Camping Basics

Going camping is a great way to get outside and enjoy time with friends and family. It opens up a world of possibilities no matter where you chose to go. Camp at a state park and get access to hiking trails, canoeing, and kayaking if there’s a lake on the premises. Camp at a roadside campground and make a road trip more fun while saving a bunch of money compared to finding a hotel. Families with small children may just enjoy backyard camping – trust us, the kids will think they’re on an adventure miles from civilization.

The following are 5 keys to enjoying your casual camping experience, as well as the products you need to make it happen.

1)      Don’t Get Wet
As you probably know, rain is the enemy of all campers. It’s cold, messy, and can ruin a weekend if your stuff gets soaked. The key here is the waterproofing of your tent – if your tent gets wet, you get wet, and your gear gets wet. Many tents come with a rainfly, which goes over your mesh windows or entry doors to keep rain out (although the tent does need to be able to breathe a bit to keep condensation away in the mornings). The floor should also be seam sealed and durable too, and a tarp for additional groundcover is usually a good idea. 

2)      Don’t Get Cold
Most people are summer campers or stick to days when the weather is nice, but depending on where you are the temperatures may drop enough to give you a chill at night. All sleeping bags have a temperature rating, but make sure you get one with a temperature rating below the anticipated climate – if the temperature is supposed to get down to the 40s, make sure your bag is rated for 30s or colder for best comfort. Getting cold can ruin a nice night’s sleep outdoors.

3)      Stay Comfy

We’re talking mostly about car camping or light backpacking here, so it’s easier to carry creature comforts in the vehicle with you. Many people opt for an air mattress (some are pretty deluxe), and others prefer a cot or sleeping pad. Either way, any of those options are much better than trying to get some shut-eye on the hard ground.

Camp chairs are cheap, portable options for extra seating too.

4)      Bring the Right Accessories
The big gear is easy to remember – tent, sleeping bag, air mattress – but don’t overlook the necessities. Your tent may need a good waterproofing spray (silicone-based formulas are usually the best for large items), and a travel pillow can make your sleeping bag feel like home. Extra tent stakes are also a good idea, especially if you’re a novice camper. You also will want a headlamp so you can see better at night, as well as a lantern for lighting up a bigger area.

There are lots of useful options for camp tools, and it’s also a good idea to carry a multi-tool for any small jobs that may come up. Wanting to rough it a little more and create your own kindling? A pocket chainsaw may be the answer!

Waterproof matches are easy to overlook, but you don’t want to be trying to start a fire with soggy matches. Don’t forget these!

5)      Prepare Meals for the Whole Family
There’s absolutely no substitute for a hot dog or s’mores roasted over an open fire, but what if your taste buds want a little more variety? Propane- or butane-powered camp stoves are usually pretty economical and can crank out food for all your campers. You can even find popcorn poppers, coffee pots, camp grills, utensil sets, and more. 

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