Let's talk about camping! Camping is probably my favorite thing to do in the outdoors. I’ve gone camping every year since I was in my Mom’s stomach! You could say that the forest in my blood.
My favorite place on this entire earth also happens to be a campground, Fish Creek Campground that is. What a glorious place my friends. “Fishy” is what my family and friends call it! Here is me there happy as a pig in mud.
Well let’s get into the meat of this blog. I’m going to talk about various things that you should do every time you camp and what sorts of gear you need to do it! I’m a very budget friendly camper, so the product recommendations that I’m going to give are literally for the gear I actually own and have used for a very very long time.
How did I learn how to camp you may ask? Well let me tell you. I have a very wise father who drilled these lessons into my brain every year we went camping. Thankfully for you, I now can painlessly share them with you. Let’s get into it.
Tip #1 Place Down a tarp
The tent. Potentially the most important piece of equipment on the site. It keeps you protected from the elements while you sleep and can act as a second closet.
Before you set up your tent, grab a handy dandy tarp and place her on the ground! This will keep your tent from leaking, even though it shouldn’t, if it rains at night. You don’t have to buy some extremely fancy tarp, here is a cheap one I’d buy below.
Before we move on, you have to get yourself a good tent. You don’t have to sell your soul for it. The tent I used was on the top 10 tents of 2019 list and I paid less than $50 bucks for it. I've also added in a good family option, my family sleeps in this other tent I've added below.
Tip #2 How to properly set up your tent
This one may seem stupid, but guys I have seen almost 90% of people camping doing everything the wrong way. Not only does their gear not last, but it’s dirtier. Look even little girls can do this the right way, that's a shot at all the guys reading this btw.
First, unroll your tent onto the tarp you set down. Stake all corners of the tent into the ground first (at an angle so they stick in the ground). Then put together your tent poles off to the side. Next, without EVER stepping on the tent, kneel down with your feet off on the dirt and thread your poles through the tent. Then you can raise the tent, opposite corners at a time. Place your tent pole that goes in the rain tarp, then put the rain cover on top of the tent. Volah! You’ve got yourself a nice looking tent.
Tip #3 Dig a moat
That’s right! You’re building a castle to protect yourself from squirrels (just kidding). Dig a small trench around your tent to direct water away from the tent if it rains at night. Otherwise your campsite will flood and be all messy and nasty, you don’t want that.
Tip #4 Purchase good camp lighting
Now that you have a nice looking tent, you’ll have to put the right things into it. Buying lights for your campsite is a game changer. They aren’t expensive and made a world of difference. Here are all the lights that I use when I’m camping.
Tip #5 Sleeping gear
I can’t explain to you how many people I went camping with and they had absolutely the worst sleeping situation and therefore camping experience. Once you buy camping gear, it’ll literally last you forever. My family gear is from the 1970s, I kid you not and it’s the best dang stuff ever.
I’ve been a Coleman girl since forever (not sponsored though I wish), and it’s quality stuff. There are many awesome camping brands out there, you just have to know what to buy. I’d recommend getting a sleeping bag 20 degrees or lower. That way you’re covered pretty much unless you’re winter camping. Trust me guys, it’s always better to be hot than cold.
I really dig the North Face Homestead series, but well it’s pretty. Not only do they have sweet patterns and colors, the North Face is also another brand I’m extremely loyal to.
Having a good sleeping foundation is always important. I personally love cots, but a good inflatable pad is the best. I literally bought mine for CHEAP.
Next thing is bringing a good pillow, your bed pillow works fine but I also like to keep mine nice and clean for when I go home. I bought this ALPS pillow and everyone I’ve gone camping with is jealous about it, make your friends jealous too.
Tip #6 Avoiding Animals
So if you think there isn’t wildlife all around you when you’re camping, God bless ya. No matter where you are, creatures are around. It doesn’t mean that they will hurt you or even ever show their face, but you should be aware of your surroundings and what you could potentially encounter.
In the woods, there are most likely squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, deer, foxes, and potentially bears. In the desert, there are potentially snakes, cattle, scorpions and other nasties. Don’t be afraid, I’ve never had a negative encounter with wildlife while camping ever and you now know I’ve been camping A LOT.
There’s no need to let the potential of wildlife ruin your trip, but it’s always good to be aware and take the necessary measures. For instance, never bring food in your tent at night. Animals CAN smell it and will be attracted to it. Also, be mindful of your garbage. We always hang cans and such on a nail in the tree in a walmart bag and then throw away the real garbage daily.
You can always put things in your car, but animals can actually smell that too. I know one time we went camping and this lady had a bear rip the side of her car off trying to get the snacks inside. To avoid this, I’d recommend buying airtight containers and bins to put your food in. Also always make sure to completely close your coolers, they can be a source of interest too.
Speaking of coolers, having a good cooler that keeps the ice frozen for as long as possible is totally worth investing in. Again, once you buy something like this, it’ll last you forever and potentially your kids. Here are the coolers that I love and use.
Tip #7 Building a fire
Having a roaring fire while camping is pretty much the whole point right? The smell of campfire is literally my favorite smell ever, ask anyone who I’ve been camping with and they can tell you that. I intentionally wear sweatshirts and jackets near the fire and then purposefully don’t wash them for a while so they smell all roasty…… don’t judge.
There are many different ways that you can build a fire, but the BEST way I’ve found is the teepee method. I’d recommend carrying either a lighter or waterproof matches. First start out with kindling, which is anything that can get a fire started (newspapers, etc.), and make a teepee! Kind of like this:
Then as that starts to catch fire, slowly add slightly larger sticks. Be patient, if you smother the fire it’ll just go out and don’t use wet wood. The best way to prevent your wood from getting wet is by keeping it under a tarp. If your wood has gotten wet, just lay it around a raging fire and it’ll dry out quicker.
Getting back to the teepee method, make sure you bring some sort of hatchet. I bought the one below super cheap one and it works pretty good for the small stuff. If you’re trying to literally split wood, I’d recommend getting an axe. Be careful, you’re not a lumberjack and taking an axe to the shin isn’t pretty, trust me I’ve seen it.
Once you have a good fire started, just keep adding wood to keep her going! Grab your smores stuff and relax in a good camping chair.
REMEMBER: Always put out your fire or watch it until it has gone out. I’ve learned that forest fires are no joke and can severely harm many people and ecosystems.
Tip #8 Camp Cooking
Speaking of yummy food! The best type of food you can ever eat is while camping. Everything just tastes better for some reason.
There are many ways to tackle cooking while you’re camping. You can buy a pizza from the gas station, or get real with it. When I’m with my family, we cook things like hamburgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, and kabobs. Nothing crazy intense, but better than chips.
We use tools like the ones below. Super simple.
You can also tackle cooking from a backcountry gear standpoint with a Jet Boil and such. However you go want to go about it, I’ve laid out the gear you need.
When you’re done chowing down or doing anything else wasteful at your campsite, make sure to always leave no trace. Take out your garbage and clean up after yourself!
Well there you have it! The necessary knowledge to have a successful camping trip. I hope this helped you and your future adventures Remember, at the end of the day it’s not the gear you have, but the time you spend in the outdoors with the people you love. Grab your buds and head out exploring!