For first-timers, their first experience camping outdoors will definitely be one to remember. Contrary to popular belief, camping isn’t all about having a simple tent and some firewood –– even seasoned campers need ample preparation to ensure a smooth-sailing, enjoyable camping trip. Feeling worried yet? Don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of common first-time camping mistakes with our three golden rules, and paired it with easy pointers to ensure a fun, organized, and safe trip.
Step 1: Plan
Banking on a simple cooler to keep your steaks, burgers, and other meats cool for days at a time is not a good idea –– non-perishable foods are the key to a great camping experience. If you’re planning to take on rigorous activities such as hiking or mountain biking, non-perishable food would come in handy as a great nutritional boost. It is important to come up with an itinerary and plan the proper nutrition you will be needing for the day. Plus, do remember to bring several extra trash bags as well! Whether you’re having an extra bad stomachache, you forgot your tents, or you’re just having a really bad first camping trip… these are the one staple that’ll never fail you.
When it comes to cooking, preparation is also needed. A common expectation first-time campers often have is that all cooking will be done over a campfire. However, as campers, we must be prepared for wet weather or other possible situations where a campfire is not feasible. You could bring a few logs with you, bring your portable camping stove or you can call the campsite in advance to check if they have stationary grills. Also, pack your steaks and other thick meats safely, and remember that these foods can take hours to cook to a safe temperature, especially when there is no charcoal or propane.
Time Your Trip
If you’re thinking of going on your first camping trip, you’ll want to start the day early. One important tip to follow is to always make sure that you have around three to five daylight hours at the campsite before your first night out. Losing daylight and having to cook or set up your tent in the dark is a very frustrating experience and it is very dangerous. If things go south, just remember to pack a handy LED lantern like this one at theexpertcamper.co.uk/brands/coleman.
Have Dry Runs
There’s no such thing as over-preparation when it comes to camping; you’d rather be safe than sorry. Before heading out on your first trip, think about everything that could potentially happen and prepare yourself so that when the situation arises, you’re able to respond well.
Don’t let your first camping trip be the first time you’ve pitched a tent –– go for a few dry runs first! Building a few campfires, setting up and tearing down a tent, testing your equipment, learning some basic first aid, and attempting simple trails are some examples of how you can better prepare yourself. The more you familiarise yourself with camping, the more confidence you’ll gain, and the better your camping experience would be.
Step 2: Pack
There is more to camping than a good knife, a tent, and a campfire. Any good camper knows that without a comprehensive packing list, you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure.
A good way to start creating a list is to first start with the bigger picture. What categories of items will you be needing? Food? Clothes? Once you have written down these sections of items go ahead and fill in the specifics. Separate the must-have items from the helpful gadgets and keep your emergency items in a safe and easily accessible location. Prepare another checklist for when you are getting ready to leave as well.
Although each camper’s list is unique to the camping experience (eg. camping location, activities, duration), here are some necessities that everyone should have: moleskin, first aid kit, sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellent, and water purification tablets.
There are bound to be a lot of things on your list but remember, you will be carrying these items with you. Bringing the essential items should suffice as you wouldn’t want to tire yourself out from lugging around all the extra weight. Space is a necessity, and you don’t want to end up overpacking –– especially if you’re thinking of traveling in a group. It’s important to remind everyone to ensure that their luggage fits comfortably in one bag, so your tent doesn’t become overcrowded!
Tents come in a variety of features, styles, types of setup, and quality. As such, you’ll need to find the most suitable tent for your trip, to ensure your safety and comfortability. For example, if you’re planning on camping with a group of friends, the size of your tent is one crucial factor you need to take note of. Your tent should have at least 30 square feet per camper and must be able to withstand harsh weather conditions. There’s no room for error here, so double-check the functionality of your tent’s zippers, poles, and fabric before setting off. No one wants to camp with a broken tent!
Wearing the Right Clothes
A camping trip is no place for your fancy shoes –– all you need is a pair of good hiking shoes and a durable pair of sandals, and you’re good to go! As for clothing, wear layers and be prepared to get a little dirty. Remember, when it comes to camping, it’s always quality over quantity. Whilst you don’t need to bring truckloads of clothes, having the right kind of clothes that suits the climate of your campsite will ensure that you are kept warm and dry. Always do research on the weather before planning what to bring!
Step 3: Be Aware
Pay Attention To Plants
Getting a cheap plant identification guide can come in handy when preparing for your camping trip. This is because most campsites and parks also have lists of poisonous plants known to grow all over the campgrounds –– such as poison oak, sumac, mushrooms, and other common plants. During certain periods in the year, even having accidental contact with a poisonous plant could result in rashes developing all over your body.
Being Aware of Wildlife
Whilst spotting the occasional raccoon or deer can spice up your camping trip, the presence of other wildlife may be a sign of trouble. It’s important to exercise care by carefully packing your food in plastic bags, which helps to minimize smells so as to keep pests away. Additionally, ensure that you dispose of any trash safely and keep your tent closed when you’re not in it. If you’re planning a trip within bear country or near potentially dangerous wildlife, keep a lookout and prepare yourself in the event of an encounter with a wild creature.
Camping is an experience that is like no other. With these three golden rules, you will definitely be signing yourself up for a fun and exciting trip!