Are you wanting to try your hand at hiking and camping? Does the sound of the great outdoors, the smell of fresh air, the smell and sound of a campfire under the stars sound appealing to you? Will this be your first camping trip? Well then maybe this article can be of some useful information.
First of all, one of the most important things to do before planning your camping or hiking trip is to let someone know at home or at work details of where you plan to camp or hike, how long you will be gone and any other details about your trip that you can leave that will be helpful in the event of an emergency or you fail to return when you said you would.
So now plan your trip. Where will you go? How do you learn about the area you plan to hike and camp into? Where can I get a map? Make sure you get a map for the area you plan to hike or camp in. Most U.S. Forestry Centers carry free maps of wilderness areas. You can also find maps online and at most outdoor stores. You will also want to check the weather of your camping location and plan accordingly.
So what will I need? What kind of equipment will you need?
Camping requires equipment, and the basic equipment is the same for seasoned experts or those just starting out. While there is plenty of high-quality camping equipment to make your stay outdoors a lot more comfortable, most of these items aren’t necessary, especially for beginners. Choose good quality equipment, but don’t blow your budget buying the most expensive gear. Remember that costly doesn’t always mean top quality.
Here is some basic gear you’ll need for your trip:
Tents: Decide how many people will be sleeping in one tent. You may want to have one tent for adults and one for children if you will be camping with the whole family. For a more comfortable arrangement, purchase a tent that will hold two more people than the number you expect to have sleeping inside. See my Article on camping tents for more information.
Sleeping bags: Sleeping bags are graded for temperature and come in different shapes and sizes. Choose sleeping bags that are appropriate for the season and that have a comfortable size. See my Article on tents and sleeping bags for more information on these pieces of camping gear.
Cooking and meal equipment: A small, portable propane stove is very handy and makes mealtime as easy as if you were cooking in your own kitchen. You can also purchase a barbecue or find a stove that has both burners and grill. Choose washable dishes and utensils to be environmentally conscious. Don’t forget two plastic bins for washing up!
Coolers and food storage: Choose coolers big enough to allow for blocks of ice. It’s a good idea to have two separate coolers in different sizes as well, one for frozen foods and one for refrigerated foods. Select coolers with a snap-lock lid and handles. Purchase plastic bins to hold food that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Luggage: The best luggage for camping is a cloth bag like as a hockey bag. Stiff-sided luggage doesn’t hold as much clothing and takes up space.
Extras: Buy two tarps – one to use as a ground sheet underneath your tent and one to shelter the tent in the case of rain. Bring some rope for a makeshift clothesline. A nighttime lantern is always handy, especially for trips to the bathroom. You’ll also need a basic survival kit, a cell phone, and a flashlight in case of emergencies. If you’re going on a trip that lasts more than two nights and three days, bring biodegradable soap and shampoo.
When considering extra items to bring, try to think of functional items that fit your lifestyle like as sunscreen, bug spray, a pair of extra sandals, and a doormat for entry to your tent. Browse the aisles of the sporting goods section to determine what other items would be good to bring along.
Don’t get caught up with gadgets and unnecessary items. They’ll just take up space and probably won’t be used more than once, if at all.
Clothing and Packing
Determine how many days you are going camping, determine how many sets of clothes you will need for that period, and then cut that number in half. Pack only the necessities, minimal lgear is key to a great camping trip experience. Hauling, packing, storing, and trying to fit everything in the car before you leave for your trip and when it’s time to come home and unload it all is no fun at all. When you pack, fold each piece of clothing – and then roll it up. Rolled clothing takes up less space than stacked, folded clothing.
Camping involves plenty of planning, and that goes for food planning too. Prepare your menu ahead of time, and have a menu for each meal that includes every item you’ll need. The more detail you have on your menu, the better prepared you’ll be to shop for exactly what you require, no more and no less.
Choose supper meals that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze, and freeze as much as you can in plastic bags to save space. The advantage of freezing food is that you will have “ice” ready for your cooler and not have to buy as many blocks of ice, and the food can safely defrost in the cooler. If it’s frozen tight and you’re planning on eating it that night, transfer the food from your frozen food cooler to the fresh produce cooler. Alternatively, thaw it out by placing the plastic bag in a bucket of cold water.
It’s a good idea to prepare food you can freeze a couple of weeks ahead of time and the rest of the food the day before you leave. Remember, the more you can prepare at home, the less time you’ll have to put into cooking while you camp.
There are tons of other camping tips for beginners, but most camping trips involve common sense, creativity, and keeping calm when things get stressful. Camping is experience you have to try at least once. If all goes well, you will probably want do to it year after year!