Going out on a camping trip can easily turn from the experience of a lifetime to an absolute nightmare if you aren’t prepared well. It’s a lot more than just throwing a sleeping bag and a tent in your backpack, and if you want to make the most of it, planning and preparation are key.
That being said, how do you prepare? You can check out this link to find extensive information on packing, preparation and gear, but let’s cover some of the basics to get you started. Let’s consider the planning stage, and provide you with a packing checklist so you enjoy the camping trip like you want to!
Planning is Crucial
The first step of the way is to plan things out well. Depending on how seasoned of a camper you are, this might be something you’ve already done. But if it’s your first time, you shouldn’t underestimate it.
To begin with, set the dates that work for you. A bit of versatility in this regard works very well because you can reschedule if the campsites you’re looking at are too busy, the weather isn’t good, or any other reason really. To add to this, the dates you pick will probably put some camping locations out of reach – not all campsites are open throughout the year.
Once you’ve chosen a date, you should consider the location. If you’re going to opt for a campsite, you should see which ones are open during the time period that works for you. If it’s the spring, summer, or autumn, most of the campsites in the national parks should be an option, but the winter period is off-limits for some locations.
On the other hand, if you choose to go backcountry camping, most national parks will let you do this at your own discretion, provided you get a backcountry camping permit from them. You can get it either online, or at the park’s visitor center, and it’s usually free. Keep in mind, though, that backcountry camping is something best done if you’re already experienced, so if it’s your first time, we’d recommend that you stick to regular campsites.
While we’re talking about planning, you should also plan how you’ll get to the location where you want to set up camp. Not all campsites, and especially not backcountry locations, are reachable by car, so you might need to do a bit of walking. You should check out where the closest parking available is, so you know where to leave your vehicle.
What Should You Pack?
This is probably the burning question for many of you, and what you pack will depend greatly on a few factors.
The first one is whether or not you’ll have your vehicle close by to where you’re setting up camp. If yes, then you can allow yourself to take things like a portable cooking stove, or a barbeque, or something similar that you wouldn’t take with you if you’re hiking. If not, you should be more conservative because you’ll need to take everything with you when you’re hiking.
The second factor is how organized the campsite is. For example, if you know there are fully functioning showers and food preparation areas, a portable camping shower and grill are things you can comfortably leave at home.
And then there are things you should pack regardless of campsite conditions, such as your camping gear. The two most important items here are your sleeping bag and your tent.
The sleeping bag is something you can choose depending on the conditions you’ll be camping in. For example, in dry conditions where you want a more comfortable bag to keep you warm, a down sleeping bag is better than a synthetic one. But it’s all a matter of circumstances, and knowing how to choose a sleeping bag is something you should definitely check out.
When it comes to choosing a tent, try to get one that fits one person more than the number of people that will be sleeping in the tent. If you’re going solo, get a two-person tent. Going with a partner? A three-person tent is perfect. The room for an extra person will allow you to have plenty of extra sleeping space and add some movement room and room for gear as well. Oh, and by all means try to get a tent that’s resistant to the elements, such as wind and water. This will keep you warm and dry even if the weather decides to take a turn for the worse.
Once you’ve got these things packed, there are a few other small things you should grab. A lamp is a good idea, for example, and a small multitool comes in handy as well. And aside from this, it’s all about getting suitable clothes for the temperature, enough food for the duration of the trip – and you’re set!