A few years ago, I joined over other 30 million Americans who find great thrill in camping, hiking and backpacking every year. Its always a thrilling and exciting moment every year. The number grows exponentially every year and I often feel sad when I find people who have absolutely no idea how to go camping making all the wrong pre-camping preparations.
They end up frustrated and vow never to camp again. Too bad for them. Camping is supposed to be a great adventure, not a walk in hell.
Camping is one of the most gratifying, thrilling, exciting and amazing experience I know.
I have been camping for many years, starting from the Scout years in Junior high and in this article, I offer snippets on how to camp like a pro. There is nothing to it, just good preparation.
Just like planning for a road trip, the success of camping depends largely on what you do BEFORE you even start the journey into the woods.
Walk with me as I offer you the absolute guide on how to enjoy your camping experience whether you are a beginner or Pro camper.
- WHY CAMPING?
- HOW TO CAMP
- WHERE TO GO CAMPING
- OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW DURING THIS STAGE
- WHAT TO CARRY FOR CAMPING
- HOW TO SET UP CAMP
There are a number of reasons why camping is gaining popularity across the world very fast.
The Physical benefit of camping
I imagine that one goal of going camping is so that you can have some space and time to stretch, hike and take walks. This is a great exercise and keeps your body feeling healthy and rejuvenated.
Assists in reduction of stress
The serene nature of the forest is an amazingly therapeutic. You no longer have to scream into your pillow or smash ceramic into walls to relieve your stress. Hit the woods, relax, let the serotonin set in and forget you were ever stressed out.
To explore the beauty and wonder of nature
Sometimes you need to explore life beyond your cubicle in the office. What best way than to put on some hiking books, pack a bag and head out into the woods?
Some people may go camping because it offers them the chance to be private and think. You would be surprised at the number of people who go to camping just to meditate.
In other cases, you may drag your partner along for some cool time in the privacy of the woods. There is no greater feeling that beats lying on the ground by a campfire and trying to count stars in the night with your partner by your side.
There’s ample sun in the woods. Take some time off your hectic schedule, head out there and enjoy pure, unadulterated sunshine. Good for your vitamin D boost.
HOW TO CAMP
In a tent
Camping is almost incomplete without a tent. Finding the right tent is an important factor because it can also determine if the experience will be successful and enjoyable or not. Not all tents are designed for camping. Choosing the right size and fit is very important. Check out my ultimate buyer’s guide on camping tents and hammocks.
In an RV
If you can afford it, go for an RV. It definitely packs more than a tent could. However, it is also limited to an extent, particularly in cases where the camping is to occur in mountainous region or woody places which limit access
In a hut
There are some camping grounds which provide huts to campers to sleep in. Personally, I would not find myself sleeping in a hut in the woods but hey, these things come in handy sometimes. There is a reason they are there.
WHERE TO GO CAMPING
There is no limit to where you can go camping, only where you cannot go. Heck even if you want to camp in your own backyard, got for it! Most people prefer going a little farther though. So, how do we choose where to go camping?
To answer that question, I ask a counter one: What’s your camping goal? What do you want to see, do or feel?
If you can answer that question, then you are halfway there. Then ask yourself; Will you be alone, with your partner or in a group?
Some national parks allow camping and others do not. Check out the national parks in your state and find out if they allow camping.
The same case applies when you want to go camping in state parks. Learn in advance which allows campers and the policies they have. It is good to be wholly prepared.
There are campsites all across the world. These are special places set aside for the specific activity of camping. Normally, these places have the amenities you need to make your life easier, not to mention that you are most likely to bump into other campers and have a great time together.
Check out the KOA website for camping places you would like to explore.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW DURING THIS STAGE
There are a bunch of other things you need to know before going out camping
How long you will be camping?
Camping overnight? 2 days? A week? Well, you need to know in advance how long you want to camp. This is important in that it allows you to plan for the various essentials you need to have for the activity. For your comfort, I have prepared a COMPLETE CAMPING ESSENTIALS CHECKLIST. You just need to download and you are good to go!
Weather is a very important element in camping. If you go camping in the wrong season, I can guarantee that you will not enjoy camping. Summer is a favorite season to go camping.
If you have health issues that escalate from exposure to extreme conditions such as too much cold, camping overnight or being out in the woods at night might not be the best of ideas. If you can weather it out or take care of it through proper camping dressing, then I do not see why you cannot enjoy your camping experience.
WHAT TO CARRY FOR CAMPING
You do not have to drag your whole house along with you. However, you do need some specific items if you are going to make your camping a success. The checklist you have downloaded above (hopefully) takes care of practically everything you can think of related to camping. All you need it to check against these items and you are good to go.
No camper goes camping without a good backpack, for obvious reasons. You will need to have a good bag that carries all your essentials and in such a manner that is very comfortable for you. The choice of backpack is very important to any camper.
Personally, I own a TETON SPORTS GRAND BACKBACK, acquired recently and it is perfect for me.
You can choose what fits you well. The choice of one depends on comfort, pricing and spacing.
You want a back pack that has enough space to hold all your essentials, feel good on your back and well-priced. Check out the buyer’s guide and comparison of great camping backpacks
Essentials for sleeping
Well, at some point you will need to grab a wink. You cannot sleep out in the open like a deer, so you need somewhere to lay your head. Being in the bush does not mean you cannot have some luxury and comfort when you sleep. A good night sleep means a lot because it allows you to regain energy so that you can continue your exploration the next day. For sleep, you need:
– A sleeping bag
Once again, I will stress on the importance of getting the right kind of gear and a good sleeping bag can offer you great comfort.
If you get a cheap, or low quality sleeping bag, you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to give your back a rest!
LIGHTWEIGHT & EXTREMELY PORTABLE SLEEPING BAG FOR ONE
- Feather light- No need to break your back with unnecessary loads
- Water proof- No need to worry about soaking wet while camping
- Very Portable- Just fold it into its bag and you are good to go
- Very Comfortable- rest easy and relax after a long day
- Very popular– check reviews
- Designed for a single person
- A little pricey for a common bag
– A sleeping pad
Nowadays, things have really improved. You no longer have to drag a four-inch thick mattress along with you for camping. It might make you look tough but really, it’s just extra baggage. These days all you need is a good inflatable sleeping pad. You will be surprised how comfortable these things are. It’s like sleeping on air! (Really, it is like sleeping on air).
– A pillow
I do not have to go into detail for this. Just find something comfortable that works for you. You do not want to wake up in the morning feeling as if your neck had been doing kung-fu the whole night.
Well, this is where the whole matter lies. Consider a tent as your home in the woods. And it really is your home here.
I have seen people go to camp with tents that would make your grandmother want to cry.
Naturally, something bad always happens in such a situation. You have to invest in a good tent if you really want to enjoy your stay and camping.
Besides tents, you can get a hammock. Hammock are becoming really popular in camping and some companies are taking these products onto a whole different level. My hammock is an absolutely lovable item. It offers great comfort and relaxation. I can whiz a lazy afternoon away reading a detective thriller or just grabbing a wink.
Check out how others are taking the hammock comfort to a whole new crazy level
You will need fire at some point in your camping. It could be for cooking, evening relaxation and enjoyment by the camp fire or simply to wade off possibility of attack by animals in some instances.
You might be camping in the forest but that does not necessarily guarantee that you will find wood to use for your fire. The wood might be damp when you find it. So it’s advisable to carry some dry woods yourself.
- Propane stove, skillet and other utensils
You need a reliable stove to cook your meals. You will also need utensils. Carry as needed.
Well, I do not expect you will be out hunting. Not many camping sites allow this. However, if you are into hunting and its legal wherever you are, check out our buyers’ guide to the best crossbows. Get canned food or make some. Here is a list of possible recipes for campers.
Dress for the occasion. Try to avoid cotton sweaters and such. Those are quite comfortable in the house but out there, in the woods, you will want to wear clothing that does not soak in moisture. You can wear cotton or synthetic socks if you so wish. Synthetic clothing will also serve to keep your body dry, sweat free and comfortable.
Hoping to take a dip in the natural pool at the bottom of a fountain? You can carry a swimsuit. Or not.
Gadgets are designed for two reasons while camping in the woods: They are a source of entertainment and they are also important in cases emergencies occur. However, I would highly advice not to turn on those gadgets. Just enjoy the serenity of the woods.
You will need light at night. I highly doubt you will be camping in a place that is serviced by electricity. Get some good, affordable and quality flashlights, specifically designed for camping. They are water proof, zoomable and work in practically any kind of weather. If you are an extremist like me, you can go for the TITAN high powered, rechargeable 10W, blinding flashlight from amazon. Ensure that you have some extra batteries just in case something happens
This is the extreme battery, offering amazing power for different kind of uses. When you are out in the woods, you do not want to lose power on your gadgets and devices. The Mohrco Solar charging power bank will take care of you easily, without the slightest struggle. Its solar powered cells ensure that the power bank recharges itself when there is some sunlight. It’s also practically indestructible and totally waterproof.
Cost = $89.99. BUY MOHRCO
|THE PRODUCT INTRODUCTION||QUALITY TEST|
Yes, you may be camping out in the woods, but this does not need to turn you into a beast. You still need to observe some semblance of hygiene. Pack your toothbrush and toothpaste. Also pack some bathing soap. It is advisable to carry pure organic, non-perfumed soap, if you care about the environment. I suggest the Meiling buttered and unscented Organic soap available on amazon.
Another thing, you noticed in your downloaded essentials pdf checklist that there was a shovel included.
What do you think that’s for? I will let you ponder that for a second.
Well, as a normal human being, you will need to answer the call of nature. Don’t just walk out into the woods to do your business in some bush. You are not a rabbit. Dig a hole with the shovel, do your thing, then cover it up. See? eco-friendly stuff right there!
Carry a first Aid kit. We are not saying that you will get bruises or broken bones or anything grisly like that, but it’s important to be well prepared. Carry a well-stocked first aid kit. In it, include some sunscreen and creams that are perfect for your kind of skin. To find out some of the conditions that might necessitate the use of a first aid kit and what to include in the kit, read about how having a first aid kit might save your life.
Document your camping experience
You are already probably way ahead of me on this one. You might want to record or take photos of your interaction with nature. How else will your friends know what an amazing time you had while they brooded in their offices?
Carry cameras, books and even binoculars. Watch and document what you see, the different kinds of birds, the stars etc. Have your fun and let the world know about it.
HOW TO SET UP CAMP
Now that you have succeeded in going through the checklist, bought everything you need for the camping experience of your life and travelled to the camping ground, it’s time to do the actual camping. There are a few tips to assist you set up a good camp.
THE SUNDOME 4 PERSON TENT
See how to pitch this tent
Assuming you are to pitch a tent (first thing to do after unloading your gear), ensure that the tent is pitched well.
- Pitch on a flat but slightly sloping ground
Identify a relatively flat but slightly sloping ground. You do not want to pitch your tent on a very flat ground as this may be an issue if it rains hard and water decides to accumulate, leading to clogging and flooding. You also don’t want to set up tent in a dip for similar reasons. Water will flow into your tent easily and flood.
You also don’t want to set up the tent on a rocky ground. That’s more to do with comfort issues.
A slightly sloping, relatively flat space is the best one. It will allow water to flow freely in the case of hard rain.
Also scout the area to make sure that there are no sharp objects such as nails, broken bottles, sharp pointed sticks that could make your camping uncomfortable.
- Clear vegetation
Clear vegetation around and give the tent enough space. The perimeter wall should be at least 5 meters away If possible. This prevents rude surprises from animals and other intruders.
- Ensure tent is well tied down
Ensure that the tent is pegged well, rigid and taut. Tents are tough, stop treating them like fragile children. The tent opening should not face the direction of the wind. You do not want the cold wind blowing into your tent profusely when you are trying to sleep. It also prevents specks of fire from being blown into your way after you set up the camp fire. Most of these tents are made of canvas and synthetic material that is a real enemy to any kind of fire.
If you are using a hammock, find two good and strong trees to hang your hammock. Tie tightly and enjoy.
- Dig a small trench round the tent
this is not absolutely necessary but you may find it useful in the event it rains hard. You do not want water to flow into your tent. A small trench round the tent takes care of this little problem pretty well.
Camp near running water
Running water is important for cleaning utensils, bathing and fetching water for basic use around the camp. You may also need some clean drinking water at some point. However, ensure that you boil the water before you drink, as a safety precaution. Better yet, use a water filtration bottle going for $20 on amazon. The bottle eliminates the need to boil water by instantly purifying it, allowing you to have 100% clean, germ free drinking water at all times.
Hang your food above ground
This is something I learnt the hard way a couple of times. You realize that in the woods, you are not alone. You are a guest in the animal kingdom. You may not see them but there are rodents and other small animals lying in wait to take advantage of you leaving food around carelessly. The best way to beat them is to place the food in a waterproof food bag and suspend it in the air. There are many affordable, foldable food bags designed specifically for this purpose.
It is not possible for me to exhaust the kind of gear and gadgets available for camping. There are thousands of camping gear and kit available for sale in different avenues, mainly amazon. The choice of gadget you use depends totally on you.
However, ensure that what you get has more of quality versus quantity. You do not want stuff failing on you in the bush where the nearest shop is probably many miles away. This list contains everything you need to know and have to be able to enjoy the best camping experience of your life.
If you use my advice and hit some woods in future, I would love to hear about your experience.