Camping 101: Your Ultimate Guide To Camping

Camping 101: Your Ultimate Guide To Camping

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George Cummings
November 13, 2021
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If you want to go camping for the first time, you might wonder what you need to do to make it a fantastic adventure.

Whether you’re camping alone or with your kids, camping is about a lot more than immersing yourself in nature. How you prepare for the adventure can make it even more memorable!

What makes a bad camping trip? If you’ve ever had a bad camping vacation, you’ll know that a failure to plan for it is probably what caused a lot of problems.

While you can’t plan ahead for every scenario, you can ensure you have the gear and items you need to help you deal with whatever comes your way.

Knowing when to plan your camping trip will also prevent bad weather from ruining your fun. With this in mind, let’s explore everything you need to know about camping. 

What Are The Different Types Of Camping?

What Are The Different Types Of Camping?

There are many different ways to camp. Let’s check out some camping options you have when you want to get out of the city.

  • Tent Camping: This is the type of camping most people imagine when they book a camping trip. It involves finding a campsite, pitching a tent, and enjoying being immersed in nature. You can set up a tent in a variety of places, such as the forest, beach, or an official campground.
  • Backpacking: This type of camping involves walking or hiking during the day with your gear and then sleeping in a hammock overnight.
  • RV Camping: This is when camping becomes a little more comfortable. By making use of an RV or camper van, you can camp wherever you’re allowed to park and you’ll have more essentials to enjoy, such as electricity, by bringing your own items and equipment.
  • Dry Camping (Boondocking): This camping involves camping in more remote locations, whether with a tent or an RV. You won’t have access to amenities, such as water, and this will require you to use the resources you can find in the remote location.
  • Canoe Camping: If you love canoeing and camping, you can combine them! Pack what you need for your camping trip in your canoe, then paddle or fish during the day and camp under the stars at night. 
  • Bicycle Camping: Another fun type of camping is bicycle camping. It enables you to immerse yourself in nature while exploring camping locations that you wouldn’t be able to reach via car. It’s also a great form of exercise. At night, you’ll sleep in a light yet durable backpacking tent.
  • Glamping: If you don’t like roughing it in the outdoors, glamping (or glamorous camping) gives you a bit more luxury and comfort. You can camp in treehouses, cabins, villas, pods, or even yachts. 
  • Survivalist Camping: On the other side of the spectrum to glamping, this type of camping is extreme. There are two kinds: base camping and walkout. Base camping is when you set up your camp in an isolated location and you have to survive by finding resources, such as food. Walkout camping involves being dropped off in the wild and having to find your way back to civilization, so it’s pretty brutal and not for beginners. You require a high level of camping experience and survival skills in order to try this camping style.
  • Re-enactment Camping: This type of camping is quite unique so it’s ideal if you’re looking for a different way to enjoy the outdoors. How it works is that you mimic conditions from a previous era, such as medieval times or the wild west, during your camping trip. You can find campers who set up these themed camping events all around the world. Historical camping can be a great one to enjoy with children. 

Top 10 Camping Essentials 

Top 10 Camping Essentials 

The essential gear and items you require for your camping trip will vary a bit depending on the type of camping you’re going to be doing.

But, there are some important general essentials to ensure you have in your backpack.

There are five main categories to consider when thinking about what you need: comfort/shelter, clothing, kitchen essentials, hygiene/health items, and safety items. 

Comfort/Shelter

What shelter will you be using during your camping trip? This could take the form of a tent, a hammock, or a hut if you’re going the glam route.

You’ll need items for sleeping comfortably in your shelter, such as pillows, a sleeping mat, and a sleeping bag.

Bear in mind that you’ll need specific tools depending on the shelter you choose. For example, you will need a tent repair kit if you’re staying in a tent.

Extra items such as camping tables and chairs are also important. These can be used around the campsite or brought into your tent, provided it’s large enough.

Camping Clothes

From when you arrive at your camping destination, you have to ensure you’re already dressed for various tasks that need to be done.

If you’re in a shirt or dress, you’re going to be unprotected for setting up your tent and camp, unpacking, and so on. So, make sure you’re already dressed in camping gear.

How you dress for camping will depend on the weather. If it’s cold, you’ll need three layers of clothing to keep you warm and dry.

  • Inner layer: This layer of clothing needs to wick away moisture, such as sweat, from your skin so it should be made of wool or synthetic materials. Cotton absorbs moisture, so you want to avoid it. Examples of clothing items for this inner layer include t-shirts, long johns, vests, and underwear.
  • Middle layer: This layer of clothing is what will give you warmth. Aim to choose synthetic and woolly materials for their moisture-wicking properties. Fleece hoodies and jumpers are examples of clothing items in this category.
  • Outer layer: This layer of clothing will protect you against weather conditions, such as wind and rain. It has to be heavy and waterproof.

Don’t forget about buying good shoes! You can’t get away with wearing your light running shoes when camping in cold conditions.

Make sure you purchase strong boots with a good grip. Buy traction cleats that fit over the boots if you are going to be walking in ice or snow.

When purchasing socks, choose ones that are made of synthetic materials. Finally, protect your head with a woolen or fleece hat or beanie. 

How To Camp When It’s Warmer

If you’re camping when it’s warmer, you’ll require the following items.

Lightweight pants. While you might want to wear shorts when hiking during the day, this isn’t recommended. You could scratch yourself on thorns, get a sunburn, or suffer tick bites.

Choose light pants that are made of materials such as polyester. This is a fabric that’s usually chosen for workout gear because it’s light and breathable.

Long-sleeved shirts. Again, protect your arms against scratches, bites, and sunburn. Choose moisture-wicking T-shirts, such as those made of polyester.

Wear a light hat or cap to protect your head and face from the harsh sun.

When it comes to shoes, you have more options, such as sneakers for hiking and active sandals that offer support when you’re walking around camp. 

Kitchen Essentials

To ensure you can cook and prepare food during your camping trip, you’ll need pots, pans, a kettle, a stove, fuel, lighters and matches, a cool box or fridge, a chopping board, plates, mugs, bowls, cooking and eating utensils, washing-up liquid, and tin openers.

When choosing the type of food you will eat during your camping trip, you need to be smart.

If you’re backpacking, you need to choose food that’s light enough to carry, such as dehydrated food, nuts, seeds, granola bars, and others instead of heavy canned foods. 

Hygiene/Health Essentials

To stay clean during your trip, you’ll need to have important items from home, such as toiletries, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and quick-dry towels.

When it comes to health, ensure you have a first-aid kit in your bag as well as an insect repellent.

It’s also important to remember to carry any chronic medications that you require, as well as any over-the-counter medicines should you require them during your camping adventure.

Safety Essentials

You need to ensure your safety when you’re outdoors. Safety items include a variety of essentials, such as a compass and paper map, a flashlight and lantern, a multi-tool pocket knife, a firestarter, and extra water.

If you’re going to be sourcing your own food, such as if you’re going on a survival camping trip, you will need more items, such as fishing gear. 

Cooking Tips For Camping Trips 

Cooking Tips For Camping Trips 

What you’re going to eat during your camping trip can feel overwhelming. You don’t want to bring too many pieces of cooking equipment or foods that take up all your storage space.

Here are some tips to bear in mind so you only bring what you need.

  • Only pack essential cooking equipment: Think about how you’re going to cook food during your camping trip. It’s useful to bring a convenient, versatile cast-iron skillet, as this is strong while allowing you to cook a variety of foods. It also helps to plan your meals so you know what cooking tools you’ll require.
  • Prep some food before you leave: To reduce food preparation during your camping trip, it helps to chop your meat and vegetables and store them in plastic bags. This keeps them dry and ready for cooking while ensuring they remain hygienic. 
  • Reduce your clean-up time: After cooking, you will have to clean your pots and other cooking gear. This can be a chore, but you can make it easier on yourself by coating the outside of your pans and pots with a bit of dish soap before you start the cooking process. This will allow any food on the exterior of the pots and pans to fall off when you wash them afterward.

How To Start A Fire 

How To Start A Fire 

Before you go camping, you need to know how to start a fire. This is not only useful for cooking food and boiling water but there’s nothing more special than having a beautiful roaring fire at camp. Here’s how to do it. 

You will start by collecting tinder, which is the smallest material that’s also the easiest to burn. Examples of tinder to collect include wood shavings, strips of cardboard, and commercial fire starters. It’s a good idea to bring these from home.

Next, choose kindling. These are larger materials, such as small branches and twigs.

Finally, collect firewood. These are basically logs that have been cut up. Firewood should be about one to five inches in diameter.

Again, it’s good to bring your own firewood. You should never use branches from trees at the camping site – the number-one rule when camping is to leave the surroundings as untouched as possible!

Use a lighter and matches. Stick matches work well, but bring a box of waterproof ones in case you encounter bad weather. 

How to make a teepee fire

  • Arrange the kindling in a teepee fashion over the tinder. 
  • Place a bigger teepee of firewood over the kindling.
  • Light the tinder with matches. Ensure you light it from all sides.

Note: Never use gasoline and don’t squirt charcoal lighter fluid into the fire as these are safety risks. 

When’s The Best Time To Go Camping? 

When’s The Best Time To Go Camping? 

While you can go camping at any time of the year – even when it’s really cold as long as you’re experienced in winter camping – there are some good tips to bear in mind.

If you want to camp in a colder region, it’s good to head there during the summer.

If you’re going to an area that’s extremely hot at certain times of the year, you can make it more comfortable by going there between December and April as you’ll experience cooler temperatures.

If you’re camping in an RV, this gives you greater options. By equipping your RV with an air-conditioning unit and portable heater, the outside temperatures won’t affect you so much.

Weather considerations aside, you also need to think about whether or not you want to camp in peak season.

This tends to be between the months of June and July, and it’s when you’ll find many families heading out to the campsites. It’s worth avoiding if you want a quieter time.

How To Choose The Best Campsite

How To Choose The Best Campsite

Where you choose to set up camp requires a bit of serious thought. You don’t want to be at the mercy of the wind or in a situation where you can’t get to water easily. Here are some tips.

  • Choose level terrain. You need to sleep on level ground so that you don’t wake up with body aches and pains. If you can’t find a completely level piece of ground, pitch your tent on a slight incline and sleep with your head at the top of the slope.
  • Find natural “windbreakers”. Trees, large boulders, and even fences can all provide shelter from the wind. Look for these when deciding where to set up camp. That said, be cautious when setting up your campsite right next to trees as these can attract lightning, especially if there’s one large, isolated tree. Rather choose to set up your camp near trees that are densely packed together and of a similar height.
  • Look for easy access to water. Ensure you’re not too close to a water source that you could contaminate it, such as when washing pots and clothes, so pitch your tent at least 200 feet away from the closest water source. That said, don’t set up your tent too far away from water as that will make trips to and from the source difficult. 

How To Camp With Kids 

How To Camp With Kids 

The idea of going camping with your kids might make you feel stressed, but there are ways to make family camping an enjoyable experience for everyone. Here are some important tips to bear in mind.

  • Book Your Adventure Early: It’s smart to book your camping trip ahead of time because many campgrounds will fill up quickly with families, especially if you want to camp in a state park. Ideally, book around six or eight months before you go. This will ensure availability. 
  • Check For Kid-Friendly Amenities: When choosing a suitable campground, look for amenities that will make the experience fun for your kids. For example, swimming areas and playgrounds will attract kids, and you should look for kid-friendly hikes and walks through nature.
  • Plan Your Clothing: Choose layers of clothing that will make it easy for kids to put on or remove items depending on the temperature. Since babies don’t move around as much as older children, they will usually require an extra layer to be comfortable and warm enough.
  • Get Your Kids Used To Camping: If your children have never been camping before, get them acquainted with it by pitching a tent in the backyard for a night or two. This will help them to test the waters of what it’s like to camp, and will help you see what they need to make it more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Stick To The Same Routine: This is a good tip to remember if you have young kids. Children like having a routine, so try to stick to the same schedule you do at home, such as when it comes to what time you eat meals and bedtime.
  • Give Them Responsibilities: This is a great way to make kids feel involved in and excited about the camping trip. They should give you their input on what clothes and items they want to bring, and what foods they want to eat. Around camp, they can also do tasks, such as helping you set up camp or cook.
  • Start Small: You should start out with a camping trip that’s not too far away from home so that kids can get used to it, then work your way up to longer, more remote trips.
  • Reduce Their Quantity Of Toys: While you might think your children will get bored and miss toys or devices from home, resist the temptation to bring them tons of stuff. It’s better for them to have interesting things to see and do in their surroundings, and this will prevent them from having their noses stuck in their devices all day.
  • Keep Them Safe: At night, make sure that your kids have flashlights, headlamps, and solar lanterns to avoid giving them gas-operated lanterns that are a fire and carbon monoxide hazard.

It’s also important to set some rules for them during the day when it comes to where they are allowed to play.

Give them safety items to carry, such as a whistle, so that if they do wander off and get lost they can “call out” to you.

What About Camping With Pets? 

What About Camping With Pets? 

If you thought camping with kids was going to be tricky, pets can take that to a whole new level! But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you want to take Fido along for a fun family camping trip, you just need to ensure you follow some important tips.

  • Consider Tent Size: Make sure your tent will have enough room for you and your pet. While a small dog breed or cat won’t take a lot of space, a dog that’s larger, such as a labrador, should be considered an extra person when you go shopping for a tent. Once you have set up your tent, make sure you lay the floor with towels. This will prevent your pet from scratching it, but it also makes cleaning up messes much easier the next morning.
  • Carry A Small Travel Bag: This should be large enough to store your dog’s kibbles and treats when you go for walks or hikes together in nature. To ensure your pet gets enough water, purchase a dog water bottle such as PETKIT Dog Water Bottle. This bottle has a mouth design at the top that works like a bowl but it’s portable and easy to carry, and can also be used for cats.
  • Bring A Pet Playpen: If you’re worried about your cat or dog running off, bring a playpen that you can set up on your campground. This ensures they stay put while still enjoying some time outdoors. 

Related Questions 

How can you keep your pet safe during camping trips?

How can you keep your pet safe during camping trips?

A good tip to keep them safe in case they do runoff is to add your campsite number on their collar, and never let them run off a leash. 

How do you know if your pets will enjoy camping?

Ask yourself if your dog or cat is skittish, gets stressed easily, doesn’t like being on a leash, and/or runs away from you. These could result in a stressful experience for both you and your pet. 

Conclusion

Whether you want to camp alone, with kids or your pets, you can make it a memorable adventure.

After reading this article, you’ll have everything you need for camping trips and will know your way around essential camping tasks much better, such as starting a fire and finding the perfect spot to set up your tent.

Resources

George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.