Whether it’s your first camping weekend, or your one-hundredth, outdoor tent camping can and should be a great adventure that you remember for its high-points – not its disappointments. Experienced campers know what to expect and what to prepare for, but can still be surprised by a simple camping tip they never thought of. For new campers, their first few camping trips can make or break their desire to continue camping.
These simple and mostly common-sense tips will help new campers get off to a good start, and might even contain a suggestion or two for the experienced camper.
Know your camping area: Tent Camping is all about being prepared, and you can’t be prepared if you don’t know what to expect. It’s not enough to just know whether it’s a mountain or lowland campsite, or whether it will be hot or cold, you should know the type of terrain in the area, and typical weather expectations. Knowing the campsite has amenities, like; water, electric, and bathroom facilities is important, but it also helps to know where, when, and how much. Such as; the bathrooms are a mile from your campsite, or there is one water source for the whole camp-ground, or electric is available, but you can only use one extension cord. Campsite restrictions can also play a major role in your preparations. Your anticipation of great campfire meals will turn to major disappointment when you arrive and find that open campfires are not allowed.
Be prepared: Knowing the above information will help you decide what camping gear and equipment you need to take, and how much to take. It’s not just the proper and expected items and amounts for your planned outing, but also what you might need for the “unplanned.” For instance; you planned for one clothing change per day -what happens when you get an unplanned soaking from rain or a missed step crossing a creek, or you brought enough camping stove fuel for normal camping conditions, but it’s colder and windier than you expected -requiring extra fuel that you didn’t bring. Are there: mosquitoes, flies, and bugs, or snakes and camp-invading varmints? You will be miserable if you didn’t prepare for them.
Check and double-check: Most experienced campers have, and use, camping checklists that they have refined over time to match their camping style and needs. It is especially important for new campers to use them too. It only takes one forgotten item, large or small, to ruin all or part of your camp-out. Your camp stove looks great on the table, but it won’t do you much good if you forgot the fuel connector for the propane bottle, and imagine your surprise when you are ready to start dinner and realize that the fully-stocked and organized camp food cooler is sitting on the garage floor back home, instead of with the rest of the camping gear -where you assumed it was. Check it when you organize it, and double-check it when you pack it on-board.
These are only the basics. Each area has so much more to it that the details provide ample fodder for scores of camping books for each one. No matter what method you find that works for you, as long as you find one, if you cover these three areas of preparation, your chances of having a great and memorable outdoor camping trip will be a lot better than those that don’t.
For more information, including; step-by-step trip planning tips and free printable camping checklists, check out Gus’ article on Planning an Outdoor Camping Trip.