If you’ve never been camping before or you’re still a little green under the collar then here’s a few tips to set you on the right path and get your camping trip off to a good start. Remember, with some forethought and a little imagination your camping trips can be very enjoyable and a bit of an adventure.
Reaching the camping site and finding that you’ve forgotten several pieces of important equipment or finding that your tent has a big hole in it would likely put a damper on your trip and make you want to scurry home as quickly as possible. So if you remember nothing else about this article remember this, preparation is key. Check that you have enough camping equipment ready to go and that it’s all working properly.
Before I go off on holiday I always have a practice run in my back yard. This gives me the opportunity to not only check out the condition of my tent (zippers have a nasty habit of breaking) but that I still remember how to put it all together. If it’s a new tent then it’s good to have the chance to familiarize yourself with it before you venture out.
Tents can still deteriorate even when packed away so it’s a good idea to check it out thoroughly and make sure that all of the zips are working properly. Make sure that all the sections and parts are still there, including the ground sheet and fly sheet (if they are part of the package). Have a look at the ventilation mesh and make sure that it doesn’t have any rips in it that could let in a pesky mosquito.
Most modern dome tents use flexible fibre glass rods to keep their shape. Normally these rods are hollow with an elastic rope running through them. If your tent is old then you may want to check that the elastic hasn’t deteriorated away or snapped. While you can still assemble your tent with out the elastic it does make the job easier and help keep all the rod sections together so replace it if it looks a little frayed.
Once the tent is cleaned and prepared take time to think about what other equipment you may need to take with you. A lot of this will probably be determined by where and when you are going to go camping and what you expect the weather to be like. If you’re going to be doing your own cooking then you’ll need a stove, cooking utilities and butane gas. Don’t go crazy on the amount of gear that you take with you if you’re going to end up carrying it all on your back.
Camp sites can differ wildly in which facilities they have available and if you’re going on a hiking trail then there may be non some nights. Making up your itinerary in detail will give you a better idea of where you’re going to be staying each night of your trip and help you decide on how much equipment that you need to take.
If you really are going to ‘rough it’ and your travels include a lot of hiking then it’s prudent to keep the weight of your pack to the bare minimum of essentials. Take only what is necessary and leave some of those creature comforts at home. Your back and legs will thank you for it eventually.
If I were travelling by car or van then obviously I can take more equipment and can travel further afield. There are many organised camping sites available world-wide. They vary from basic sites with water and toilet facilities to ones that also include a swimming pool, shops, restaurants and entertainment. Costs will vary immensely so I always weigh up my options before I decide. Do I want peace and quiet and open spaces, basic facilities or a more sociable and busy holiday full of entertainment, the choice is mine.
I really do think it is a good idea to make a check list before you embark on any trip. For camping you really do need to remember the basics. A drinking vessel, water, plate, cutlery, pot for cooking and heating water in, a flash-light and of course a warm sleeping bag are a definite must as is the one thing most people forget – a can opener! On a personal level, I always think it is also a good idea to take along my own toilet roll. A camping bed or blow up bed are also a must so that I can hopefully have a good nights sleep off the lumpy ground. I also take warm clothes even if I am travelling in the summer as night time can be decidedly chilly in a tent.
Normally when camping I cater for myself so I obviously will need some sort of cooker. I could by a small gas or petrol stove and can choose between single ringed stoves or larger double ringed cookers. It may take skill and ingenuity to cook a three course meal on them but they will do the job of heating or cooking my basic food.
Opting for nostalgia and lighting a fire is always a last resort as my surroundings might be dry and a spark could easily set dry undergrowth alight. Apart from the safety aspect fuel would have to be collected for the fire, not easy if there are no old branches or pieces of wood in the near vicinity.
If you’re trekking in a national park then you’ll need to observe any laws or regulations pertaining to the lighting of open fires.
Think carefully about what food you want to take. Fresh food is perishable and doesn’t last very long without a refrigerator. On the other hand if you decide not to take a stove then you’re going to have a hard time cooking anything so you may find dried food is your best bet.
Most importantly remember to do as I do and leave my camping site as I would wish to find it, clean and tidy, I remove all my rubbish and leave it looking as if I was never there.