We speak to lots of people that want to get out and camp, many of them just don’t know what they need or what to expect, so they put it off, month after month and that ends up being year after year, and they’re always wanting to go and camp but never do.
We all know that camping is a great way to get out there and explore new places. This article is for you if you are new to camping. If you have never been camping before don’t worry, this will help get you started on your way.
So let’s look at the three most important areas – some shelter, a sleeping bag, and something to cook on.
To keep this simple the easiest shelter for a camper have is a tent. It’s an important piece of gear and serves a few purposes; it protects you from the weather, be that rain, wind, snow and sun, it’s also great protection from insects such as flies and mosquitoes, but also spiders and other bugs.
A tent gives you a place that is yours, to store your clothing and gear out of the weather and away from the eyes of other campers. It is a place of privacy for when you need it. You can sleep out under the stars if you like, but as the weather can be fickle, it is good to have a tent as a backup.
When choosing a tent to take camping, think about where you are going and what the weather will be like. If you can choose a four-season tent, you can camp at any time of the year, if you’re only going to be camping in the summer a lighter weight (and often cheaper) tent will suffice.
The size of tent you need is dependent on how many people you need to get into it, be aware though that it’s better to have it slightly too big than too small and tents are generally snug if you go by the description, if you need to sleep 4 people, get a 5 or 6 person tent for comfort.
If you are hiking be aware of the weight of the tent as you will need to carry it. It’s generally true to say that the lighter the tent the more it’s going to cost.
So, your tent is covered, the next item we are going to look at is your sleeping bag (and sleeping Mat), after all, we all need a good nights rest.
Sleeping Bag & Sleeping Pad
One thing you to remember is that tent floors are thin, so there’s no padding, you can feel every rock, lump, twig and pine cone through your sleeping bag, but even more importantly you need something to insulate you from the cold floor of the tent which is in contact with the cold ground.
This comes in the form of a sleeping pad of some kind. There are many different types of sleeping pad, close cell foam ones are light, roll up and cheap, they’re where a lot of new campers start, they will help you be more comfortable and insulate you from the cold. For more comfort, you can get inflatable pads that are filled with an expanding foam inner and these range from an inch thick to about 4 inches thick, something that thick would be the ultimate in comfort and warmth, but the price would be weight and cost.
For your sleeping bag, select one that suits the time of year you are going camping, they come in 5 seasons, there are the summer weight bags right through to arctic rated bags for seriously cold temperatures.
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Many people end up with two or three sleeping bags so they can use one that’s is appropriate for the time of year they’re going camping. To start with buying a sleeping bag that will cover you for more than you’re expecting, so if you’re looking at camping in the summer buy a three season bag that will be good for the spring and autumn as well. If your bag feels too warm it’s easy to unzip it a bit and cool down, if it’s not warm enough it’s a lot harder to deal with.
For a starter sleeping bag look at synthetic materials, they’re easier to wash and store, they’re hard wearing, and you can look at other types of sleeping bags such as down when you have more experience, and you know you want to spend more money on your camping equipment.
Cooking outdoors is great fun and it’s one of the reasons that so many people love the outdoors. You can even practice some fo your meal ideas at home if you want to. Most public camping grounds have grills and picnic tables for you to use. It is worth researching the area you’re going to be camping in so you can get fuel for the grill which is usually gas or charcoal.
Often camping areas have no cooking facilities so you would need to take your own stove, You can buy gas stoves that run on propane or other gas mixtures, and these can range in size and power from small pocket-sized cookers through to big multi ring setups for group cooking.
Having a reliable stove can make a huge difference to your enjoyment, a hot meal, cup of coffee and putting your feet up in front of the fire, doesn’t that sound good!
The secret of a good camp is to plan for it, a good thing to have is a checklist so that you take all the essential items you need. Be familiar with the camping gear and the personal belongings you want to take; print or write this list and use it when you are packing up to leave, so you know nothing is left behind. Revise it as you gain knowledge and experience and reuse it time and time again.
It is always worth talking face to face with an expert, if you have a local outdoor store drop in and talk to them, there’s a good chance that the staff will be outdoor people that use the equipment and so will be able to give good advice to new campers as well as more experienced outdoors people.
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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