There’s nothing better than a clear night sky full of stars and an evening spent around the campfire roasting marshmallows with a few good friends. Everyone has their own camping style, from laid back and restful to daring and energetic. Either way, camping is an unforgettable experience.
Planning out your first camping trip can be a little intimidating. Sure, you’ll need to do some planning and get your hands on the right gear for your trip to be successful. But that doesn’t mean it has to cost a lot of money or be super complicated. Once you’ve got some basic skills and know-how, you’ll be ready to make memories with your family for years to come.
The whole idea of camping is to set up a temporary residence outdoors. Since your “residence” will be your tent, we’ll start by discussing how to choose the best tent for your first camping adventure.
There are two key things to consider when selecting your tent. The first one is the size. Ultra-light tents are great for backpacking and adventure camping, but a larger 6 person tent will have room for several adults to hang out in. The second thing to consider is the quality of the tent. Never rely on a low-quality tent because it will be your only shelter from the wind, rain, and cold while you’re out in the woods. Arrive Outdoors has premium tents that will protect you from the wind and rain, and they’re available in all sizes.
When you get to your campsite, find a level spot to set up your tent where rainwater is not likely to puddle. If you’re staying at a public campground, they will usually have the best place marked out for you. Before you put your tent up, remove any rocks, twigs, or other pointy objects from the area. The last thing you want is to have a stick poking you through your sleeping bag all night.
Choosing the right sleeping bag is every bit as important as choosing the right tent. The most important thing to look at is the temperature rating. Choose your sleeping bag according to the temperatures you’re expecting on your trip. Arrive Outdoors has high-quality sleeping bags available in a wide range of temperature ratings for kids and adults. Placing a Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad under your sleeping bag will significantly increase your comfort level and keep you up off the cold ground.
Your campsite will be your home away from home for the duration of your trip, and there’s no reason it can’t be comfortable. Obviously, you can’t bring along your living room couch, but you should be sure to have a Helinox Chair for each member of your group. We love these chairs because they’re super comfortable, easy to set up, and very lightweight. A camp table will give you a clean place to eat, prepare food, and play a game of cards by the campfire.
One thing you’re going to find out pretty quick is that you really can’t bring too many light sources with you on a camping trip. We recommend that you bring one or two Black Diamond Apollo Lanterns for use around the campsite and inside your tent. Each person in your group should also have a Black Diamond Spot Headlamp for trips to use the bathroom after dark and a multitude of other uses.
Cooking your food at camp is half the fun of camping. One of the smartest things you can do is food prep before you head out. Chop all your vegetables ahead of time and pack your food in meal-sized packages to keep all the components for each meal together. This will cut down on the amount of cleanup you need to do at your campsite and reduce the amount of packaging you have to haul around and throw away.
Yeti coolers are great for camping trips because they’re built tough and keep food cold for a long time. When it comes to cooking your food, the campfire is great for marshmallows. A Jetboil HalfGen Base Camp Cooking System is compact, but functional for cooking things like eggs and brewing coffee. If you plan to do a lot of cooking, the MSR Quick 2 System Cookset will provide more versatility without taking up a lot of space in your gear.
When it comes to clean up, you really can’t go wrong with Camp Suds. Remember, never leave food sitting out when you’re away from camp or sleeping. Clean up all food promptly and store any food that doesn’t go in your cooler in a BearVault Food Container for safety if camping in an area with bears.
Aside from your clothes and the items mentioned above, you’ll want to pack some sunscreen, bug spray, and a first aid kit. A Gerber Suspension Multi-tool will come in handy for all sorts of things, and a camp hatchet is essential for chopping firewood. If you won’t have access to potable water, you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water with you.
For your first camping adventure, start small by going for just a night or two. That will give you a good idea of what to expect on a more extended trip, and help you decide what you need to bring to make your next trip more comfortable. Make sure you arrive at camp with plenty of daylight to get everything set up. Most of all, just relax and enjoy your first camping experience!
To make it super easy, check out our camping gear checklist to ensure you have all the necessities.