Everybody is different and one person’s first time camping checklist is another man’s toilet paper, well maybe not that extreme, but not everybody needs or wants the same things while out camping.
So we are going to concentrate on the main things that you will need to get by with and some extras to make your camping trip that little bit easier or more enjoyable, especially if you have never been camping before.
This first time camping checklist is particularly focused on those that are thinking of going camping for the first time, so some things are blindingly obvious, but can easily be forgotten if you do not prepare properly before setting off on your adventure.
Every camping trip is different, some people will go for a weekend and just take a tent, others will go for a week traveling around in a camper van, so there is no one list that fits all.
Essential camping gear
Now, these are the main things that you will need on a camping trip if you take nothing else but the things listed in this section you will get by just fine.
Pretty much the first thing you will need is somewhere to stay, somewhere that will keep you safe, warm and dry. Make sure you check that all fixings are with your tent and packed away properly.
If you have a new tent, then always get it out at home or preferably in your garden and put it up before you go on your adventure. You need to make sure that when you get to your camping destination, that you have all of the pieces and that you know how to assemble your tent.
Whether you are in the height of summer or the depths of winter, you need a good quality sleeping bag to keep you warm and cozy. Whether you are camping in a tent or a camper van, always have your sleeping bag handy, it can literally be a lifesaver if the temperature drops off at night time.
Invest in a good quality sleeping bag that will fit your size and cover you properly. Get one made from warm fabrics and that can protect you in harsh weather conditions.
First Aid kit
Wherever you go, you need to take a first aid kit with you. Even if you are a seasoned camper, anything can happen to you while you are out and about, having a bandage or some plasters at the ready can really help you out in the unfortunate circumstances that you hurt yourself.
Even if you are not clumsy, out in the wild you are at the mercy of the animals and the weather, so you need to prepare for any eventuality.
Now this one is obvious, but it is more to do with what sort of clothes to bring. It is always good to take some thermal underwear or body suit as even in the summer temperatures can drop uncomfortably low.
But, it is also important to wear layers and get the appropriate clothing that you can easily take off if necessary. Trekking for long periods of time can make you very warm, so being able to quickly remove a layer and later put it back on can be very beneficial.
Taking a range of footwear can also be a wise idea, hiking boots for those long trails, water shoes for bathing or swimming in unknown water sources and general all-purpose shoes for around the camp. They can take up some room, but it is essential to be comfortable and protected when out camping.
The chances are you will do most of your relaxing at camp during nighttime hours, especially if you plan on trekking or seeing the environment around your camping area. So having some lanterns, flashlights or other light sources is really a must-have when you go camping.
Have some general lanterns that you can dot around the campsite, this saves you having to carry around a torch everywhere you go. You can get some lanterns that work solely on solar energy, but these tend to be a bit weaker than battery powered ones. If you have a few, they can be good markers to let you see where you are going at least especially on those late night trips to the toilet.
We recommend a headlamp, these can be very powerful and because they are strapped to the front of your head, the light is always in the direction you are looking in. But one of the main reasons to choose a headlamp rather than a normal flashlight is that it frees both your hands up to do other things, like cooking and fighting bears (Depending on what country you are camping in of course).
Now you will need to either create a fire or have some sort of portable stove around for you to keep warm, but to mainly be able to cook some food for yourself. A lot of people take matches, but these can be cumbersome and very often blow out before you can transfer the flame. So it is best to take a heavy duty lighter (or two) that work in harsh windy conditions.
We also recommend investing in some kind of gas stove, or stove where you can add wood and get up and running quickly. Sometimes you won’t be able to get a big campfire going, it takes a lot of energy to get one going, so it is always best to have a second option available.
Food and snacks
You need to keep those hunger pangs away and keep energized while on any camping trip. Prepare food to be cooked in Ziploc bags and keep things as much as possible in a cooler to keep things fresh.
Take lots of snacks for those moments trekking or when you just can’t be bothered to cook anything at meal times.
And one of your best friends, whenever you talk about food and camping, is tin foil, great for storing food in and wrapping your food in and placing on the fire to cook. It is important to make your food preparation and cooking as simple as possible while camping.
So, if all you do is remember these things, you will be able to camp with the best of them. Maybe you would like a few more luxuries and equipment but there is no need to go overboard. Having a few things can actually be beneficial if you want to experience camping the way it is supposed to be.