I’ve been an avid camper for many years – more years than I’d care to admit, in fact. I’ve slept in every style of tent, camped in every sort of weather, and crisscrossed the UK and Europe. With my fair share of experience, I offer up these eight tips for first-time campers.
1) Don’t Break The Bank Buying Equipment
When you’re first trying to figure out if camping will be a real passion for you, there’s no need to start off by racking up huge bills buying gear. Look for cheap ways to equip yourself for your first adventures. Do you have a camping friend from whom you can borrow a tent? You might even look into starting off by booking a clamping break with a company that provides high-quality equipment for you.
If you do buy your own equipment for your first trip, start off cheap. You can often get a good deal on used tents on eBay. Supermarkets and big box stores usually stock affordable tents in the summer.
2) Buy A Bigger Tent Than You Think You Need
You’re planning to take three people camping so that 3-man A-frame tent looks perfect, right? Think again! With all of your equipment, including camp beds or air mattresses, that tent is unlikely to sleep three people in any sort of comfort. Tent occupancy ratings are predicated on very friendly people sleeping on very narrow mats, covering the entire floor of the tent in bodies.
More space is always better when it comes to tents according to All Camping Stuff. This rule is particularly important if you’re car camping: You don’t have to haul your tent on your back, so weight is not a high priority. Crowding into a tent that piles you on top of your companions is a perfect recipe for waking up cranky.
Vertical space is important, too. For comfort and convenience, a head-height tent is a great idea. Being able to stand up undercover makes a significant positive difference.
3) Night Time Is Usually Colder Than You Think
Even in the warmest months, nighttime temperatures tend to be significantly cooler than the days. This is true in such a wide range of climates that first-time campers should always equip themselves for the rule rather than the exception. Take extra blankets with you and stay warm by bundling up in layers when you sleep.
4) Try To Cut The Electric Cord
Finding a campsite with an electric hook up (EHU) will complicate your trip planning process and sharply limit the range of destinations available to you. If you feel it’s essential to power up some devices, like smartphones, solar chargers are an affordable take-anywhere option. For other gadgets and appliances, remind yourself to be strict about defining “essential.” Lugging a curling iron into the woods, for example, is a futile gesture. Nobody’s going to care how your hair looks when you’ve been camping for several days!
5) Plan For The Worst Your Climate Has To Offer
As I noted in my introduction, I live in the UK. That means I’m used to nasty weather; I’m typing this up in mid-July and I’m wearing winter boots and long underwear as I do it.
Regardless of how confident you are in both the general climate and the short-term forecast for your camping area, pack for adverse weather. You should always have extra insulating layers and waterproof outer clothes handy, just in case.
6) Buy Gear Out Of Season For Savings
I know I mentioned tents are easy to find in the big stores during the summer. This is also when camping gear is at its most expensive thanks to maximum demand. If you decide to go in for camping in a big way, try to purchase gear outside of this peak camping season.
I do most of my big purchases in early spring or winter. You may also be able to get some good deals in end-of-season sales. Look for these to start springing up as the summer heat fades, in late August or September.
7) Economize By Buying Last Year’s Tent
All consumer goods evolve over time, and tents are particularly changeable. Popular models get updated frequently; most manufacturers add new features on a yearly basis. There will always be a premium attached to a cutting-edge tent.
You can save – often very significantly – by seeking out older tents. Retailers tend to discount them heavily in order to make room for new models.
8) Plan Thoroughly, Especially For Kids
Taking kids on a camping trip usually involves separating them from familiar pastimes. In fact, you might consider the “digital detox” effect to be a major benefit of camping with your kids. You need to have sound plans in place for filling up their time!
Some kids will be pleased and safe running off and making their own fun. Others require more structure. You know your own children; make a customized judgment of how many activities you need to prepare.
Kites, paints, cards, binoculars, frisbees, board games, nature books, and binoculars can all be effective tools for preventing boredom on a camping trip.