Including a camping for beginners checklist
If this is your first time camping and you are unsure where to start then this guide for beginners is for you.
Camping is a great way to experience the great outdoors and really get in touch with nature. With just a little planning, you’ll be enjoying your first camping trip and counting down until you can book another!
Like most outdoor holidays though, you do need to do some planning to make sure that everything goes to plan. You may not be able to control the weather but you can make sure that you have the right camping equipment for your trip.
In this post, we cover all the camping essentials including a camping checklist that you can use to make sure that you’ve packed everything you need for an amazing trip!
If you are looking for more holiday ideas then have a look at:
The Top 15 UK Beaches Everyone Should Visit
15 Best Staycation Ideas That Make You Feel Like You’re Abroad
7 Incredible Scotland Road Trips for 2021
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Camping for the first time
The great thing about camping is that it can be done in any country around the world. As a first-time camper, you may be better off starting in a campsite but there’s no reason why you couldn’t camp anywhere really.
what we love the most about camping is that it’s mostly free if we don’t camp on a campsite and that you can buy camping equipment pretty cheap. When we first started we made a few tent mistakes aka picking the wrong one for our camping needed but via that, it was a pretty simple holiday that was relaxing and chilled.
Camping really can offer you a holiday experience like no other holiday. You aren’t stuck in a holiday room that you don’t like or a location that’s noisy. If you don’t like where you are camping you can pack up and leave and find somewhere else. It’s the ultimate freedom holiday experience.
We can fully recommend wild camping, which means backpacking or cycling your way around somewhere and just set down your tent when and where you feel like it. Get up when the sun comes up and listen to the early morning birds sing. Watch the sunset and camp under the stars after a delicious meal that you’ve cooked over a fire. There really is nothing like it!
Planning your camping trip
Planning your camping trip is the best way to make it a success, especially if it’s your first trip.
Practice makes perfect. If you have a garden or a green space near to where you live then get some practice camping. It’s free and is the best way for you to build up your confidence and know which camping gear you needed and which you really didn’t.
Then it’s time to decide if you want to try a campsite first. It’s certainly easier camping on a campsite as they have everything you need right there including camping stoves, toilets, and even a tent if you don’t have one. They do come at a cost though so you may want to weigh this up when deciding where to camp for the first time.
If you decide to camp in the wild where it’s free then start your research now. You’ll need to find a location that is happy for campers to sleep unattended. The only pitfalls of this, being a beginner to camping is that you have to be completely self-sufficient so if you struggle to light your fire or forgot something vital then you really are on your own.
If you are looking for ways to find a free camping spot then have a look at:
Wiki Camps UK
Once you have found the perfect spot make sure it’s away from any homes and that you leave zero trace that you’ve been there. This includes any fires you start.
The best time to go camping
This is completely up to you but as a beginner, you may want to start by camping in the warmer weather so you can get used to how cold it can get a night.
Camping when it’s cold comes with another set of challenges that as a beginner you may not be prepared for. Have a look at our tips Camping in the Winter for Beginners post for a full rundown on what it can be like and what to pack for camping in the winter months.
Of course, camping during the summer months in a hot climate can also be very uncomfortable so make sure you research the country first if you aren’t camping in your own country.
Remember that you are camping in nature’s back garden so there may be wildlife around. You need to be aware of what is around you and how to chase them away if needed. Also, insects and bugs could be an issue so make sure you bring the correct spray or nets if needed.
Try and pick a spot that is away from footfall. There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy the outdoors and having people walk past your tent. Also, check if you need any permits to camp and if there are any restrictions to fires or stoves.
Must-have camping gear from beginners
Making sure that you have the right camping equipment is key to a great trip. It doesn’t have to be top of the line to work. All it needs to be is reliable.
Keep reading below for our camping checklist that you can print off so that you don’t forget anything vital!
Buying a tent
This could one of the most important decisions and decider if you ever go camping again. Having the right tent for the job means that you’ll stay warm or cool, depending on your situation.
Before you buy any tent make sure you think about:
How many people need to fit in the tent?
Does it need to superlight?
What will the weather be like when you camp?
What kind of ventilation do you need?
Do you need a communal space?
Our top five tents that we have brought ourselves over the years are:
GEERTOP 4 Season 2 Person Waterproof Dome Backpacking Tent for Camping Hiking Travel Climbing*
This is a portable tent that has aluminum poles. It’s waterproof with tape-sealed stitching to keep water out. It’s really stable and great in all weather, including the wind.
Naturehike Cloud Peak 4 Season Backpacking Tent for 2-3 Person Hiking Camping Outdoor*
This two persons tent is great for backpacking. It’s easy to pitch and includes pegs and ropes. this has a ventilation opening at the top to help stop condensation.
FE Active 4 Person Camping Tent – Four Season 3 to 4 Man High-End Waterproof Rip-Stop Tent Compact*
This 6-pound tent is great for four people and makes a great emergency tent if needed. This is great for strong winds and really sturdy if you get caught in a storm.
Asteri Lightweight Camping Tent 2-4 Persons Double Layers Waterproof Backpacking Tent With Fly & Floor Mat Easy Setup Hiking Tent*
This durable tent has steep walls and with an adaptable rain-fly and mesh to help let condensation out. it’s heavy-duty too so great in the cold winter months.
GEERTOP 1 Person Backpacking Tent 4 Season Single Outdoor Lightweight Waterproof Camping Tent*
All packed away, this tent only weighs 1kg and can fit into a backpack perfectly. With just two tracking poles, this tent can be put up quickly then rolled to close.
Camping packing list
This list may change a little depending on what kind of camping trip you are going on. If you are backpacking then you are going to need a really good backpack to carry everything in too.
We see this list as the essential camping items and then you can whatever extras you need depending on your own trip.
We never to camp without these items below as they may just save your life in an emergency.
A good tent – This doesn’t have to be expensive but you want it to be easy to put up, lightweight if you aren’t going anywhere too windy and waterproof. Make sure that you have enough room for everyone to have a little space if needed.
Camping mat or sleeping pad – This is a sleeping pad that is lightweight and shields you from the damp floor. You want something comfy and soft but that’s going to last, especially if you plan on moving around a lot.
Sleeping bag – You may need two of these depending on where you are going and what the temperature gets to at night.
Pillows – We aren’t talking your normal feather pillows here. Grab the inflatable camping pillows which save so much space.
Lighting – This is not only to light your tent but for safety too. Think about purchasing a good hand torch and over headlamp that can be used.
Headtorch – We wouldn’t be without ours now! Make sure that it’s waterproof for those uncomfy trips outside the tent when you need a wee.
Water – Making sure you have water on hand is vital. Something like a water bladder is really useful if you aren’t on a campsite where you can keep filling your barrel up.
Cooking gear – You’ll going to need something to cook on like a stove with gas plus your normal cutlery, plates, and pans. Think about the kind of foods you want to cook and if it’s worth bring more than one pan.
Clothes – Think about what the weather is going to be like. You may need a good waterproof jacket and a good pair of hiking boots. Remember extra socks in case your feet get wet than cold.
Technology – Bring your phone and charger as they work well as navigation as well as a communication tool if you get lost or need help.
First aid kit – This goes without saying but make sure that you pack a first aid kit as anything could happen and camping is all about being prepared. We make sure that we pack the below items without fail:
plasters in all shapes and sizes
gauze dressings in all shapes
4 sterile eye dressings
crêpe rolled bandages
disposable sterile gloves
alcohol-free cleansing wipes
skin rash cream
insect bite cream
painkillers like paracetamol
eyewash and eye bath
Backpack – Make sure that the backpack is comfy and big enough to fit everything you need in it like food, drinks, or clothes that you can grab quickly if needed.
Food – See more below but make sure that it is nutritious and that you’ve thought about every meal, especially if you are wild camping.
Cooler – This is optional but is a great way to make your holiday more luxurious. It can keep food items cool while you are on the move.
Think of it this way; it’s better to pack too much than not enough.
The best camping food
As a beginner, this is what we struggled with the most. What could we take that would keep us full up and that was easy to transport with us.
We went with:
Food that was easily stored and couldn’t get damaged so tins like baked beans and new potatoes. The bread we pit in a plastic air-tight container.
We brought nothing that needed to stay cool as we didn’t have a cooler then. We brought ULT milk or ate cereal dry. You can bring a cooler but we didn’t think about it the first time we went!
Snacks that are easy to eat on the go.
Lightweight food is a must if you are bringing it all from home.
Think out all meals and snacks so that you aren’t hungry. It is a holiday after all!
Camping 101 for beginners
If you still aren’t sure about camping then we’ve tried to answer some of the questions we get asked by our friends who aren’t campers a lot.
Is camping safe for beginners?
Yes, camping is safe if you’ve never done it before. Make sure that you have a practice run first, like in your garden or in a green space that allows camping close to home. This will give you a real feeling on what it’s like. You may prefer to start by booking a campsite. While it can be a bit more expensive, having a campsite is a great way to camp while still having everything you need on your doorstep.
Is it safe to go camping on my own?
Yes, it is safe to go camping solo and so much fun. You get to do whatever you want to do. It’s all about freedom! You may want to start at a campsite though so that you can get some help if needed for your first night.
When is the best time to try out camping for the first time?
That’s up to you and will depend on where you are camping. If you are in the UK then we’d suggest that you camp in the summer months to start with as this gives you a guide to how cold it could get at night. There is no reason that you couldn’t camp during the winter months though. You just need to pack a few extra things to stay warm and safe.
- The Top 15 UK Beaches Everyone Should Visit
- 15 Best Staycation Ideas That Make You Feel Like You’re Abroad
- 7 Incredible Scotland Road Trips for 2021
I’m scared about pitching my tent for the first time.
Don’t be! It does take practice but so does everything. Do it at home whenever you can so you can quickly see any mistakes you are making and fix them. Also, YouTube is your friend. Use it the first few times for quick and easy tent removal.
If you enjoyed this post then please have a look at our other posts in our holiday sections here. You could also pop to our Pinterest boards where we have loads of holiday ideas for solo trips, camping ideas, cruises and hotels. Make sure you have a look at our camping for beginners board, cruising tips and the best city breaks.
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