strategically in your tent, ensuring a cozy night’s rest even when the temperatures dip.

19. Campsite Comfort: The Versatile Crocs

Camp life is all about comfort, even when you step outside your tent. Enter Crocs, the quintessential outdoor footwear. They epitomize ease – effortlessly slipped on and off as you transition between the cozy confines of your tent and the rugged terrain beyond. Robust enough to shield your feet from unexpected encounters with nature’s obstacles, they are the embodiment of campsite comfort.

Camping accessories

20. Crafting Natural Defense: DIY Mosquito Repellent

The serenity of a campfire’s glow can swiftly turn into a mosquito-infested nightmare. Those stealthy buzzers can put a damper on your outdoor soirée. But nature provides a remedy to thwart their advances. Harness the power of natural ingredients by concocting your own mosquito repellent. Combine the zest of lemon with the invigorating scent of eucalyptus, creating a fragrant shield that deters these bothersome insects.

To bolster your defenses, consider packing sprigs of sage to burn around your campfire, adding an extra layer of protection against the mosquito onslaught.

21. Innovative Ice Management

The logistics of ice can be a campsite conundrum, with its mess and space constraints. But fear not, there’s an ingenious solution to keep your perishables fresh and your hydration crisp. Before embarking on your outdoor adventure, seize your water jugs and allow them to succumb to the freezer’s frosty grasp. Once frozen, these makeshift ice packs pull double duty – preserving your food’s freshness and transforming into a source of refreshing, ice-cold water as they slowly thaw.

22. Embracing Nighttime Warmth: Hats and Socks

Camping beneath the starlit expanse can bring unexpectedly chilly nights. Shield yourself from the cold embrace of the outdoors by packing a warm hat and insulating socks. For an additional layer of warmth, consider draping a versatile buff around your neck. When temperatures plummet, these seemingly modest additions become your sanctuary, cocooning your sleeping quarters in a blanket of coziness.

23. Hygiene on the Go: Wipes and Sanitizer

Amidst the rugged beauty of nature, maintaining cleanliness can be a challenge. Sinks and soap may be luxuries you don’t always find. Sports Apparel & Accessories·Sports, Exercise Equipment·Outdoors & Recreation·Accessories & Services. That’s where your stash of hand wipes and hand sanitizer comes to the rescue, ensuring pristine hands even in the most remote camping locales.

24. Organization Simplified: Bins and Sacks

Amidst the untamed wilderness, order becomes your ally. Master the art of staying organized while camping by employing sturdy storage bins. These versatile containers do double duty, serving as makeshift tables for dining and meal preparation. Allocate one for your food provisions and another for your utensils, plates, and cookware.

24 Tips & Things to Know Before You Go Camping

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