Camping 101: What You Need to Know

If you’ve never camped before, you need to put it on your summer bucket list immediately.

Camping combines everything you love about the outdoors into one great weekend or holiday getaway.

If you’ve never been, camping might seem a bit daunting. What happens if it rains? Do I have enough gear? What will I eat? Not to worry. There are a lot of things to consider when camping so here are a few tips for beginners.

  1. Research where you’re going. Research, plan and prepare for the conditions and wilderness area you will be in. To get ready for your trip, research websites for nearby trails and activities, read camping journals and testimonials, and scour hiking magazines for other tips to be as prepared as possible.
  1. Test your equipment before you leave. There is nothing worse than packing up all of your stuff, getting to your camping destination and unpacking only to find out something is faulty or broken. Try opening up all of your gear before you leave – especially if it’s new or if you haven’t used it in awhile.
  1. Arrive at your campsite in daylight. Sometimes setting up your campsite in daylight can be the difference between a good night and a bad one. You’ll be happier and more relaxed if you set your site up during the day. That being said, make sure your lanterns and flashlights have fully charged batteries.
  1. Set up your tent up on high ground. If there is a chance of rain, it’s best to be safe and set up your tent on the higher ground of the campsite. No, this doesn’t mean hike up half a mountain to be away from rain, but if there is a noticeable hill or higher elevation on your site it’s best to choose that area. This could be the difference between waking up in a puddle the next day, or waking up dry and ready to go.
  1. Keep it simple. Especially if this is your first camping trip, keep your packing list light and easy. It’s difficult to cut down items when you’re packing, but it’s for the best. You can always buy more gear when you’ve returned home and have a better sense of what you need. Don’t overload your car and site with unnecessary items if you don’t have to. Check out how simple campfire cooking can be too, in the video below.

Most importantly, remember to have fun! That is what camping is all about. Let us know in the comments how your first camping experience was, or if you want to share any tips.

Photo Credit: Ted Gresham via Flickr (feature) and Dana Blankenship, A Healthier Michigan (inset)

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  1. Don’t forget to bring physical maps! Don’t think you can rely on your smart phone maps. You’ll be surprised (and lost) when you have no internet connection.

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