These days the idea of unplugging can either sound appealing or “not for me”. For those who are intrigued by the idea of communing with nature, let’s review some camping basics to ensure you’ll be a happy camper…
GIVE ME SHELTER
The Dome Tent
The easiest option for beginners, do a practice run and set up in the backyard to make sure your tent is in proper working order.
TIP: That two-person tent is pretty small (it’s really more like a personal tent) so, always opt for one that gives all occupants plenty of space. This dome tent allows for extra headroom with 6’ at the peak.
The Pole Tent
A little more difficult to set up, but if you’re tall this may be a better option—as these types allow for more headroom. Again, make sure your tent is in top condition before packing, and you may want to include a small repair kit (because accidents do happen).
No set-up required! Get the rustic feeling along with the security of knowing there are real walls between you and nature. But really, where’s the fun in that?
Channel your inner cave man and cook over an open fire. Steak, chicken, baked potatoes are all great options.
TIP: Prep ahead of time, marinate at home and store veggies in foil pouches. Pack some heavy-duty aluminum foil and check out some of these great recipes for campfire meals.
If you want a more urbane experience, there’s always a camp stove, all the convenience of home…just set up on a picnic table. Don’t forget a few basic pots and pans, though.
You need to store your food—and you need to store it safely. The Cadillac of coolers is the YETI, not only are they known for their superior insulation value, but they’re grizzly proof too. However, your standard cooler will suffice—but you may want to pack one cooler for foods and one for drinks. This way you can keep your foods at a safe temperature with minimal opening of the cooler.
TIP: Pack a thermometer to ensure the cooler temp is at a safe level, specifically for foods. If you’re in bear territory, you may also want to bring some strong rope to tie up your cooler during the overnight (assuming you don’t have a YETI).
Depending on the time of year, consider taking an insulated sleeping bag. Mummy bags are great for cold-weather camping since they cut down on heat loss from your head. Just be sure to get a bag that is rated for the type of camping you’re planning on doing. You don’t want to be camping in October, in the mountains, where it can go down to 20 degrees, in a lightweight sleeping bag.
For a little extra comfort, consider a sleeping pad or an air mattress as a base for your sleeping bag—there’s no need to sacrifice comfort while getting some shut eye.
Emergencies happen, so always keep a first aid kit on hand. You can buy one or make your own. Include matches, because you really don’t want to rub two sticks together for a campfire.
Flashlights and headlamps: Be sure to pack a couple (and extra batteries).
Tarps & bungee cords: Get a few and pack them. Tarp off the picnic table—you’ll have shade or, if it rains you have shelter. You can also give your tent extra protection (lay your tent over a tarp to protect against rocks or twigs poking through) or lay it on the ground during some rain and let nature make a slip-and-slide…in any case when camping, they come in handy.
Bug spray and citronella candles: Fend off mosquitos, moths and other flying annoyances.
Chairs: You could sit on the ground around the campfire…but you’ll probably be happier with a camp chair!
Games: Cards are easy to pack and versatile. Games like Bananagrams and travel versions of favorites are also great family-friendly options.
And last but not least, pack along your sense of adventure. The fun in camping is making do. It might not be what you’re used to doing at home, but the experience of roughing it is more about making memories, spending time together and sharing the adventure.