The Ultimate Guide for First-time Campers

ultimate guide for first-time campers

Camping has always been regarded as an exciting outdoor activity by many.

Even the most urbane of creatures would get that incessant urge to get out of the city and explore the great outdoors, take in the picturesque scenery and gain a better appreciation for nature.

After all, while living in the city keeps us in our convenient and comfortable bubble, the perpetual hustle and bustle of it all tend to be a little stifling. 

As a result, a lifestyle constrained only to the concrete walls and paved roads of the city would make us feel a little claustrophobic which would then compel us to seek wide and open spaces.

With that in mind, it should come as no wonder that camping has been slowly gaining traction as a weekend leisure activity—even among the biggest of urbanites and novices. 

If you find yourself contemplating getting away and contemplating car camping for the first time, know that your level of comfort depends on how prepared you are. In this regard, you should find the right gear and do the necessary research before setting off. 

While all of these might sound overwhelming and just a tad bit overwhelming to camping newbies, do not fret. This article serves mainly to guide you and allay any camping apprehension you might have.

Keep in mind that we are all beginners at one point—even the most seasoned of campers once fumbled their way through the campsite. So, be patient with yourself. However, be mindful of the mistakes the experienced campers commit and learn from them. 

Remember what those common mistakes are and what even the most seasoned campers tend to overlook. With all that, you can be a smart and happy camper. In any case, below are some of the most useful tips for beginner campers.  

Things First-time Campers Need to Know

A. Camp gear

Camping is pretty much sleeping in your own makeshift home—a primitive cabin if you may (just sans the cabin itself). So, aside from your tent, pack as though you are going someplace where there is no electricity, stove, refrigerator and little to no furniture.

Developed campgrounds may have running water and a communal bathroom, but typical campsites only have the barest minimum (a place to park a car, a table and a place to pitch a tent).

In this regard, you need to be more than just a little prepared with your gear. Here are some of the things you will need:

Tent

 Most people tend to look at tents as primarily their sleeping place and nothing else. However, bear in mind that if your car gets a little full, the tent can also serve as an extra storage space for your belongings.

If your budget permits, always go with a bigger tent. A 3 person tent gives a couple a little extra legroom while a family of four has enough breathing room in a 6 person tent.

Sleeping bag

Invest in a good sleeping bag that feels like you are sleeping on a mattress. More importantly, the sleeping bag you choose should have enough insulation to prevent you from losing body heat on the cold ground.

Lighting

Campsites typically do not have enough illumination which constrains you to bring your own. While a flashlight is okay, it requires one of your hands to be constantly occupied.

A headlamp frees both of your hands while giving you constant illumination. Bringing lanterns is also a good idea for ambient light. We love the black diamond headlamps here at WK Adventures.

Cooler

Your cooler serves as your makeshift fridge. If you already have one at home then it would probably work just fine. Just be sure that it is big enough for all of your perishable food, drinks along with some ice. We suggest getting a Coleman steel belted cooler or a Yeti for durability and insulation

Stove

You do not need anything fancy. A simple two-burner propane camp stove would do more than enough as you can cook your breakfast while simultaneously preparing your morning brew at the same time. The Coleman Propane 2 burner stove is a camp classic.

Utensils

Bring everything you might need for food preparation unless you have prepared the food prior to leaving and all it would require is to be heated up in a pan.

Along with that, bring anything you might need for food consumption (plates, forks, and spoons). As it is, the more convenient option is to go with disposable utensils.

However, if you wish to be more sustainable, bring ceramic plates. Just be sure to bring soap and scrubbers as well unless you want to take dirty dishes back home.

Here are some of the items we love using:

B. Camp wear

If you have committed to going camping, you should not be afraid to get dirty. In this regard, only wear clothes that you are not afraid of getting stained. Generally, wearing cotton is not recommended as it makes you cold when it gets wet. Do not forget to pack a jacket or sweater to keep you warm and a pair of sensible and sturdy shoes for your feet.

C. Camp toiletries

Bring with you all the necessary prescription medications you have. Along with that, be sure to pack bandages, other OTC medicines from home and hygiene items.

However, be prepared with a separate first-aid kit with a comprehensive set of supplies.

D. Camp meals

Ideally, camp meals should be simple and straightforward unless you are an accomplished chef who can whip up pre-prepared meals that only require heating up. For camping excursions, it is best to go with boxed or canned entrees and side dishes.

Alternatively, you can go with fresh food or a combo of all of them so long as they are not too complicated to prepare and cook. Just be sure to pack a lot of snacks and fixings as they do not require any cooking and are easy to munch on.

If you need your morning coffee or tea mix, your options range from instant coffee or tea bags to a stovetop percolator. Bear in mind that the latter would only add to the total weight of the items you bring.

Tips for First-time Campers

1.) Find a campground close to home

For novice campers, it is a good idea to camp close to home. If the weather starts going south, you can always bail and return home immediately. If you live in Metro Manila, here are some of the closest campsites you can try.

2.) Familiarize with your gear

Whether you bought new gear, used your old ones or borrowed them, trying them out beforehand is paramount. Assemble your tent, start up your camp stove or blow up your sleeping pad to check for any leaks.

Testing your equipment is important as you want to make sure that everything is in working order. After all, no one wants to be stuck with a broken tent when the weather takes a bad turn.

3.) Create a checklist

Having a checklist is imperative as it is essential in keeping track of the items you need for the camp. Incidentally, it is an excellent way to tally the items you have brought to camp with you and ensure that you do not leave anything.

Use it while packing and check off each item. Similarly, check off each item when packing on your way home. Update and revise your list as needed.

4.) Plan your activities

To avoid getting bored while at camp, be sure to plan your camp activities days beforehand. This is especially important if you are bringing your kids with you and are planning on going on a digital detox.

Some of the activities you can do to amuse yourself for hours is to bring along board games, go on scavenger hunts, fly a kite, play football and even do some crafting with craft items.

5.) Check the weather beforehand

Unless you are a glutton for punishment, it is always best to check the weather before leaving for camp. While camping is all about roughing it and enjoying the great outdoors, it is still an activity that encourages you to relax and enjoy the outdoor scenery.

With this in mind, do not go camping when a storm is brewing or when you know that the weather is going to be foul. Check for the weather beforehand and know whether you can make it to your camping trip.

6.) Arrive at the campsite early

To get familiar with the campgrounds, it is advised that you arrive early. More importantly, arriving early helps you orient yourself to the campground’s rules as well as their amenities.

Give yourself enough time to learn the campground layout, set everything up and make yourselves comfortable.

7.) Observe the campsite rules

Apart from being aware of what the campground rules are, it is also important to take note of a few unspoken rules as well. Campsites generally have no privacy which means sound travels so well as campgrounds are devoid of noise pollution.

In this regard, a noisy camper can easily disturb a neighboring tent with sleeping campers. With this in mind, always observe quiet hours.

Respect the space other campers have chosen and do not walk through another campsite just to get someplace. 

With the following tips above, you are sure to have an exciting and relaxing camping experience. Just enjoy the journey and do not forget to have fun!

As beginners do not be afraid to make mistakes as it is all part of the fun and allows you to learn a few things about camping as well.

Happy trails, first-time campers!

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