Preparing for your first camping trip can be exciting but also possibly a bit overwhelming. When you have so much to pack and carry, it’s easy for even the most experienced campers to forget something. This is why it’s advisable to start packing a day or two before you head out. This also gives you a chance to try any new equipment that you may not have any experience with. The last thing you want is to be caught out in difficult weather and no phone service trying to learn how to set up and use a piece of equipment you were going to rely on.
As you pack, make a checklist of everything you need, as this can save you time and stress the next time you look to hit the trails! Below are a few things you definitely don’t want to be caught without:
Tents and Sleeping Bags
Even if you plan to sleep under the stars, it’s always wise to have a tent on hand because if the weather takes an unexpected turn, you’ll be glad you have some cover to escape under. In addition to a tent you’ll also want to look into stakes to help hold the tent down in case of wind, a rainfly to protect against precipitation, and a footprint to help prevent the ground from ripping and tearing your tent.
Also, you’ll want to have a reliable sleeping bag that will keep you warm and dry from rain, morning dew or other moisture. Sleeping bags are sold at various temperature ratings, so be sure to check that whichever sleeping bag you plan on using is appropriate for the climate you’ll be in.
Food and Water
Dry and canned goods are always a safe bet when you’re camping, but with the help of a few extra tools, you can cook a gourmet meal right at your campsite.
Depending on where you’ll be camping, campfires may not be allowed due to concerns over forest fires, so unfortunately s’mores may be off the menu! Be sure to check your local restrictions prior to arriving at your campsite.
If you’re cooking over a campfire then cast iron is a reliable fan favorite, however it is quite heavy if you need to backpack a long distance. If weight is a concern – or wood burning fires are banned – then something like these backpacking stoves are great for a quick hot meal while still respecting local fire restrictions.
Also, be sure you have plenty of access to water throughout your trip. Stock up on bottled water, or if you’re hiking and want to pack light, consider bringing a canteen and water filter. Plan on needing two liters per person per day.
Speaking of light, if it’s cloudy or a new moon, it will get dark fast when you’ve spent all day hiking and preparing your campsite. Pack a flashlight, headlamp or lantern to provide plenty of light, should you need it throughout the night, as well as an extra pack of batteries or a solar brick for USB charging.
Headlamps are generally preferred, as they offer handsfree operation and are small on storage space and lightweight to pack.
Clothing for Any Weather
You’ll also want to make sure you have the proper clothing and hiking boots for any kind of weather. Always check the forecast for rain or a high heat index. If you’re camping somewhere in the mountains, it’s important to have the right gear for snow as well, such as hats and gloves that can withstand the cold.
Once you check clothing off the list, you can determine if you have room in your pack for other materials to keep you safe from bad weather. You might want to consider bringing a tarp to keep your supplies dry or an additional thermal blanket for added heat.
You never know when you’re going to need a pocketknife or Swiss Army Knife. Whether you need to cut some small branches for kindling a fire or cut some rope to pitch your tent, a pocketknife is absolutely essential for your first camping trip.
Conversely, with a multi-tool you will also have access to a corkscrew, small scissors, and other handy gadgets that can make your trip a lot easier depending on the supplies you’ll be bringing.
First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit on hand will help prepare you for any situation. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with anything serious or life threatening, but a good supply of bandages, gauze and antiseptic can definitely offer some peace of mind.
With a bit of preparation, your first camping experience can be fun, exciting and worry-free. I know mine was!
Author Bio: Hailing from Southern California, Derek is new to the blogosphere and great outdoors. With social distancing in full effect he has found comfort in nature and purpose in sharing his journey with other likeminded adventurers. Follow along at his blog where he shares updates on the tips and tricks he learns along the way.