questionsany advice for a person going camping for theā€¦


Posted on sport.woot for ya, to draw people over here. :)

My advice: Look at the stuff you're taking. Figure out ways to cut it down, and what things can do double duty whenever possible. You'll be glad. :)

Also: Take pictures, but more importantly, don't be so behind that camera catching the good times that you forget to inhale and enjoy the moment!


Camping or backpacking?

Regardless, if you have an REI nearby, give them a call or check the store's calendar. They do a lot of classes, including basic camping and backpacking. Also, many REIs will allow you to rent gear, saving you some of the upfront investment.

As far as a tent goes, a two person tent really means two people pretty much on top of each other. Something to keep in mind. Practice setting it up before you leave. Don't want to be trying to do it for the first time as the rain clouds are rolling in.

Get a sleeping bag, even if it's going to be warm. Down is better, but more expensive, and as soon as you get it wet you lose all your insulating value. Synthetic is fine for most trips. I'd also recommend a pad, but you can probably get away without if you're going to be at a prepared campsite.

Research activities in the area (if camping), but also bring activities for the downtime - a book, a game, etc.

Looks like has some camping sales coming up

vote-for4vote-against "Camping essentials" starting tomorrow, packs/tents/bags Friday.


Get a good lantern. For god's sake, don't forget the toilet paper!


See if you can borrow gear from friends, particularly the bigger ticket items like tents and sleeping bags. There's a reasonable chance you'll like camping and want to get your own gear. If that's the case, you'll have a better idea of what features you want/need. And, if you decide that camping is a one time thing for you, you're not stuck with a bunch of gear to donate/resell/stuff in the back closet.
You may also be able to rent gear at some outdoors stores (REI and similar). is a great place for good deals on camping gear.


As @dcalotta mentioned, make sure you get a tent with plenty of room. My wife and I have a 4 person Coleman tent and it has just enough room for us, our belongings, and a 70lb dog. Make sure you practice setting it up once or twice. Also pick up at least a 5 gallon water container so you don't hike to keep filling up on water. A nice lighter, a good multi-tool won't hurt either.

Take it slow at first, then once you guys get more experienced, and start figuring out what you can and cannot live without, try going for an extended weekend, and into more remote areas. I also recommend going with some friends, it helps especially if they're more experienced and have essential gear. It can be fun, or it can be a nightmare, but try to make the best of it!


I'm gonna double recommend the REI free classes - they often have good ones like winter camping basics, lightweight backpacking ... those are just two that I've taken.

I'm going to have to miss the camp cooking one coming up. So sad. :(


Know ahead of time that banging two sticks together does NOT scare aware cougars and mountain lions. Just don't take camping advice from Hayley Mills!

Honestly, above everything else, you HAVE to have a great sense of humor and huge amount of patience to camp with the ones you love for the first time. Take great photos and remember, the bad parts will always make great cocktail party tales of woe!


@dcalotta: I thought camping the first time. It will be a learning experience for both of us, so we don't want to get overwhelmed. I am also a little concerned about taking a dog with us.


@atd15: You sound like you're trying camping as a springboard to backpacking. In that case, I would advise against spending a lot of money on camping supplies - you generally won't take much/any of it with you backpacking. So definitely try to rent/borrow, or buy lighter weight/multi use stuff. As far as the dog, it's really up to you - you need to know your dog to make the call. Mine loves it, but he is pretty calm and likes to just chill at night (and all night).

It's much less of an issue in camping, but remember, you have to carry everything you bring (even if it's just from the car to the tent). Don't bring too much extraneous stuff, but the first few times out you're going to bring more than you need.

Also, forgot to mention this above - make sure you know the rules/regs for where you're camping. They'll vary greatly state to state, private vs. public site, federal vs. state, forest vs. park. It's a pain sometimes, but it is worth it. If you're going to be hiking at all


(or backpacking), make sure you have a good map of the area, and make sure you know the best/fastest route back to civilization from where ever you are on the route. Bear eats all your food and you're 3 days into a weeklong trip? That's bad. Probably need to get out, and you don't want to have to backtrack 3 days worth on an empty stomach.

Along those same lines, let someone know your plan, and let them know of any changes you make. Even if it's the ranger station, you want someone to a) notice if you don't come back and b) know where to look.

If you take a class, I am sure it'll be covered, but if not, learn about "leave no trace" - and practice it.


The Holiday Inn, Marriott, Best Western.....


Get a big tent, especially if you're not packing up and moving every day. (Know anyone you can borrow one from?) They're fairly reasonably priced these days, and if you get something at least 9x6 you'll have a little room to drag stuff inside with you. This is a good f'rinstance: It's really nice to be able to have your late-night and early-morning needs already in the tent with you. Our first tent, for 2 adults and a five year old, was 8x10.

Summer sleeping bags are inexpensive; a foam pad underneath will help you sleep better and a light-weight blanket will be nice on top if you get a summer cool spell. We liked the kind that zip together to make a two-person bag. Pillows if you want; we used folded-up sweatshirts.

Go easy on what you take; packing and repacking can be a big PIA. Dress in comfy layers. We discovered paper grocery bags (or soft-side duffels) worked great for stuffing into available car space.


cont'd: Buy/borrow a small campstove. Take a 10" frying pan, a smallish sauce pan, and a larger sauce pan, which doubles as another frying pan. Aluminum foil, wet-wipes and paper towels. Heavy-duty plastic dinnerware can be washed but isn't a big deal if lost. Unless you're experienced at camp cooking, try mostly canned and easy-prep stuff at first; you can always hit a food store mid-trip. We used to camp in the NC mountains in mid-October; nights were in the upper 20's. After a busy day, a quick/easy dinner of stew and biscuits was wonderful.

If it rains, don't touch the tent walls. Most campgrounds are fairly safe, but take your valuables with you when you leave the tent to go adventuring. Take a fire extinguisher; one of the small, aersolized ones is fine. Bug spray. Towels. Morning toiletries in a handy tote bag. Small first-aid kit with the usual stuff plus a few 4x4 gauze pads, bandage tape, burn ointment, calamine, etc.

And most of all: patience and a sense of adventure!


Toilet paper, bug spray, and a good knife.


Buy some cheap plastic sheeting at your local hardware store. Get a big roll. Put this under your tent and it will stay relatively clean for packing it back up. If the ground is wet, it could be a moisture barrier, but that can backfire in a deluge. Take comfortable camp chairs if you plan on being at the campsite much. Flashlights or headlamps are nice for bathroom runs in the dark. Take aluminum foil, you can cover a dirty grill grate or just cook directly in the foil. Get a cooler of some sort for potable water if you are going somewhere where it isn't nearby. A thin rope makes a nice clothesline between trees if you get your clothes / shoes wet. Take a box of trash bags, hang them up in a tree or on the lantern post to keep animals away. If you plan on using an air mattress, maybe get a pump with a DC power adapter unless you enjoy testing your lung capacity. Try and buy firewood locally. Car chargers for cell phones so you don't lose your emergency contact option.


Just got back from a camping trip wherein we had to build lean-tos to keep the rain off the rapidly-flooding tents, a few things that make life easier:
-Duct tape
-Camp stove
-Garbage bags
-Folding outdoor chairs
-French press and coffee
-Plates and hot liquid cups (reusable!)
-Fire starters
-Sleeping bag
-Sense of wonder
-Air mattress
-Snacks! (You might be hiking and doing more, make sure to refuel)
-Musical instruments/board games/cards
-Toilet paper
-Lantern (gas or battery)
-Solar charger (for phones... be careful with devices not made to charge electronics)
-Plastic bags (waterproof your phones!)
-Water (Drink mixes are also nice)
-First aid (bandages, aspirin, antacids, allergy medicine etc)
-Knife or multitool
-Patch kit (For tents, tarps, bags, pads. I recommend Shoe Goo.)
-Cast iron skillet/pans
-Fishing gear (and license! don't poach)


A lot of what you need depends on the type of camping you'll be doing. When my family used to go to Disney and stay at the campground, our camp site was more like "really cheap hotel". For those trips I brought a long (outdoor) extension cord and power strip that powered my clip light, clip fan and clock radio. Those things were set up on a milk crate and the tent was almost as cozy as my dorm room (three person tend for just me).

Similarly with food. You can pack pop tarts for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and dinner, you can plan on going into town to a restaurant for some meals or you can cook over the camp fire/grill/stove (breakfast burritos are easy, tasty and filling).

I highly recommend pads for under your sleeping bag. I don't personally like big air mattresses. They do nothing to insulate you from the cold ground (in fact, they're worse than just sleeping on the cold ground). A foam pad or insulating camping mattress (like a thermarest) are better (but pricey).


Oh, ice and coolers are nice too. And "liquid egg product," which is easier than packing in whole eggs. And canned beer!


Headlamps are great if you're going to be setting up a tent in the dark or if you need to make a midnight bathroom run! Someone else said TP, I echo this sentiment.


Make sure you have plenty of blankets. It's very easy to ruin a camping trip by having a bad nights sleep because you were too cold.

Also, clothing wise, pack layers. That way you can adjust what you're wearing to the temperatures.

Something to easily start a fire. Nothing like waking up, being cold, and not being able to get a fire started. Something as simple as one of the fire logs things works fine if you're car camping. Bring a tarp.


The only thing that comes to mind after the above posts is a generator, if applicable.


Lots of great advice here. Some of the must haves that I'd recommend are:
Garbage bags (work great as ponchos too)
Plastic sheet under tent
Maps of area (even if you have a GPS)
handiwipes (if you want to be able to easily cleanup)
first aid kit

And as @dcalotta said, make sure someone knows your plan (and update if you change). Leave a copy of your itinerary in your car or with the ranger station if that is available and let a family member/friend know. I'm a huge proponent of things like RoadID in general as an easy way to keep identification on you at all times, including detailed medical info and emergency contact info.


For starters, a consideration you want to determine is how far away from civilization you want to go:
Do you want to hike hike 10 miles to your destination, lugging all your gear with you?
Or do you want to find a campground you can drive to that is laid out (stone ring for campfire, grill, parking, outhouses, possible shower, etc).. This being your first camping trip, albeit together, I would recommend the latter, that way if you need anything (like takeout), you can always hop in your car.


If you are planning on backpacking in to your campsite, go for a short distance your first time. Aim for a site 1-2 miles (maybe 3) away from the trailhead, tops.

Nothing kills the the fun of a first time backpacker faster than a perceived "death march" to and from the campsite.

Plus if you go for a shorter distance, you can afford to carry some heavier "luxury" items that you wouldn't consider carrying on a longer trip.

Also, a few people have mentioned putting a plastic sheet or tarp under your tent. This is good advice. I just want to add that the tarp/sheet's footprint should be slightly smaller than your tent. You don't want the trap sticking out from under your tent. If is is sticking out and it rains, that tarp will funnel all the rainwater it catches right under your tent and your floor will end up wetter than if you had no tarp at all.


CAMPING...Mother Nature's way of feeding mosquitos.


Did you go yet? Just wondering if you took any of this advice and how it went...