You’ve decided to go tent camping and made a reservation at a campground. Now you need to go about acquiring the items needed to make this trip work. Remember that camping trips like these are driving trips, it is not practical to fly with all of this stuff.
I cannot stress this enough, BORROW as much as you can the first time or two you go camping. Once you know you will camp regularly, then buy your own supplies. If you think you don’t know anyone who has any equipment, ask around and find a Boy Scout, particularly a Boy Scout leader. You would not believe the amount of camping equipment that resides in these homes.
What you need, in no particular order:
- A tent with a rainfly (make sure that all of the seams have been sealed and the sealant has dried before packing it up, get the instructions on how to put it together too)
- A ground cloth (a piece of thick plastic that is the size of the bottom of the tent, bigger is better as you can tuck in the edges)
- A hammer to drive in the tent stakes
- A sleeping bag for each person
- An air mattress or thick pad for each person
- A lantern of some kind to light the inside of the tent and the picnic table area (your site with usually have one)
- S’mores makings – marshmallows, chocolate bars, graham crackers, roasting sticks
- Cups, Plates, bowls, utensils (try to bring reusable ones, you are in nature after all)
- Kitchen towels and paper towels
- Dish soap and sponge for cleaning dishes
- Garbage bags – leave the site as you found it or better
- Food for meals you plan to eat at the campsite – SIMPLE is better. Your first time out it may be best to make sandwiches and things that don’t require cooking. Cooking over a fire or camp stove can be tricky and will usually take longer than you think. Delayed meals make for cranky campers.
- Water bottles
- Cooler – large, hard-sided with a drain near the bottom is best. You can buy ice at the camp store. (usually $1-$3 per bag)
- Cooking pots, pans, & utensils if you plan to cook
- Camp stove – try it out in your backyard ahead of time!
- Extra fuel for camp stove
- Matches or starter for camp stove as needed
- Flashlights (1 per person)
- Extra batteries for flashlights
- Deck of cards – everyone plays cards while camping, I don’t know why
- Flip flops for shower
- Plastic container for shower supplies (1 per person)
- Towels (shower and beach/pool)
- Clothes appropriate for your activities. Long pants and hiking boots are best for hiking in the woods in most parts of the U.S. due to deer ticks and the threat of Lyme Disease.
- Extra pair of shoes per person. Shoes, especially kids’ shoes, always get wet while camping.
- Day packs especially if you plan to hike.
- Bug spray
- Hats – wide-brimmed or baseball hats are best
- Rain jackets or ponchos
- Flexibility – this is a new experience, roll with it.
- It is best to pack cooking items and food in plastic tubs (think rubbermaid products or similar)
- Clothes are usually best packed in duffle bags but if you are worried about more than one day of rain, plastic tubs are best here too.
- Newspaper and matches to start a fire
- You generally don’t need to bring firewood (and in many places aren’t allowed to due to the risk of transporting bugs). Wood is generally available at the camp store, usually about $5 per bundle. Note, if it is a particularly dry season/summer you may find you ARE NOT ALLOWED to have an open fire even in the fire ring at your site due to the risk of wildfires.
- Quarters and laundry soap – there are usually laundry facilities
Title picture – By Eeekster (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, text added by Dream Depart Explore
2nd picture – By Josh Larios from Seattle, US (DSC00163.JPG) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons