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Beginner's Guide To Your First Campout

Even if you’re the most urban of creatures, the urge to get out of the city—to camp out, in fact—can seize your imagination at any time. If you find yourself contemplating car camping for the first time, but also find the gear and the prep to be a little daunting, don’t despair. We’re here to help.

The ultimate essential for beginner campers is, of course, an experienced outdoorsy person to help you. You can find those folks teaching classes at REI. And if you’re lucky enough to have a friend with a campground reservation and a garage full of gear to share, then simply jump ahead to our handy, printable checklist of camping essentials we’ve provided at the tail end of story.

But you can also do this camping thing completely on your own. You just need a few basic pieces of gear and then decide where you’re going. When going car camping for the first time, start with an overnight campout and keep it simple:

  • To save money, borrow or rent big-ticket gear.
  • To maximize your comfort, always bring appropriate clothes for cold and rain.
  • To satisfy your fresh-air-fueled hunger, bring plenty of food.
  • To keep your options open, camp close to home. (There’s no shame in bailing if problems arise.)
  • To ensure you get a good first impression, postpone your campout if the weather forecast is awful.
  • To be sure you leave a good impression for those who come after you, make sure you follow Leave No Trace principles.

Camping is like staying in a primitive cabin, minus the cabin itself. So, in addition to your tent, pack as though you’re going to stay someplace where there’s little or no furniture, no electricity, no stove or refrigerator, and the cupboards are bare. In a developed campground you will have running water and a community bathroom a few hundred yards away. A typical campsite has a table (if not, you’ll want to bring one), a place to park a car and a place to pitch a tent. Continue reading from REI

Check Out a Book on Camping

Link to Passport to World Sports: Hiking and Camping by Paul Mason in the Catalog
Link to Practical Hints on Camping by Howard Henderson in Hoopla
Link to Camping and Woodcraft by Horace Kephart in Hoopla
Link to Bushcraft Basics: A Common Sense Wilderness Survival Handbook by Leon Pantenburg in Hoopla
Link to Born to Explore by Richard Wiese in the Catalog