Beginners' Camping Guide

Rilor Staff
Update: September 14, 2020
Table of Contents

Camping for beginners seems to be an easy thing. However, once you learned the nitty-gritty of things, you'll realize that you need to step back a little. 

I am not saying that you should not go camping. Instead, I am suggesting that thorough preparation before you head start doing any outdoor adventure. In this way, you will be able to explore the wild, fully equipped and prepared.

Camping For Beginners: All The Things You Need To Know

Camping Gears: A Comprehensive Checklist

For starters, preparing for your camping gear should be the priority. Again, you cannot go out anywhere if you are not equipped with the right tools and amenities. And I am not just talking about tents. You also have to mind all the essentials that would make your trip convenient. 

The checklist below is just condensed, so novices will not get overwhelmed. They are the basics, in short. However, once you learn the art of camping, you can already expand the kind of tools and items you can bring on the trip. 

Let me remind you that not all camping gears are suited for every trip. Some are only useful during the winter season, while others are specifically designed for particular terrains. Hence, it is still important that you mind the settings and conditions of your campsite.

Essential Camping Gears

  • Tent (with sufficient space, rainfly, and vestibules)
  • Footprint, extra poles, stakes, and guylines
  • Sleeping bags (either designed for ventilation or insulation)
  • Sleeping pads
  • Camping pillows
  • Camping chairs and tables (optional)
  • Multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife
  • Lamps, flashlights, and lanterns
  • Firestarters or waterproof matchsticks

Food and Cooking Essentials

  • Camping stove
  • Pots, frying pans, and pot holder
  • Spatula and cooking knife
  • Cutting board
  • Coolers and food containers (bags and foil)
  • Plates, bowls, and mugs
  • Spoon, fork, and spork
  • Trash bags
  • Sponge and biodegradable soap

Personal Essentials

  • First-aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect and bear repellent
  • Prescription medications
  • Menstrual kit (if needed)
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Toiletry products
  • Whistle

Camping Clothing: What To Wear

Aside from your camping gear, you also have to plan your outfit. Of course, you should exclude fashion here. You should prioritize functionality over style since that would help you survive the entire trip.

The general rule in choosing outdoor clothes is simple: just look at the weather. If it is hot, then pick the garments that would help you combat the heat. If it is cold, you have to make sure that you are fully clad with insulated materials. 

Clothing During A Warm Climate

The sun can cause your body temperature to rise up. It will cause sweating and heavy breathing on your part. If your clothes are not suited for ventilation and moisture-wicking, your time at the campsite would really be inconvenient. 

  • Inner layer - Breathable socks and underwear
  • Outer layer  - Lightweight shirt and pants/shorts with moisture-wicking properties
  • Accessories - Hat, visor, and sunglasses

Extra Tips

  • If you think that your camping ground is being infested with mosquitoes, flies, and other irritating creatures, it would be best to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. Just make sure that they are not made from cotton to ensure your utmost convenience. Some garments out there have built-in SPF protection for added defense against the UV rays. 
  • Also, jackets that have vents are great for summer camping. The vents enable you to deal with changing temperatures accordingly. 
  • Your footwear should depend on the terrain. For instance, if you are heading toward dry land, you can wear lightweight shoes for better mobility. Full-grain boots are great if there are swamps or irritating plants in the vicinity. 
  • Don't forget to cover yourself with sunscreen lotion.

Clothing During Winter And Cold Conditions

There is a heavy emphasis on clothing when it comes to winter camping. After all, hypothermia and frostbites are just around the corner. If you get too careless, you'll suffer them. These conditions are life-threatening. Don't take them too lightly. 

Of course, these dangers should not stop you from trying out a winter camp. The latter is a pleasurable experience that you shouldn't miss. You just have to equip yourself with the right clothing so that you'll not get the cold. 

  • Inner layer - For winter camping, long underwear should be the best choice. If the temperature is cold, choose heavyweight long underwear. Make sure that it is made from wool so that it can eliminate sweat from your skin. Avoid cotton. 
  • Middle layer - This part plays a vital role in providing insulation. The thicker the middle layer, the more heat it can trap. You can get an insulated jacket for this purpose. It can be either made from down or synthetic. Fleece pants are an excellent option for your legs. 
  • Outer layer - The final layer should be the shield that defends you from snow, wind, rain, and other external elements during winter. It will really be ideal if you have waterproof pants and jackets as your external shell. 
  • Accessories - Gloves, mittens, winter hat, glasses, goggles, and socks
  • Footwear - Hiking boots are the most suggested form of footwear for winter hiking. But if the snow is thick and high, you should suit your feet with authentic mountaineering boots. They should be insulating and waterproof at the same time. 

Familiarize Your Gears

Many beginners think that it is enough that they have purchased the best gears for camping. Sure, that's true--but that's only half of the story. 

The bigger picture tells us that learning how to use our tools is necessary. After all, they will just become useless if you don't know how you can utilize them in the camp. 

Others try their gears, but a little too late. If you think that it is okay to learn how to use a camping stove or multi-tool in the campsite, then you need to change that perception already. 

Trials and tests should be done in your home. See if the tools are indeed functioning or not. Practice and keep on practicing. It will make things perfect. Trust me on that. 

Choose A Good Location

Since it is your first time, it is pretty daft if you are going to challenging and technical terrains. There's nothing to prove as early as now. You are not brave just because you want to head to a high-altitude mountain to camp. That's risky and unadvisable. 

You see, beginners should start small. Take little steps until such time you can learn the ins and outs of camping and outdoor adventures. Try to understand all the nuances and experience everything that is in there. 

Doing all these things will make you a proficient camper. At the same time, they can make things interesting and enjoyable. 

A beginner-friendly campground should be accessible. It must not be difficult to reach. Specifically, it should be situated in a location where there are minimal inconveniences. 

Don't go on campsites that you need to escalate. Avoid cliffs and slippery substrates. 

Train Your Mind And Body

I know camping is not as strenuous as backpacking or hiking. However, this doesn't mean that you are free from the required training that your body needs. 

  • First, you need to train your endurance. It is not good to get exhausted easily. There are a lot of fun things that you can do while camping, such as swimming or exploring Mother Nature. Lacking vitality will prevent you from experiencing these wonderful activities. 
  • Second, train your body to become physically fit. You need to be strong so that you can carry your camping gear. Manual labor is not necessary if your campground is accessible to vehicles. But if there's a need to walk, then you have no choice but to lift your things. If you are not strong enough, reaching your destination would really become a difficult task. 
  • Third, you need to sharpen your mind. You have to prepare yourself for it. Of course, it is your first time camping. There are things that might overwhelm you out there. If you are not mentally and emotionally fit, it is easy to get stressed and perplexed.

Start Early

Once you have selected your campground, you need to prepare for the entire trip going there. Of course, one of the things that you need to ensure is your punctuality. You need to start the adventure as early as possible.

Campgrounds have minimal crowds if it is still early in the morning. Once the sun peaks up, people will start to arrive. They can make things inconvenient and unfavorable to you. 

Furthermore, being there ahead of time gives you the freedom to learn the rules and regulations. You can analyze the layout of the site, and see the ideal location to mount your tent and gears.

Meal Planning

Assuming that you are going to stay in the campground for a couple of days, meal planning becomes an integral part of your preparation. You have to eat and drink to survive, after all.

If you are good at cooking, then meal planning is not a problem for you. Your ingenuity in the kitchen can still manifest even if you are doing outdoor adventures. There are a lot of camping recipes out there that you can try. Plan ahead so that you can list the meals that you'll prepare once you are at the campsite. 

Don't push yourself to do extravagant delicacies. While it is true that it is not prohibited, these "treats" are not a practical choice for camping. They have extensive preparations, and the number of ingredients they need might take a toll on you.

Opt for simple and tasty meals instead. You can stuff your belly without stressing too much. 

Also, don't forget to bring snacks such as peanuts, chocolates, and jerkies. They can replenish your strength during the trip.

Inform Others Of Your Trip

Before you head out, make sure that other people know about your trip. 

It is a safety policy that you need to heed. Tell your family or close friends about your scheduled camping trip. Reveal the details of your location, departure date, and expected day of arrival. 

If something untoward happens to you, they will know immediately. For instance, if you haven't returned on the date you have stated, then these individuals can notify the authorities to search for you. 

Bring Your Phone And Save Emergency Numbers

It is essential that you can bring your phone with you during the camping trip. Surely, you are not going to do this just because you don't want to miss the latest in your newsfeed. 

Instead, the phone should serve as your lifeline during times of emergencies. Save all the emergency hotlines there so that if an accident happens, you can call for rescue immediately. 


Camping is an exciting form of leisure, and everyone is encouraged to do this activity once in a while. It can liberate you from the stress of your mundane life back in the city. It is an excellent way to unwind and reconnect with yourself and other people. 

Camping for beginners can appear daunting. But with proper preparation and planning, you can easily overcome the odds that come with it. 

I hope that you learned something from this article. If you have questions related to camping and other outdoor activities, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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