Camping Gear 101: Easy Beginners Guide To Camping Essentials

Camping trip coming up? Not sure what the essential camping gear items are? Walk with me, lets order up the 5 basic gear items needed for your camping adventure.

After living in all corners of the US and camping and/or living out of a backpack from coast to coast, I have learned a few things along the way (sometimes the hard way).

Fortunately, when you make mistakes, you get to learn to form them and I’m here to share those mistakes with you and share what I learned about what you actually need vs what you don’t need.

Essential Camping Gear: The Basics

Are you looking to escape the normalcies of life and get into the wilderness? If your answer is yes, then great! But first, there are some things you need to know to make the most of your experience. A lot of things could go wrong in the outdoors if you are not properly equipped both physically and mentally. Fortunately, there are some basic tips and tricks for making the
experience as positive as possible. Here are eight essentials for your first camping excursion!

Finding A Great Camping Location 

See that? Who doesn’t love a good freebie? We’re just cranking this up and it cost you nothing! The first step in jumping into camping is finding the right place to camp. This really is the essential camping gear you need. Generally, your first time in the outdoors should be in a warmer month. Depending on where you live going in early May or late September are pretty good options. This is because you don’t want your first camping experience spoiled by very hot or very cold temperatures. Finding the right day to go is crucial. 

Thankfully, a lot of places in the world have public camping areas where you just need to pay a small fee and you will have your own campsite. There is some good info here to locate a free camping spot. Another great option is to find either private land where you have permission to be there or public land and scout out your campsite. 

Some things to look out for include flat ground, close to a water source, a dry area, and no dead limbs overhanging. All of these are very important to ensure your comfort and safety. This is the first step to becoming a true camping wizard. Once you have a location or two in mind, it is time to start collecting equipment. 

The Right Tent

Ok, so, it’s no longer free, but that was fun, right? The comfort of your trip starts with the right tent. You need a tent that will keep you warm and protect you from the elements. The most common type of tent would be either a nylon dome or A-frame. But of these are great options as they are durable, lightweight, and fairly breathable. 

If you are going to a longer period of time, or you just want more space, you can look into a wall tent. These are tall, canvas tents that you can stand in with ease. These are great for longer excursions because they are very sturdy and take longer to set up and tear down. 

The more adventurous you get, the more options you have. There are hammocks, cot tents, suspending tents, and even sleeping under the stars. But to start, you should probably stick to the basics. Amazon is a great starting point for a new tent, click below:

Sleeping Arrangements

Let’s get cozy. Now, once you have your camp established, it’s time to do some work inside your tent. Sleeping comfortably is the key to a successful camping trip. Without a proper night’s sleep, you can’t enjoy your time awake.

So, having a good sleeping setup is crucial. This starts with a sleeping bag. There are a lot of great options and brands, but the only thing that matters is the temperature rating for them. Bags can range from 50 degrees to 50 degrees below zero. It is up to you to check the weather before going and plan accordingly. Experienced campers will have a couple of different bags that are made for different weather conditions. 

Generally speaking, a bag between 25 and 35 degrees is a safe bet. But it truly depends on your local climate. We have an excellent guide on Cold Weather Sleeping Bags here. Now, you need something to sleep on. If you have plenty of space in your tent and your car to bring it, a cot is a fantastic option. This keeps you elevated off the ground and in a comfortable position. 

A lighter and more compact option is a sleeping pad or air mattress. For maximum comfort, you could bring a traditional air mattress, but you may not want to drag a pump around with you. In that case, there are smaller mats that only take a couple of minutes to blow up ad will provide you with an inch or two of padding. For Kids and Toddler, check out our Guide to Sleeping Bags for Kids here.

The most basic option you have is a sleeping pad that is super light and convenient. This is a big section of the list because your happiness and comfort rely on a good night’s sleep. 

Layered Clothing Options

The biggest tip regarding your clothing when camping is layers. You need to dress in layers. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not packing enough clothes. When it gets dark, the temperature drops. When you wake up at the crack of dawn, it can be cold. You must be prepared for these factors. 

Now, this does not mean to just grab the biggest coat you see and call it a day. You want to dress in layers. This means shirts, pullovers, hoodies, jackets, and coats all working together at once. Because you are in the outdoors all day, layers will allow you to add or shed them based on the temperature changes. 

Great Food!

The last major thing you need when going camping for the first time is food. Cooking your meals while out in the wilderness is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have. However, it can make or break your time in the outdoors. 

Before you can pick out the food, you need a way to cook it. If you want to cook over a fire, that is an excellent option. If that isn’t your style, a camping stove is your best bet. Along with some basic cookware, you are all set to start cooking! 

Now, there are a couple of things to consider when picking what you want to eat. If you can keep ice and food cold, fresh meats and cheeses are the ways to go. There is nothing wrong with grilled up some steaks if you have the means to keep the meat fresh. 

If this isn’t an option, there are tons of great instant meals where you only have to add hot water. It may sound weird, but there are truly some great meals to be had without having to keep anything cold! 

Essential Camping Food Gear Items:

Essential Camping Gear Wrap Up

And that’s it! It may seem daunting but sticking to the basics and keeping it simple is always the best for your first time. By following these types and getting the right gear, you can have a great time with family and friends. Happy camping! and go GET OUTSIDE!

Mike is a Colorado resident, a combat veteran, and a former Police Officer, and an avid outdoorsman. Mike has camped, hiked, and Overlanded all over the United States. From backpack Elk Hunts on Public Land, solo truck camping to Multi-week Overlanding adventures with his family, Mike is very familiar with these outdoor topics.

Recent Posts