Here’s a guide to the gear you’ll need for your first camping trip and a few camping hot spots around the country.
Camping will open up your world to a new side of adventure travel. Forget your worries, pitch a tent and enjoy nature. Here’s a guide to the gear you’ll need for your first camping trip and a few camping hot spots around the country. You may have to alter this packing list depending on whether you’re camping at a campsite, “glamping” or going totally off the grid in the middle of the woods.
Campsite & Sleeping
Preparing your campsite and sleeping arrangements is the most important part of planning for your camping trip. It’s how you’ll be protected from the elements, mosquitos and any other wildlife. This Dagger Tent is a good option for novice campers; it dries quickly, has two doors, and can fit up to three people.
You’ll also want to think about what kind of sleeping bag you’ll need for the temperature you’re camping in (Alaska vs. Florida have drastic differences in temperature). You can find this information on the label when you’re shopping. Sleeping pads that go under your sleeping bag will keep you comfortable and ensure a good night’s sleep. Pillows and blankets are also optional items. Or maybe just a poncho that doubles as a blanket, like this one?
Consider bringing a camping chair since you’ll be on your feet all day. Find a chair made out of a lightweight material for quick drying. Also, bring a simple tarp and rope are a great way to create an enclosure for cooking in case it rains. You can buy a tarp that keeps the sun, rain and bugs away too.
Gear & Gadgets
When you’re camping you can run into basically any scenario. That’s why the boy scout motto is about always being prepared. The gear you bring on your first camping trip is what’s going to make your trip go smoothly. While you don’t have to pack the kitchen sink, here are some basics you’re going to want to pack on your first camping trip.
The Osprey backpack is lightweight and has a compartment for all of your gear. For lighting, using a headlamp can be convenient or the myCharge Power Lumens is a portable charger that doubles as a bright LED light. They also have a solar charger for when you need to recharge, but are nowhere near an electrical outlet. A simple knife is always handy or you can go all out and bring a Leatherman tool that encompasses a firestarter, hammer, one-handed blade and an emergency whistle.
Shoes & Apparel
Your clothing and shoes should go along with the idea of being prepared for anything. Blundstone has hiking boots that will last you for years, taking you up mountains and through creeks. While Keen and Bogs also have awesome footwear for camping, like work boots and water shoes that you can wear in rocky waters or beaches.
United by Blue is an apparel brand that was specifically made for camping with clothing to keep you warm in the winter with flannels and cool in the summer with lightweight garb. For every product purchased, the brand removes one pound of trash, making it a brand you want to support. Another tip is to take care of your feet and bring extra socks; Smartwool has socks that are made for hiking in all seasons.
Cooking, Eating, and Hygiene
On your first camping trip, you’ll want to bring a lightweight stove to cook a hot meal. Unless you plan on cooking a classic hot dog dinner followed by s’mores over the campfire. In that case you’ll need to bring matches and a hand ax or saw to gather firewood. But if not, pick a stove that can accommodate what you’re cooking and the type of fuel you prefer (coal or fuel). Or try out this camp stove that turns fire into electricity. It can cook your meals and charge your gear, all at the same time. Pretty amazing, huh?
Depending on what you’re cooking up you’ll need a cooler for perishables, cookware, a coffee pot (a warm cup of joe in the morning is worth carrying the extra weight) and a water bottle. This kit can be used as a food container, bowl and vessel to heat food up in.
If your campsite has water you don’t need to worry about bringing a water jug or purifier, but if you’re camping more “Naked and Afraid” style, than think about where you’ll be getting your water supply. Also, if you’re going to bear country you should confirm if your campsite has a lockbox for food items or bbring a secure container to keep the bears away!
They are a lot of prepared food for campers, so if you want to keep it simple, this may be a good choice for you. Good To Go offers meal options cooked up by a chef. Kale and white bean stew anyone? While Taos Bakes and OHi Bar have energy bars when you need an emergency snack. Hey, camping can be exhausting.
Most campsites have showers and bathrooms, but definitely check this out first. Then you plan for what you’ll need to bring. Some basics to bring either way include a quick drying camp towel, hand sanitizer and a first aid kit.
Now that you have a list of equipment, here comes the fun part. Planning where you’re going to camp! While you can’t go wrong with any of the National Parks across the US, consider these lesser known campsites for your first journey.
Hither Hills State Park; Montauk New York
Hither Hills State Park has 1,700 acres set in the hills of the Hamptons, offering visitors breath-taking views of the beach from the campground (sounds chic?). Allowing campers to go fishing (saltwater and freshwater), swimming and you can even try your hand at surfing at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk. While hiking the “walking dunes” of Napeague Harbor on the eastern boundary of the park is another popular activity in the area. Be careful to stay on the trails because the ticks thrive in this area.
The campsite offers space for 168 tents and trailers and has showers, a store, playground and horseshoes. The fee starts at $35 a night per tent and $70 if you’re not a New York resident.
Castle Rock State Park; Almo Idaho
The challenging landscape of Castle Rocks State Park attracts rock climbers from around the world. There is also excellent hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding against a dramatic backdrop that dates back 2.5 million years.
Enjoy a stay at the park’s campgrounds, yurts or the century-old ranch house. Camping is year round and a standard campsite costs about $20-$27. The weather gets up to the low-90s in summer; cooling to the 50s at night and high-30s in the winter and teens at night, so prepare your sleeping bag arrangements accordingly!
Garner State Park; Concan, Texas
There are few places as beautiful as Garner State Park AKA the Texas Hill Country River Region for a family looking to go on their first camping trip. The park is open year round and offers just about every outdoor activity you can imagine from hiking and biking to boating and fishing.
At night, campers can sleep under the stars in one of the only places in the United States where you can still see the Milky Way! Overnight visitors can stay in screened shelters, cabins or campsites for $15-$35 per night. Among the basic amenities, you can expect to find concessions, a seasonal grocery store, hot showers and restrooms.