Your First Campout
Discover the Truth about First-time Camping
Family Camping Bargains
Essential Camping Gear and Camping Checklist
Choosing the Right Tent
Sleeping Bag Facts
Staying Dry and Warm
Economical Camp Stoves
Easy Camping Recipes
Quick Course on Dutch Ovens
Camping Meals without Pots and Pans!
Easy Meal Cleanup
Building a Fun and Safe Campfire
More Camping Resources
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Essential Camping Gear for Beginner Campers
I have taken all the guesswork out of selecting the right gear for your first campout. Let’s keep it simple, “Light and Useful”, is my motto. First-time campers should not be afraid of not knowing what to bring or what equipment to select. Consider me your “Camp Master” along this journey!
There are only a few essentials for a great campout. The rest of the equipment is optional and is pretty much based upon how much gear you want to lug around and the level of comfort you desire.
Shelter, a bed and food are the basic essentials of life! So, it’s no surprise that you would also need those to enjoy camping. ☺
Shelter comes in many forms. In fact, if the bugs aren’t bad and there’s no rain in the forecast, sleeping under the stars is a magical way to end the day. But for enjoyable family camping I suggest that you pick a camping tent that will support the needs of your family. You can quick link to there by clicking on: “How to Chose the Right Tent for Your Campout” or stay here and learn some more about tents.
Tents come in three basic shapes: A-frame, Dome tents and Walled tents. A-frame tents, shaped like the letter “A”, are typically small, durable and sleep 2-3 people. They usually come with a waterproof floor, mosquito (no-see-um) screen vents and doors. The breathable fabric allows the moisture from inside to be released while the waterproof rain fly protects the outside.
The advent of flexible poles provided for the development of Dome tents. The poles bend over the body of the tent and give it plenty of stability, even in strong winds. This is probably the most popular tent shape you will see around today. They have spacious interiors with plenty of headroom and I’ve even seen multi-room Dome tents that provide a room for your gear and a room for you.
Lastly Walled tents are large “condo” looking tents with walls, a ceiling and lots of room. A ridgepole runs between upright poles to hold the tent up. They basically use the same wall materials (nylon and polyester) as the A-frame and Dome tents, but are more bulky to transport and more difficult to setup. But for long campouts you can’t beat ‘em!
A good sleeping bag that will keep you warm at night is the key to camping comfort, but may not be that comfortable unless you’re using a sleeping pad between you and the ground. A sleeping pad will prevent the cold ground from zapping away your body heat while you sleep and will give you a cushy sleep surface. Your best choices for pads are foam, self-inflating pads, or my favorite – air mattress. Ya, I know, what a wussy! When my back started giving me problems on the self-inflating pad, I moved to an air mattress. I sleep better and can adjust the firmness for my back. My 12-year-old son loves his pad. So, you may want to consider the less expensive pad for the kids and the mattress for you and your wife.
On top of the pad goes your comfortable sleeping bag. The cloth or nylon outer fabric of the sleeping bag is called the shell. Inside the shell is the fill material of synthetic fiber or down feathers from ducks or geese. The fill traps your body heat and holds it close to you for a comfortable night’s sleep. If you are too hot, simply regulate the heat by opening the zipper. Too cold, add a blanket. For more information on sleeping bags you can quick link by clicking on: “The Straight Facts on Sleeping Bags”.
Food, and the preparation of it, is the last essential requirement for enjoyable camping. This is the part that can be easy or exotic. If you are on your first campout you probably want to take the easy road until you get more comfortable with cooking outdoors. So, bring food that you like to eat! How about hot dogs with corn-on-the-cob and then some brownies and milk for dessert? For the morning you can scramble some eggs, bacon, orange juice, brown some toast, and have some coffee. All the perishable items will fit into a cooler that is easy to transport and store.
Additionally, you’ll need a camp stove and a cooking kit consisting of pots and pans. I will cover camp stoves in more detail in: “Economical Camp Stoves that Will Cook Anything”. Some disposable plates, cups and utensils and you are almost there! Most campsites have a picnic table and grill or BBQ of some sort, so bring some charcoal for those hot dogs and marshmallows!
The idea of the “Essentials” is to give you the basic, must-have items to make your first campout not too over burdening and fun. As you get more experience you will undoubtedly add to this list. Here’s a handy checklist of the items I just spoke about:
Camping Essentials – Checklist