Making the first steps into camping can be a bit of a minefield….. Before you get stuck in its worth sitting back and considering a few things first, here are a few camping tips to get you started:
selecting and testing your gear
Purchasing new camping gear is not a cheap investment, so its worth considering your needs as a family. Starting off with the bare minimum will give you a chance to get a feel for what you needs are, then add to your collection. If you have some time, why not look at renting a few different options first, to see if what you’re considering does meet your needs.
A good starting point, if you’re wanting to start out in a tent, is consideration of size (both packed down and set up). It may look like a great option to get the biggest tent in the shop, but how does that pack down? Will it fit in your vehicle with everything else you plan on taking? Will you need to consider towing a trailer? It’s worth getting a good quality tent from the outset, but take your time and look at all the options.
The other basics are some bedding (mattresses and sleeping bags) table and chairs. If you plan on heading to caravan parks as a starting point, most provide good cooking and kitchen facilities on site.
If you’re planing on jumping straight to a camper trailer or caravan you still need to do your research, select something that will work for you as a family, and also ensure that your tow vehicle is suitable. Most camper trailers and caravans will require electric brakes, and tow weights are a significant issue that need to be considered.
Worth keeping in mind also, after a wet camping trip, you’ll need somewhere to put up your camper at home to ensure it’s fully dried out before packing it away for storage. It doesn’t take long for mould to set in.
Last thing to remember, is do a trial run of your gear at home. Most canvas products will need seasoning before use, but if nothing else, it will give you the opportunity to see how everything works in your own time, without the added pressure of a campsite full of spectators.
Picking your campsite
This may sound like a no brainer, but its worth careful consideration, especially if you’re new to the camping scene. Your first experience could make or break it for you; Consider your needs as a camper:
- Facilities: do you want the luxuries of a flushing toilet and hot running water? or are you happy to rough it…..but also keep in mind there are varying degrees of roughing it.
- Cost: The big name campsites have excellent facilities and activities to keep the kids entertained, but they also come at a high cost in comparison to smaller less well known campsites.
- Power: Is your existing or proposed setup reliant on a power supply, or are you happy to run ‘off grid’
- Research: Check their website, reviews and make sure where you are heading is easily accessible so you can get to camp in daylight. There is nothing worse than arriving at an unfamiliar location and having to set up in the dark
Layers, Lighting and Bedding
Layers – Once the sun has set on your first day at camp, depending on where you are the temperatures can drop significantly. Even in the middle of summer, you may find yourself wanting to reach for the uggs and a jumper, so always pack a few things ‘just in case.’ Being caught out on a cold night with only your shorts and t-shirt does not make for an enjoyable night. Same applies for the bedding, make sure you have enough layers for those cold nights.
Lighting – With any campsite, lighting is a must. This may vary from just some simple area lighting for your immediate campsite, through to personal lighting for the evening trips to the loo…..and it maybe worthwhile considering if you need to see ‘hands free.’ A good quality rechargeable lantern along with a head torch are a great combination for those starting out. Should you not have access to recharge, ensure you have enough batteries on hand to last the trip
Bedding – Worth shopping around here, and find something that you’re going to be comfortable on. Buy a good quality stretcher bed or self inflating mattress, it will make the world of difference to your camping trip to wake up refreshed! Sleeping bags are a good option for camping, but ensure you get a size that is suitable for yourself, and check the temperature ratings on the bags, making sure that they are rated for temperatures that you intend on camping in. Always go warmer than you think, you can always cool down, but at camp, it’s much harder to get warm.
The most important thing is to have fun, relax and enjoy being outdoors and spending quality time with the family.