So it’s your first time camping! Time to take in the beautiful outdoors and spend some quality time with your family. But understanding what essential camping gear for beginners is and what you can leave to the experts can be difficult. Our beginners’ guide to camping will give you some camping basics and what you need to make your first camping trip a success.
Something often overlooked when going camping for the first time, is to research your campsite and local area before your trip. Find out about local events and festivals, so that you can participate (or avoid!) as you wish. If you’re taking the whole family camping for the first time, look out for local outdoor activities to get the kids involved with.
Try not to overload yourselves with belongings you won’t need. Make sure you pack the essentials:
• basic toiletries
• food and water
• camping equipment If you’re taking pets, pack their food and anything you need to keep them comfortable like beds, toys and cages. Take bits to keep the kids entertained in case of bad weather and pack with bad weather in mind.
Best camping gear for beginners
It wouldn’t be a beginners’ guide to camping if we didn’t explain what you’ll need. What to take camping can be as simple or as complicated as you choose. Depending on where and when you set up pitch, your essential camping gear for beginners should include:
• A sturdy, waterproof tent big enough for the whole family and waterproof ground cover. Make sure you have sturdy stakes to keep your tent in place and take extra tarpaulin or canopy for emergencies.
• A sleeping bag for each camper. Make sure that everyone is nice and cosy by investing in a weather-suitable sleeping bag for all campers and remember to take a soft pillow with you. For extra comfort overnight, try placing a roll mat underneath each sleeping bag to ensure you’re all bright-eyed and bushy tailed come the sunrise.
• Durable and lightweight backpacks for everyone to carry equipment. Spread the load and make sure you’ve got everything you need by taking spacious and durable bags.
• Medical supplies. Accidents happen, so it’s important to stay prepared and have a first-aid kit to hand. Pack lots of plasters (including blister plasters), sanitiser, insect repellent and bite creams, painkillers such as paracetamol, small medium and large gauze dressings and medical tape to keep them down. When going camping for the first time with children, we’ve found taking a digital thermometer useful.
• A basic wash kit, including a travel towel, essential toiletries, a camping toilet seat and toilet paper.
• Food preparation equipment such as a camping cooker (gas stove), pots and pans, cutlery and washing up liquid to clean up afterwards. Don’t forget salt and pepper to season your food.
• Torches, lights and lanterns. Head torches are particularly useful when camping with the children, as they allow you to keep your hands free while moving in the dark.
• Weather-appropriate clothing like jackets and waterproof trousers. Plan your clothing according to the climate, terrain and activities you plan on doing while camping. Make sure you have sturdy walking boots if you’re off to explore your surroundings.
• Maps and local area information to make sure you can always find your way back.
Cooking and food
If you’re not packing ready-to-eat food, then you’ll need to cook while you’re there. Avoid food that needs to be kept cold, such as raw meats or fresh milk. Instead, try cooking your meat ahead of the trip and long-life or UHT milk alternatives. Take tinned food where you can as this helps cut down cooking preparation before your adventure. Depending on the length of your trip, if you need to keep things cold, fill a large cooler with ice or freezable blocks and only open when adding or removing items.
Exploring the wilderness
When camping with the kids, exploring the outdoors can be great fun. Try map reading, identifying plants and wildlife spotting. You can even play games or plan outdoor activities like building tepees from branches and twine. Even if it’s not your first time camping, always make sure you agree a ‘meeting point’ with your children, where they should meet you should they get lost. Especially important if the area is new to your children, this can be a large structure, building or memorable point and should be easily accessible.
Before you go
Ready for those final few checks? When you’re going camping for the first time, make sure before heading off on your adventure you:
• Do a final check of your equipment. Check you have everything that you need, and that there are no damages to your tent or waterproofs.
• Practice putting your tent up before you set off. The poles should be all accounted for and you should know how to put up and take down your tent.
• Check the weather forecast for the duration of your stay and make sure you’re covered no matter what the sky throws at you. No matter where your camping adventure is taking your family, use our beginners’ guide to camping to help you prepare and enjoy the great outdoors.