7 Essential Camping Tips and Tricks for Beginners Like a Pro (2019)

Unplugging from your phone and computer to take a few nights in the wilderness is one of the best ways to relax and reconnect with nature. There is nothing more refreshing than watching a beautiful sunset and then sleeping under the stars!

We’d like to share our very best camping tips and tricks with you, so that you can camp in comfort and safety, while enjoying everything our beautiful, natural world has to offer.

Are you an experienced camper who wants to take a fresh approach to their next adventure? Or perhaps you are totally new to camping and would like to feel prepared before you make your first trip. Either way, we have lots of inspiring ideas to explore!

Where Do I Start As a Camp Newbies?

Time spent in the peaceful atmosphere of the forest or the mountains can be the perfect break from a busy, modern life. There are many different ways to go camping, so let’s start by looking at two of the most popular options.

#1 Campsite camping

This is a great choice for those who want to enjoy a few modern conveniences and prefer to camp with company. There is a huge range of campsites available around the world – from the small and simple where drinking water and toilets are provided, to larger, facility-rich sites with hot showers, swimming pools and games facilities for children.

You get to choose what suits you best, but bear in mind that popular campsites need to be booked in advance during busy periods like school holidays.

#2 Wild camping/primitive camping

This approach is for the intrepid camper who wants to be far away from the trappings of the modern world and immerse themselves in nature. Wild camping simply means pitching your tent in a natural location with no facilities (check local regulations to see what is legal in your area).

Primitive campsites are officially designated sites that have little or no infrastructure, though you may meet a few other campers or have access to a simple log cabin for shelter. These kinds of campsites are often found dotted along hiking trails and in national parks.

There is a wide range of environments that are fun to wild camp in:

  • Jungle camping
  • Mountain camping
  • Latitude camping
  • Lowlands camping

Your Essential Beginner’s Camping Kit

What you need to take on your camping trip depends in part on where you are going camping. The general principle is that if you are backpacking, wild camping or without a vehicle, your main priority is going to be keeping things lightweight and portable.

backpacking essential kits

If you are simply driving to a nearby campsite, then you don’t need to worry about weight restrictions, and you can bring heavier ‘luxury’ items like packable chairs or portable grills. Either way, the list of core items that you’ll need is as follows.

• Backpack:What kind of camping trip are you taking? If you’re simply driving to a campsite, then a daypack for shorter local hikes will be plenty. If you are doing a multi-day hike, you’re going to need a large backpack that is comfortable to wear even when full. Ladies – look out for backpacks designed specifically to fit women!

• Tent & footprint: How many people will sleep in the tent? What kind of climate are you camping in? Ask yourself these questions and choose a tent that suits your trip. It is worth investing in the best tent you can afford – if you treat it well it should last you a long time.

Buying a footprint for your tent is a great idea as it protects the base of the tent from rough ground. This is a small extra cost that can greatly increase the lifespan of your tent.

>>Read More: Reviews-Best Large Family Camping Tents to Back You Up (3-12 Persons)

• Sleeping bag & sleeping liner: These can make or break a camping trip! Once again, buy the best you can afford. Most sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, so be sure that your sleeping bag suits the climate that you are going to be camping in.

A sleeping bag liner helps to keep your sleeping bag clean and can provide an additional layer of warmth on cooler nights. On hot summer nights, you can unzip your sleeping bag and sleep in just the liner.

• Sleeping mat: Sleeping mats come in a variety of styles, from simple, thin foam-based mats to more advanced air or self-inflating pads. Self-inflating or air pads offer greater comfort and cushioning than foam pads, and if you’re willing to invest in one that is top-of-the-range, you will also find lightweight options that are suitable for backpacking trips and wild camping.

• Head torch or flashlight: It should go without saying that having a head torch or flashlight is invaluable at night, both for finding your way around a dark tent and for venturing out into unlit spaces. Don’t forget to carry spare batteries with you too.

• First aid kit: A first aid kit is absolutely essential for any camping trip, especially if you are going to be camping away from civilization. Purchase a ready-made medical kit designed for hikers and you know that you’ll be well prepared in the case of any minor injuries.

• Map & compass: Although many people are used to navigating via the GPS apps on their phone, a consistent signal cannot be depended upon when out in nature. Always carry a map and compass with you to be safe! Additionally, battery life can be problematic on longer trips. If you feel more comfortable knowing that you can recharge your phone, then it is best to purchase a portable solar charger or a spare battery for your device.

• Toiletries & toilet paper: The basics you’ll need are soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste. Pack any medications you need, as well as a quick-drying towel.

• Food & water: Your food and drink needs will vary depending on where you are camping. Will you be close to local shops where you can top up your supplies? Or will you be in a wilderness location that requires you to carry all your food with you? Plan accordingly.

• Cooking equipment: At the very least you will need are a stove and fuel, eating and cooking utensils and plates or bowls. You’ll also need a container in which to do your washing up, as well as some biodegradable soap and a sponge or pot scrubber. Don’t forget to pack matches or firelighters too!

Tips & Tricks Before Your Camping Trip

It is natural to feel a little nervous if you’ve never been camping before. Remember that our ancestors lived for hundreds of years without the advanced shelter and modern technologies that we are used to! If they could do it, so can you. With this in mind, here are a few tips to have you setting off on your first trip feeling positive.

#3 Keep it simple!

For your first camping experience, choose an easy option closer to civilization. A couple of nights at a fully equipped campsite with drinking water plus good bathrooms and showers will ease you into the routines of camping. From here you can build your confidence towards wild camping in remote locations.

#4 Do a test run at home

Once you have your essential camping kit ready to go, one of the best things that you can do to ensure a successful trip is to have a ‘trial run’ at home. This gives you the chance to test out all of your kits and feel confident that everything is in good working order.

Pitch your tent and set up your sleeping gear, and consider spending a night camped out in your back yard! This way you can be sure you aren’t missing any poles or pegs and that your sleeping kit is comfortable and warm. Try cooking a meal too, so that you are confident using your stove before you go on your first trip.

#5 Research your destination & be prepared

Look online for information and reviews about your camping destination. If you have friends or family who like to camp, ask for their advice too. Plan this first trip carefully and be sure you know what facilities are going to be available to you at the campsite.

#6 Look at the weather forecast

Having an idea of the kind of weather conditions you will face makes all the difference to your comfort and enjoyment. If you’re going to be faced with high temperatures, bring your swimming costume, a hat and plenty of sunscreens. If it is likely to rain, make sure you have waterproofs with you. Bring some simple activities like a book and a pack of cards to enjoy when the weather prevents you from being outside.

#7 Make a checklist and pack carefully

A packing checklist is essential to make sure you don’t forget anything. As you pack, tick off each individual item. Keep your checklist somewhere safe, and be sure to adjust the list as you gain more camping experience. Make a note of any lessons learnt from each new camping trip!

>>Read More: Camping Essentials Checklist: The Master Packing Guide [Printable]

#8 Attitude is everything!

Camping is an adventure, and in the end, the best thing that you can take with you is an attitude of excitement and curiosity! If you are able to enjoy slowing down and embracing everything that happens,  you’ll come away from your trip with great memories and plenty of wild stories to share.

It is also a great confidence booster to know that you are able to take care of yourself in a natural setting, and without being dependent upon on all the tools and toys of modern life. Every time you go camping, you learn something new.

Where Should I Set Up My  Tent?

tips to set up tent and get good sleep

There are some basic criteria to follow when setting up your tent. These will help you to avoid making some of the most common camping mistakes. These are mostly based on common sense and simple observation.

#9 Find a good ground

Look for flat ground and avoid anything with a slope. Slopes can mean water running under your tent at night, or finding that you and your possessions are slowly sliding their way towards one end of the tent during the night. Avoid setting up your tent in a dip or a trench where water can gather, and you are likely to find yourself cold and damp.

Once you have chosen a piece of flat ground, take a moment to check for sharp rocks or protruding tree roots. Clear away any small stones and branches to ensure that the base of your tent doesn’t get damaged. Following these steps means that you will be sleeping comfortably on a smooth surface.  

#10 Don’t forget to look up!

This is one that many people forget. If you are going to be camping under trees, look up to the tree canopy and make sure that there are no dead or broken branches above where you are planning to set up. The same goes for loose rock ledges. Take your time to observe the environment before you make your choice, and if in doubt, choose another spot.

#11 Check the location of the sun

When camping in the summer, you don’t want to set up your tent in a location that receives full sun as this can turn your tent into an unintended sauna! Be aware of where the sun rises and sets, and consider how this will affect the temperatures in your tent. In contrast, during the cooler months, you may want to opt for the sunniest spot you can find to ensure that you stay comfortable during the night.

#12 Stake your tent properly

It is easy to get lazy about this one, but staking your tent properly means you won’t be vulnerable to wind and unexpected changes in weather. Take the time to do this and you won’t run the risk of finding that your temporary home has blown off into the bushes!

How to Get A Good Night’s Sleep Whilst Camping?

This is a common concern for those who are new to camping. If you are wondering how you are going to sleep well whilst outdoors, we have plenty of trips that will ensure you feel well-rested. If you plan ahead and are well prepared, you’ll sleep well whilst enjoying the benefits of sleeping in the clean, fresh air.

#13 Invest in high-quality bedding

A high-quality sleeping bag is absolutely essential for your warmth and comfort. Choose the best quality you can afford – you get what you pay for! Choose a sleeping mat that fits your height and weight, and opt for a self-inflating or air mat that gives you greater cushioning and insulation from the ground.

If you are going camping with a car, you can also opt for a less portable and more luxurious option such as a standard air mattress designed for home use, and you can even bring your favourite bedding with you.

#14 Maintain a comfortable temperature

If you know you are a warm sleeper, be sure to have a sleeping bag that suits your body’s needs. Sleeping bag zippers allow you to regulate your temperature and ensure that you don’t wake up due to over-heating. On the other hand, if you tend to be cold at night, make sure that you have a sleeping bag specifically designed for cooler temperatures. Consider packing an extra fleece blanket or a thicker sleeping bag liner too.

#15 Have separate sleeping bags and sleeping mats

Having your own sleeping bag and a single sleeping mat is the best way to ensure that you are not woken up by the movements of other sleepers.

#16 Carry earplugs and an eye mask

A tent does little to block out the morning sunlight, so if you want to sleep past dawn, an eye mask is your best friend. Choose a material that feels good on your skin, like silk. Earplugs are also a great help when you’re outdoors, whether it is for keeping out the sounds of snoring campers or enthusiastic morning birdsong.

#17 Test out your kit before you hit the road

We’ve discussed this one already, but it is worth emphasizing how important it is to have tried out all of your camping gear before you set off on your adventure. In particular, make sure you are confident in setting up your tent, because this can be a source of stress.

#18 Set up camp well before sunset

There is nothing worse than trying to set up a tent in a hurry because it is getting dark, or worse still when it is already dark! Do yourself a huge favor and plan your arrival with plenty of time to get yourself settled in before nighttime arrives.

Hacks to Stay Hygienic, Healthy And Safe When Camping

This is such an important factor when it comes to having a good time outdoors. No one wants to have their holiday spoilt by sickness. Maintaining good levels of hygiene helps you to stay safe in situations where medical assistance is not close to hand.

#19 Wash or sanitize your hands often

To prevent the spread of germs, always clean your hands before preparing a meal and then again after eating. It is also good practice to wash your hands before gathering water or re-filling your water bottle. After every trip to the bathroom, be thorough and spend time washing your hands carefully.

#20 Outdoor washing & showering tips

When camping in an area with no facilities, the best option is to find yourself a clean river or lake where you can take a refreshing, full-body plunge. When this is not available, fill your washing-up container with water and clean your hands, face and armpits. A refreshing foot bath can be done this way too.

If you don’t mind carrying the extra weight, you might choose to bring a simple solar shower with you. This is a bladder with a shower attachment that can be filled with water and hung up. You’ll need a sunny day to enjoy standing under warm water!

Cautions: Dump your soapy water in the soil into the soil at 200 feet or more from the water source. Even biodegradable soaps can be harmful to aquatic life and can contaminate streams and river, so please don’t use these when you are taking a swim.

#21 Bury human waste away from water sources

When you need to go out in the wild, do this at least 200 feet from any water sources to prevent contamination of the water  (both for yourself and fellow hikers). If you are wild camping, carry a small hiking trowel for digging. Dig a small hole at least 6 inches deep and bury solid waste once you are done. Place a rock or stone over the hole to prevent animals from digging. Pack out any toilet paper in plastic bags, as this is safer than burning paper in the wilderness.

#22 Bring insect repellent to keep bugs and mosquitoes away

This helps to keep away mosquitoes and other biting bugs – these are a nuisance at best and a health risk in areas where mosquitoes transmit diseases. Consider carrying scented candles designed for keeping mosquitoes away, and be careful to leave your tent zipped up so they don’t get into your sleeping space. If you are bitten by a mosquito, aloe vera gel is a great natural remedy to help lessen the itching.

#23 Be prepared for all weather conditions

Don’t allow yourself to get really cold and wet, as this is a recipe for getting sick. Always carry a waterproof jacket and trousers, and avoid wearing cotton clothes as these are very slow to dry and will leave you soggy and uncomfortable!

When wild camping during really rainy weather, consider setting up a tarp that you can sit under. Keep yourself dry, get out your stove and enjoy a mug of hot chocolate as you listen to the sound of the rain falling.

Likewise, be prepared for facing hot weather – carry a hat, sunglasses, suncream and lightweight layers of clothing that allow you to moderate your temperature. Remember to hydrate regularly.

Any winter camping tips?

First and foremost, ensure that you have suitable clothing. Wear lots of layers and take care of your hands and feet with thick socks and gloves. Check that your sleeping bag is suitable for the coldest temperatures you are likely to experience, and have a 4 season tent that can handle cold and stormy conditions. Consume plenty of calories and eat hot food often. Fill your water bottle with warm water to sip during the day.

Camping Tips for Purifying Water When Outdoors

Most larger campsites offer clean drinking water, but if you are at a more basic campsite or you are wild camping you need to be prepared to provide your own water.

Camping with a car makes this easy, as you can simply fill the trunk with sufficient bottled water for your trip. When you are setting off for a longer period with a backpack, you have to be prepared to gather and purify water during your trip.

Natural water sources can contain harmful bacteria and viruses, so drinking directly from them is not advisable.

Here are four simple methods for ensuring that you have clean water no matter where you are camping. It is always best to have at least two methods available to you in case a piece of equipment breaks or is lost.

  1. Boiling – this traditional method requires nothing more than your camping stove and pan, and can be done at mealtimes to avoid having to unpack your kit at other times. Bring your water to the boil for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Survival straws – this a packable straw that is designed to remove bacteria and pathogens from water. They are lightweight and efficient. With a survival straw, you can even drink directly from a water source.
  3. Bottle filters and purifiers – these are built-in filters for water bottles that are convenient and easy to use. They have built-in filtration elements, and usually, involve a replaceable filter element. It is a good idea to carry a spare with you.
  4. Disinfecting tablets – these are often chlorine or iodine-based tablets that can be added directly to your water container. They are affordable and highly portable. The downside is that some impart a flavor to the water. You also have to wait a while before drinking as the tablets need some time to purify the water, so a little forward planning is required.

Outdoor Cooking Ideas and Tips

campfire cooking tips and ideas

Cooking can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of camping, and you get to choose how much you want to experiment with this! From simple ready-made meals to extravagant family barbecues, there are options to suit all tastes. Always remember to carry matches and a lighter with you.

#25 Decide what style of camp cooking you prefer

Small portable gas stoves – a popular choice that involves a foldable element that is attached to a miniature butane or propane canister. Great for simple, one-pot cooking and ideal for carrying in a backpack.

Portable liquid or solid fuel stoves – these are fuel-led by burning fuel tablets or methylated spirits, so they are both portable and very cheap to run. They involve a little less weight than gas stoves, so are an excellent choice for backpackers who want to keep their pack weight low.

Multi-burner stoves/hobs – these are larger and more suitable for camping when you have travelled by car. They are usually fueled by heavy gas canisters that are not suitable for carrying any distance. They allow you to have multiple pots cooking, so you have a great degree of flexibility in what you cook.

Open fire cooking– nothing is more satisfying than a meal cooked over an open fire. Many campsites have fire pits for you to use. Simple cooking forks can be used roast vegetables, or you can hang a fire-proof pot for making stews and soups. If weight is no concern, a sturdy cast-iron skillet can make you an amazing fried breakfast!

Camp grill – many campsites offer communal grills for enjoying an open-air barbecue. You might be waiting in turn if the campsite is busy, but this is a great option for grilling meat for larger numbers of campers.

#26 Some simple campsite cooking tips for you

Before you leave home, chop up some vegetables and place them in zip-lock bags so you have less preparation to do at the campsite. It’s also a great idea to bring aluminium foil for baking food directly in the fire. When cooking in a pan, always put the lid on as the food will cook quicker and you will save on gas. Bring a small amount of salt, pepper and some of your favorite dried herbs so that your food is always to your taste and good to eat even when it is simply cooked.

Bring a cooler if you are camping with a car, but focus on bringing plenty of dried foods like pasta and packet soups as you won’t have a fridge.

#27 Quick and easy camping food ideas you can try

Although there are many ready-made meals available on the market and it is great to pack some of these for those moments when you really want something warm to eat right away. However, it is also great fun to experiment with your own outdoor cooking. The flavor of food cooked over an open fire is really special, as is the experience of sitting around the fire with friends.

  • Treat yourself to skewers of mixed vegetables or roast some corn on the cob – they become sweet and caramelized when cooked on the grill or over the open fire.
  • Make some simple flatbreads with flour, water and a few dried herbs. Eat them hot with breakfast scrambled eggs, or dip them into your lunchtime stew.
  • Pack some sweet snacks like marshmallows to enjoy in the evening roasted over the fire.
  • Keep it simple with long-lasting wraps or tortillas with fillings like tuna and sliced onions or high protein nut butter.

Add salami or preserved sausage to packet soups for a fuller flavor and a more filling meal.

Are You Ready For Your Camping Trip? (In Conclusion)

We hope that these handy hints and backpacking tips leave you feeling confident and ready to enjoy camping to the full, regardless of whether you are an experienced backpacker or a total newbie. We wish you all the best on your next camping adventure!

Comment below to let us know if these camping hacks have left you feeling well prepared.

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