15 Camping Essentials for Beginners in 2023
Camping has been a favorite past-time of people of all age groups. Children join the girl or boy scouts to learn the basics of camping and other outdoor survival skills. Friends can go on camping trips together. Families will plan trips to forests, mountains, or lakes. People even choose to go alone to be one with nature. Camping is getting incredibly popular. According to this study, 77 million US households know somebody who camps.
However, it wouldn’t be a good idea to pack a couple of pairs of clothes and hit the road. If anything, camping requires a lot of careful planning and consideration. Newbies can easily skip out due to their lack of awareness, information, and experience.
Camping Essentials Checklist
But, not to fear, for here are 15 points that beginners should consider when planning a camping trip! These points can be applied to tent and RV campers.
Tent Camping VS RV Camping
The first thing you should consider is what type of camping trip would suit your particular needs?
Camping in a tent is the most common type. This can be done at basically any campground, as it doesn’t require as much space as an RV. Tent camping can be better for someone new to camping as a whole, fit the budget, and not need experience in RV maintenance.
However, RV camping is also an enjoyable experience. RVs can be good in all types of weather and easily be used as transport. This could be a fun activity for a big family looking to go on a longer trip. It is also preloaded with facilities and amenities like plumbing or wifi. Just a heads up, it would be best if you were experienced in servicing and other automotive concerns.
RV camping would also require more space due to their sheer size, and then your campsite would be limited to an RV park or grounds that allow RVs.
To sum it up, I have done both kinds of camping styles already, and the feeling of freedom when you cruise in an RV through a national park in the united states is indescribable. Camping in a tent, on the other hand, is pure joy and absolutely breathtaking in many parts of the words and perfect in combination with multiple days hikes.
Selecting A Suitable Campsite
A beginner camper may select any campsite on a whim, perhaps see a pretty view, get ready to go there, and not pay attention to the nitty-gritty details. However, you should always select a campsite by investigating it thoroughly.
Things to consider when selecting a suitable campsite will differ based on who will be accompanying you on this trip. For example, if you’re going with your family, you need to find out if the site is considered child-friendly. If you’re taking your pets along, then you need to find out if pets would be allowed in that area.
Also, many countries and national parks have regulations in place wherever camping is permitted or not. In any case, please be mindful of the nature and wildlife around you and leave your camping spot clean and tidied up.
You should also find out if there are bears, snakes, or other insects or wildlife in that area so you are aware of what situation you might be potentially met with and prepare yourself in advance.
It’s also important to find out the facilities available in that particular area. For example, do they have showers and bathrooms? How about cell service? Is it a completely remote area where it could be difficult to find help in an emergency? Will it have places to eat or some sort of stores nearby to get extra supplies?
You also need to consider if the campsite allows for RVs and has enough space, in case that is how you are choosing to go camping.
With proper planning and consideration, you can find the best campsite that suits your particular needs and has all the required facilities to enhance your camping experience.
Getting A Tent
For those campers who want to camp in a tent instead of an RV, then selecting the right tent for your needs is crucial. Depending on your budget, the number of people going on the camping trip, and other differing factors, you should find a tent accordingly.
It is always better to size up when selecting a tent—for example, getting a tent that fits more people than the number of people going on the trip. This extra space will not only act as a much-needed breathing space, so everyone isn’t as cramped up, it will also give you enough space to easily store your gear. And it will ensure you aren’t stepping on the other person’s toes. Please read my full guide on the best 4-person tents here.
Getting The Sleeping Bags
A sleeping bag can come in handy on a tent camping trip as well as one in an RV. Sleeping bags can be useful in all seasons, but it is important to get a sleeping bag based on the season and check out the temperature ratings of the bags.
It could be more beneficial to select a sleeping bag that can be used in multiple seasons, adaptable to inaccurate weather predictions. This can literally save the trip if you’re hit with different weather than previously expected.
There are also different shapes of sleeping bags, so it’s best to get the one you’d feel most comfortable in. There are the very tight ones where you don’t get much room to move, and there are more rectangular-shaped sleeping bags where you won’t feel as claustrophobic.
Getting A Sleeping Pad
A sleeping pad would be similar to a mattress but optimized for a camping experience. They come in many different high-tech specifications and come insulated, so you don’t lose your body heat.
Sleeping pads are not only a more comfortable sleeping option, but they are also lightweight and easy to take on traveling trips.
You need to check the R-value of the sleeping pad, which determines its level of insulation and warmth. A 2 to 2.5 R-value is sufficient for beginners.
Finding Level Ground
If you are camping in a tent, you need to pitch your tent on level ground. This is not only to give you a comfortable space to sleep, but it is also to avoid getting your tent damaged.
The ground should be flat, possibly grassy. Try to avoid muddy or rocky areas. It should have some drainage if it rains, so the rainwater doesn’t collect and seep into your tent.
Practice Camping At Home
Having a practice camp is good for both RV and tent campers. This is because someone starting as a camper may think that they understand everything, in theory, but it can be a daunting task in practice.
It is always better to fail at home or in a safe zone where you won’t necessarily need to face any consequences and can use this as a learning experience.
It can be good to get a better grasp of the camping experience, and you’ll know where you went wrong in the supplies you may have needed. Perhaps you over-or-under-packed? Maybe find a warmer sleeping bag?
It’s crucial to plan your meals, whether you’re camping in a tent or an RV. It’s always good to plan what supplies you’ll be needing for food. Whether you’re going to be cooking it, if you have the provisions available to cook these meals, etc. It’s also beneficial to have some shops or restaurants nearby just in case you need a backup.
For tent camping, you may need a camp stove to do your cooking, unless there are some campfires or other provisions at the campsite. If you’re looking for something small and cheap, then a two-burner propane camp stove is enough. Just keep some fuel canisters and a lighter with you, and you’re all set.
With an RV, you may already have some facility within the RV for your cooking needs, so you may not need the camp stove. However, what you absolutely need, especially with an RV, is an inverter generator for electric power.
Utensils are always important on a camping trip. This includes plates, cups, pots, spoons, forks, and knives. Instead of separately carrying spoons and forks, you could take sporks to save up on space.
You could carry paper plates if your campsite has some disposal provisions. Otherwise, you could bring the typical dishes along with a towel and some dish soap to keep your dishes clean and maintain proper hygiene.
Camp chairs are a must-have on camping trips. It would help if you had a comfortable place to sit, where you won’t constantly be getting bit by insects as you would on the ground. These are also useful when it may be rainy or muddy and sitting on the ground isn’t viable.
There are a few different types of camping chairs, but you can easily drain water and dry quickly if you get mesh chairs.
Check Out The Campsite Regulations
Don’t forget to check the regulations on your campsite of choice. This will keep you informed about the provisions and amenities available at the site, the different weather warnings, if campfires are allowed during a parched season, etc.
The regulations will also inform you about the spaces available if they allow RVs to enter the campgrounds and much more crucial information. Every camper will need to know when planning their exciting camping trip.
Don’t Forget To Bring Light Sources
When on a camping trip, you can be surprised when you realize just how dark it can get outside at night. This is why it’s essential to bring your light sources, especially if you’re camping in a tent.
Some people may think that a couple of high-quality flashlights are enough, but it may be more convenient to bring a couple of lanterns. You can easily hang these lanterns on your tent and use them to easily place them somewhere to provide light for when you’re cooking your meals.
A headlamp should also be considered when looking for different ways of illumination because this will enable you to keep your hands free and use them for other activities.
Look for Dump Stations
This tip is relevant to our RV campers, but it’s important to know where you can easily dump your tanks and find freshwater to fill them up. You can make use of various apps that will tell you where the dumping stations are located.
According to the location of these dumping stations, you can perhaps plan your trip accordingly so that you don’t need to take a detour that sets you off your path and wastes a ton of time.
Along with the location of the dumping stations, the apps should also inform you of the different amenities and fees that you are estimated to pay at these stops. This way, you can mentally prepare yourself beforehand.
RV camping parks also have hookups where you can empty gray and black tanks and fill them up with fresh water.
Choose The Right RV For You
RVs come in many types and sizes, which is why it’s important to pick the right one according to your budget, the types of facilities required, the number of people on this trip, etc.
It’s important to watch out for the size of the RV, so if you’re going as a large group or a big family, then it might be better if you select 5th wheels or Class. So that it can easily accommodate everyone and provide them with a place to sleep and easily move around. However, if there’s just a couple of people or a solo trip, you can look at smaller options.
You also need to consider if you will need your car for errands, supply runs, or basic exploring purposes. If this is the case, you may prefer to look for a towable RV or a rig that can tow a small car behind it instead of a motorized independent RV.
Find Out The Towing Capacity Of Your Vehicle
If you opt for a towable RV, it’s important first to figure out exactly how much your vehicle can easily tow and then pick an RV according to that towing capacity.
Figuring these things out early will save you the headache of having to rent a different RV on short notice after you find out too late and possibly have to put off your camping trip for a while.
These were 15 points that beginners can use as a guide to make their camping dreams come true. With lockdowns easing and people getting vaccinated, everyone is looking forward to their next vacation or big adventure. Camping could be that adventure for you, as long as you plan responsibly and look out for the essentials that you need.