A lot of people toy with the idea of going camping with a tent. Although they shudder to think of all the daily necessities that they have to give up if they proceed with this adventure. Especially if they take their camping to an area away from the campground with bathroom and shower facilities.
Going on a camping trip, in my opinion, can be as good or bad as you make it. There can be times that you can run into some issues such as forgetting items that you need back home which can be quite irritating especially if you are far away from home. But that is for another story and there are always solutions to those problems.
What I’m going to go over here are the basic things that you would need for your tent camping experience, which would get you started so you can at least know what you would need to start with. Then if you choose to continue pursuing camping with just a tent, there are other things that you can add to make your experience easier.
The one thing that I find people are always asking is, how much equipment do you really need and is it going to break our wallets getting into this adventure.
My question to that is, it doesn’t have to break your wallet, and there are places that you can actually rent equipment such as REI or borrow camping equipment from a neighbor or a friend until you decide to get your own gear.
So, let’s start our quest with the main item on the list.
Back when I was in the military, we had what was called pup tents. Basically, you had one side for the shelter and another person had the other side. The reason for that is if you had to use it in a survival situation you could make a lean-to which is essentially a one-sided shelter that protects you from the elements.
When you put the two halves together it would make a little tent with just enough room to go to sleep in. And there wasn’t any wiggle room.
When I was stationed in Alaska, we had 10 men tents that were made out of canvas. They actually did a really good job of keeping the cold out. And we had a stove that we could set up in there which made it toasty warm.
But those two examples are for military applications. In the civilian world, there are lots of options for tents, and depending on when you are going to be camping, and how many people are planning to be in the tent will be the deciding factor as to what kind of tent you will be using.
Tents are fairly simple to set up and here are the parts that you get with the tent.
There is the footprint or flooring that goes under the tent and that is to protect the bottom from sticks or stones from tearing through the bottom. If the tent that you get doesn’t come with one, you can put a tarp on the bottom and it will act as the same thing.
The outer tent or rain fly is what protects you from wind or rain. On some tents that would be an outer layer that you put over the tent itself to waterproof it and it becomes a double-wall tent.
There are tent poles that go through loops that sewn in the tent and they criss-cross over the top of the tent. And that is what holds the tent up.
Guy lines and stakes securely hold the tent down so as to not get blown over in the case of wind.
Depending on how many people are going to be staying in a tent, I would recommend getting a tent that is going to be one person larger. That way there will be more room to move around and a place to store your gear if need be.
One recommendation with tents is to put it together at home before you head to the camping site. That way you will be better acquainted with the tent and you will be able to see if there are any pieces that are missing.
For your sleeping accommodations, you will need to get some sort of sleeping pad or air mattress. If this is your first time sleeping out in the wilderness, I would recommend using an air mattress as it will be more forgiving on your back.
The purpose of either the sleeping pad or air mattress is so there is a buffer between the ground and your sleeping bag. That will keep you warmer at night.
Every once in awhile I like to go and sleep under the stars without a tent. Where I’m living now, you will find mostly pine trees and I will find one with enough room to lay under the branches. That way if it starts to snow or rain I’ll have some form of shelter.
I would then lay pine boughs down and put my sleeping pad on top of the pine boughs, then my sleeping bag with an outer cover so as to keep my sleeping bag dry. When I wake in the morning and all through the night I have that pine smell. Which personally I love.
A sleeping pad is great also depending on which type you get. You can get the ones which are just a one-layer foam pad, or you can get ones which will self inflate upon unrolling them, and deflate when rolling them back up.
Again, unless you have had previous experience sleeping on the ground, I would recommend going with an air mattress for the first time.
For the sleeping bag, there is a variety to choose from. There is a rectangular, barrel shape, mummy, and double sleeping bags. I personally like to use either the barrel shape or the mummy sleeping bag as it keeps my head warm.
And also depending on what time of the year you are planning your camping trip, depends on what the temperature limit is for the bag you are planning to use. So, for example, I live in the Pacific Northwest and temperatures can vary and it makes a difference in where I camp.
So, generally during the summer months, I will use a sleeping bag rated for 20 to 30 degrees. It keeps me fairly warm and if I get too hot, I just unzip the bag a little. I use a bag rated for 20 below zero when camping in the snow. If you do decide to go camping during the winter months, use a mummy sleeping bag as it will keep you head warm throughout the night. Although I’m guessing that most of you will be camping during the summer months.
Building a fire
Building a fire isn’t as hard as you think. Make sure if you are in a campsite what their regulations are in regard to building a fire. I’ve seen some people build fairly big fires which is great if you are having a bonfire by the ocean side. Although at a campground it should be kept to a minimum where you can at least roast marshmallows.
If it is just you and a couple of friends then you would make a small fire pit by placing hand size or bigger rocks in a circle. That will contain your fire and the ashes as well. Some campsites do have fire pits with a metal ring and it does the same thing as the rocks.
You then get some dry twigs and stand them up in a tepee formation. The twigs should be about 8 to 9 inches. You will then put your tinder or some dry grass under the little tepee. That is where you will start your fire. Once your little teepee formation starts to catch on fire. you can then start to adding wood about an inch or two in diameter.
Just make sure that the wood you add is dry because if not, it will start to smoke really bad. Once you should have a fairly good fire going, you can then add larger pieces of wood to it.
Once it gets hot enough and the fire is going by itself, all you have to do is every once in awhile, poke the bottom with a stick so as to add oxygen to the bottom and add wood as needed.
And there you go you now have a campfire. Sitting by a crackling campfire is where stories are told and memories are made, especially if you are with some friends or your family. Believe me, once you get that smell of the campfire stuck in your head, those memories come back every time you get a whiff of that smell.
The one thing you want to make sure of with campfires is that before you go to sleep and when you leave. You will want to douse it with water then throw dirt or sand on it. You will want to make sure that the fire isn’t still smoldering and all the embers are doused.
Food and cooking utensils
When we go camping and if it’s just for a day or two, we take food that is fairly simple to make. For example, we will take hot dogs, hamburgers, canned food since they are easy to heat up. For breakfast, we’ll take eggs, sausage or bacon, coffee, and other beverages as well.
If you are planning some strenuous activity when going camping such as hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, etc. Then I would bring along foods that will give you energy and snacks throughout the day. CLICK HERE to take a look at my other post here on ideas for energy snacks.
Now if you are just lounging around camp and you are just there to relax and get away, then, by all means, I would take various types of foods. That also depends on how long you plan to camp out.
You can take foods that you eat on a daily basis although some of which you might have to prepare before you leave on your adventure. A lot of people don’t realize that the foods that you eat on a daily basis, can make your trip more pleasant. It gives some part of your mind the routine that you do at home.
One thing about your food. You have to remember that you are out in the wilderness and not at home where you can just leave food on the counter. If in the event you do such things, you will find all the creatures both big and small will come for a visit.
So, the best practice for your camp is to store your food in your coolers away from your tent and always wash your dishes right after eating. CLICK HERE for more ideas for storing food at your camp especially if you are in bear country.
For cooking and heating up water, I bring along small two-burner propane stoves which fold up and are convenient. In the past, I have used the campfire to cook my food and heat up water which works fine. Although after doing this for a while, I prefer using the propane stove. It’s one of those things that makes it much easier out there.
The utensils that you are going to use such as forks, spoons, cups, and plates can be the ones that you use on a daily basis. I wouldn’t recommend using fine china as it might get damaged.
There are camping utensils that you can get which is made especially for the outdoors. And once you get those it will last you for a while before you have to change them out. With pots and pans, you might want to go to a local Goodwill and find some. Or you can use the ones you have now, although just remember that they can get damaged during your trip.
If you are on a budget, I would recommend that you CLICK HERE for ideas to help you find cheap camping gear.
Time to take on your adventure
Well now is the time to plan your adventure and since this might be your first time, I would recommend staying in a campground that has restroom facilities and showers or for the first time camp out in your backyard. It wouldn’t be the same but you will get a feeling for sleeping under the stars.
That way you can get accustomed to being outdoors and setting up your tent and such all the while getting used to this style of camping with a tent.
Now there are some things that I have left out that you will want to take such as flashlights and bug spray as an example. Although I will cover that in another post and this is just the basics to get you started camping with a tent.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and other than that let’s start planning on when and where you will be going on your camp out.