20 Essential Camping Tips and Tricks for Beginners Like a Pro
Unplugging from your phone and computer to take a few nights in the wilderness is one of the best ways to relax and reconnect with nature. There is nothing more refreshing than watching a beautiful sunset and then sleeping under the stars!
We’d like to share our very best camping tips and tricks with you, so that you can camp in comfort and safety, while enjoying everything our beautiful, natural world has to offer.
Are you an experienced camper who wants to take a fresh approach to their next adventure? Or perhaps you are totally new to camping and would like to feel prepared before you make your first trip. Either way, we have lots of inspiring ideas to explore!
Where Do I Start As a Camp Newbies?
Time spent in the peaceful atmosphere of the forest or the mountains can be the perfect break from a busy, modern life. There are many different ways to go camping, so let’s start by looking at two of the most popular options.
#1 Campsite camping
This is a great choice for those who want to enjoy a few modern conveniences and prefer to camp with company. There is a huge range of campsites available around the world – from the small and simple where drinking water and toilets are provided, to larger, facility-rich sites with hot showers, swimming pools and games facilities for children.
You get to choose what suits you best, but bear in mind that popular campsites need to be booked in advance during busy periods like school holidays.
#2 Wild camping/primitive camping
This approach is for the intrepid camper who wants to be far away from the trappings of the modern world and immerse themselves in nature. Wild camping simply means pitching your tent in a natural location with no facilities (check local regulations to see what is legal in your area).
Primitive campsites are officially designated sites that have little or no infrastructure, though you may meet a few other campers or have access to a simple log cabin for shelter. These kinds of campsites are often found dotted along hiking trails and in national parks.
There is a wide range of environments that are fun to wild camp in:
- Jungle camping
- Mountain camping
- Latitude camping
- Lowlands camping
Your Essential Beginner’s Camping Kit
What you need to take on your camping trip depends in part on where you are going camping. The general principle is that if you are backpacking, wild camping or without a vehicle, your main priority is going to be keeping things lightweight and portable.
If you are simply driving to a nearby campsite, then you don’t need to worry about weight restrictions, and you can bring heavier ‘luxury’ items like packable chairs or portable grills. Either way, the list of core items that you’ll need is as follows.
• Backpack:What kind of camping trip are you taking? If you’re simply driving to a campsite, then a daypack for shorter local hikes will be plenty. If you are doing a multi-day hike, you’re going to need a large backpack that is comfortable to wear even when full. Ladies – look out for backpacks designed specifically to fit women!
• Tent & footprint: How many people will sleep in the tent? What kind of climate are you camping in? Ask yourself these questions and choose a tent that suits your trip. It is worth investing in the best tent you can afford – if you treat it well it should last you a long time.
Buying a footprint for your tent is a great idea as it protects the base of the tent from rough ground. This is a small extra cost that can greatly increase the lifespan of your tent.
• Sleeping bag & sleeping liner: These can make or break a camping trip! Once again, buy the best you can afford. Most sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, so be sure that your sleeping bag suits the climate that you are going to be camping in.
A sleeping bag liner helps to keep your sleeping bag clean and can provide an additional layer of warmth on cooler nights. On hot summer nights, you can unzip your sleeping bag and sleep in just the liner.
• Sleeping mat: Sleeping mats come in a variety of styles, from simple, thin foam-based mats to more advanced air or self-inflating pads. Self-inflating or air pads offer greater comfort and cushioning than foam pads, and if you’re willing to invest in one that is top-of-the-range, you will also find lightweight options that are suitable for backpacking trips and wild camping.
• Head torch or flashlight: It should go without saying that having a head torch or flashlight is invaluable at night, both for finding your way around a dark tent and for venturing out into unlit spaces. Don’t forget to carry spare batteries with you too.
• First aid kit: A first aid kit is absolutely essential for any camping trip, especially if you are going to be camping away from civilization. Purchase a ready-made medical kit designed for hikers and you know that you’ll be well prepared in the case of any minor injuries.
• Map & compass: Although many people are used to navigating via the GPS apps on their phone, a consistent signal cannot be depended upon when out in nature. Always carry a map and compass with you to be safe! Additionally, battery life can be problematic on longer trips. If you feel more comfortable knowing that you can recharge your phone, then it is best to purchase a portable solar charger or a spare battery for your device.
• Toiletries & toilet paper: The basics you’ll need are soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste. Pack any medications you need, as well as a quick-drying towel.
• Food & water: Your food and drink needs will vary depending on where you are camping. Will you be close to local shops where you can top up your supplies? Or will you be in a wilderness location that requires you to carry all your food with you? Plan accordingly.
• Cooking equipment: At the very least you will need are a stove and fuel, eating and cooking utensils and plates or bowls. You’ll also need a container in which to do your washing up, as well as some biodegradable soap and a sponge or pot scrubber. Don’t forget to pack matches or firelighters too!
Tips & Tricks Before Your Camping Trip
It is natural to feel a little nervous if you’ve never been camping before. Remember that our ancestors lived for hundreds of years without the advanced shelter and modern technologies that we are used to! If they could do it, so can you. With this in mind, here are a few tips to have you setting off on your first trip feeling positive.
#3 Keep it simple!
For your first camping experience, choose an easy option closer to civilization. A couple of nights at a fully equipped campsite with drinking water plus good bathrooms and showers will ease you into the routines of camping. From here you can build your confidence towards wild camping in remote locations.
#4 Do a test run at home
Once you have your essential camping kit ready to go, one of the best things that you can do to ensure a successful trip is to have a ‘trial run’ at home. This gives you the chance to test out all of your kits and feel confident that everything is in good working order.
Pitch your tent and set up your sleeping gear, and consider spending a night camped out in your back yard! This way you can be sure you aren’t missing any poles or pegs and that your sleeping kit is comfortable and warm. Try cooking a meal too, so that you are confident using your stove before you go on your first trip.
#5 Research your destination & be prepared
Look online for information and reviews about your camping destination. If you have friends or family who like to camp, ask for their advice too. Plan this first trip carefully and be sure you know what facilities are going to be available to you at the campsite.
#6 Look at the weather forecast
Having an idea of the kind of weather conditions you will face makes all the difference to your comfort and enjoyment. If you’re going to be faced with high temperatures, bring your swimming costume, a hat and plenty of sunscreens. If it is likely to rain, make sure you have waterproofs with you. Bring some simple activities like a book and a pack of cards to enjoy when the weather prevents you from being outside.
#7 Make a checklist and pack carefully
A packing checklist is essential to make sure you don’t forget anything. As you pack, tick off each individual item. Keep your checklist somewhere safe, and be sure to adjust the list as you gain more camping experience. Make a note of any lessons learnt from each new camping trip!
#8 Attitude is everything!
Camping is an adventure, and in the end, the best thing that you can take with you is an attitude of excitement and curiosity! If you are able to enjoy slowing down and embracing everything that happens, you’ll come away from your trip with great memories and plenty of wild stories to share.
It is also a great confidence booster to know that you are able to take care of yourself in a natural setting, and without being dependent upon on all the tools and toys of modern life. Every time you go camping, you learn something new.
Where Should I Set Up My Tent?
There are some basic criteria to follow when setting up your tent. These will help you to avoid making some of the most common camping mistakes. These are mostly based on common sense and simple observation.
#9 Find a good ground
Look for flat ground and avoid anything with a slope. Slopes can mean water running under your tent at night, or finding that you and your possessions are slowly sliding their way towards one end of the tent during the night. Avoid setting up your tent in a dip or a trench where water can gather, and you are likely to find yourself cold and damp.
Once you have chosen a piece of flat ground, take a moment to check for sharp rocks or protruding tree roots. Clear away any small stones and branches to ensure that the base of your tent doesn’t get damaged. Following these steps means that you will be sleeping comfortably on a smooth surface.
#10 Don’t forget to look up!
This is one that many people forget. If you are going to be camping under trees, look up to the tree canopy and make sure that there are no dead or broken branches above where you are planning to set up. The same goes for loose rock ledges. Take your time to observe the environment before you make your choice, and if in doubt, choose another spot.
#11 Check the location of the sun
When camping in the summer, you don’t want to set up your tent in a location that receives full sun as this can turn your tent into an unintended sauna! Be aware of where the sun rises and sets, and consider how this will affect the temperatures in your tent. In contrast, during the cooler months, you may want to opt for the sunniest spot you can find to ensure that you stay comfortable during the night.
#12 Stake your tent properly
It is easy to get lazy about this one, but staking your tent properly means you won’t be vulnerable to wind and unexpected changes in weather. Take the time to do this and you won’t run the risk of finding that your temporary home has blown off into the bushes!
How to Get A Good Night’s Sleep Whilst Camping?
This is a common concern for those who are new to camping. If you are wondering how you are going to sleep well whilst outdoors, we have plenty of trips that will ensure you feel well-rested. If you plan ahead and are well prepared, you’ll sleep well whilst enjoying the benefits of sleeping in the clean, fresh air.
#13 Invest in high-quality bedding
A high-quality sleeping bag is absolutely essential for your warmth and comfort. Choose the best quality you can afford – you get what you pay for! Choose a sleeping mat that fits your height and weight, and opt for a self-inflating or air mat that gives you greater cushioning and insulation from the ground.
If you are going camping with a car, you can also opt for a less portable and more luxurious option such as a standard air mattress designed for home use, and you can even bring your favourite bedding with you.
#14 Maintain a comfortable temperature
If you know you are a warm sleeper, be sure to have a sleeping bag that suits your body’s needs. Sleeping bag zippers allow you to regulate your temperature and ensure that you don’t wake up due to over-heating. On the other hand, if you tend to be cold at night, make sure that you have a sleeping bag specifically designed for cooler temperatures. Consider packing an extra fleece blanket or a thicker sleeping bag liner too.
#15 Have separate sleeping bags and sleeping mats
Having your own sleeping bag and a single sleeping mat is the best way to ensure that you are not woken up by the movements of other sleepers.
#16 Carry earplugs and an eye mask
A tent does little to block out the morning sunlight, so if you want to sleep past dawn, an eye mask is your best friend. Choose a material that feels good on your skin, like silk. Earplugs are also a great help when you’re outdoors, whether it is for keeping out the sounds of snoring campers or enthusiastic morning birdsong.
#17 Test out your kit before you hit the road
We’ve discussed this one already, but it is worth emphasizing how important it is to have tried out all of your camping gear before you set off on your adventure. In particular, make sure you are confident in setting up your tent, because this can be a source of stress.
#18 Set up camp well before sunset
There is nothing worse than trying to set up a tent in a hurry because it is getting dark, or worse still when it is already dark! Do yourself a huge favor and plan your arrival with plenty of time to get yourself settled in before nighttime arrives.
Hacks to Stay Hygienic, Healthy And Safe When Camping
This is such an important factor when it comes to having a good time outdoors. No one wants to have their holiday spoilt by sickness. Maintaining good levels of hygiene helps you to stay safe in situations where medical assistance is not close to hand.
#19 Wash or sanitize your hands often
To prevent the spread of germs, always clean your hands before preparing a meal and then again after eating. It is also good practice to wash your hands before gathering water or re-filling your water bottle. After every trip to the bathroom, be thorough and spend time washing your hands carefully.
#20 Outdoor washing & showering tips
When camping in an area with no facilities, the best option is to find yourself a clean river or lake where you can take a refreshing, full-body plunge. When this is not available, fill your washing-up container with water and clean your hands, face and armpits. A refreshing foot bath can be done this way too.
If you don’t mind carrying the extra weight, you might choose to bring a simple solar shower with you. This is a bladder with a shower attachment that can be filled with water and hung up. You’ll need a sunny day to enjoy standing under warm water!