Leaving the comfort of home and setting out into the wilderness for your first outdoor camping expedition can seem like a daunting task at first. You wonder and worry about where to go, what to bring, how long of a trip you’re planning and above all else… if you’re forgetting something.
Oh, the worry of forgetting a needed tool, piece of clothing or whatever else can eat at you like an open garage door on an overseas trip. Luckily, I’m here to tell you not to worry, as with knowledge, the right gear and a little preparation, you will surely have an enjoyable and fulfilling outdoor camping experience!
Choosing a Place to Pitch Your Tent:
Depending on how epic your camping plans become, you could be envisioning
anything from a hammock in a backpack to an RV park off the beaten path, though the most common image popping into everyone’s brains is one of a outdoor camping tent and a campfire
No matter the scale, it’s important to have a destination in mind. Check the established campgrounds and parks near you using this tool, or check with your local parks departments to learn the regulations on dispersed-camping in your area.
For your first time in the outdoors, I recommend you choose a campground relatively near to home especially if you’re bringing along the family, and one that supports your planned style of camping (ie. you don’t necessarily want to bring a tent to an RV park).
Pay close attention to the campground description as well, as some require a reservations or are seasonally closed. You will find information on the campground’s cost per day, bathroom facilities (if any), and other amenities.
The Gear – What To Bring Camping Checklist:
Your outdoor camping trip can be a success whether you bring your gear by the trunk-load or carry it on your back, but in any case there are some bare essentials you should include. You may follow this outdoor camping checklist as a loose guide for your first trip:
Don’t go bare:
Pack the appropriate clothing for the weather at your planned camping destination! Is it a trip during the summer, or on the fringes of wintertime? You also must take into account how long your trip will be. Your clothing could include:
- Proper footwear/Socks
- Shirts (long or short-sleeved)
- Rain gear
Ensure a good night’s rest:
There’s nothing worse than being underprepared for a cold night out at the campground. For the usual tent campers, your pack should contain these:
- Tent (w/extra ground stakes)
- Hatchet/Axe (to drive in tent stakes, and collect firewood where allowed – check your campground’s rules!)
- Compact air mattress/padding
- Sleeping bag (be sure to pay attention to temperature ratings!)/Pillows
- Misc blankets/tarps
What you need to cook over the campfire:
There are a ton of meals your can prepare for the whole family at the campsite, so be sure to include these cooking tools and utensils to your pack:
- Lighter/Matches/Lighter fluid
- Cooler(s) w/ice
- Large water containers (filled!)
- Campfire grill/fire grate
- Small cooking pot/Frying pan of any sort
- Heavy-Duty aluminum foil/Paper towels
- Kitchen knife/Eating utensils
- Paper plates/Paper cups
- Dish soap/Kitchen sponge/Plastic bags
- Firewood! (if firewood collection is not allowed)
But to really feel at home, include:
- Outdoor camping stove
- Dutch ove
- French press
- Cutting board/knives
This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather to give you an idea of what you might need/want on your next outdoor camping trip. For the sake of others in your party, you should be expected to bring all needed toiletries too!