Camping for some is the great escape, a venture into paradise when done properly and in the right places. However, to others, camping is extremely boring and insufferable, and for these people, it’s always best to find out before purchasing the whole package. Finding out if camping is going to be a lifelong obsession or a pain in the neck would be one of the top tips for novice campers.
For the avid tent camper, it’s very easy to spend thousands of dollars on fancy, high-tech gear, but a young family just trying camping out for the first time can get away with buying a full package of camping gear, with everything needed for a comfortable long weekend at a private or government-run campground, for about $100 USD.
If it’s your first foray into camping, spending more than a couple of hundred dollars is more than enough to cover a tent, four small air mattresses, and all the cooking utensils, pots and pans, a lantern and a couple of folding camp chairs. Stores like Walmart, Target, or any other department stores all have camping packages that run from $99.99 to over $1,000 for a young family of two parents and two children.
A couple or a few friends can even get away with spending much less for their first camping trip, as all they really need is a 4-man tent: the rest of the stuff you need to bring can be bought at a dollar store and brought from home.
So, why be so cheap? The problem is that you may not like camping: it’s not for everyone. But, if you happen to end up being obsessed with it, as an avid camper, you will never regret spending that first weekend in the woods, on the mountain, by the river or ocean, or in a friendly campground.
When starting out, first-time campers should start off at a public campground. You can get a water tap and electrical outlets in your camping site, with public washrooms, a canteen, pre-split hardwood for campfires and cooking fires, showers, and a guarded beach. Games rooms, Wi-Fi access, and even concerts and outdoor movie nights are popular events at privately-owned campgrounds. Once you get the feeling that this is something you can really get into, it’s time to start spreading your wings.
After the privately owned campground, provincial (Canada) or state (United States) campgrounds offer a lot more privacy, as publically owned campgrounds usually have tents plopped down almost on top of each other, and many times on slabs of concrete or hard-packed dirt. The further you get from a city, the more likely you are to find a nicer campground with more privacy, fewer rules, and better amenities.
Once you’ve established that camping’s in your blood, and there’s a much better chance of that happening than not, if your first camping experience is at a nice, waterfront campsite, you should start upgrading your gear, buying a couple to a few items each year.
Start with a better tent, going with a modular design or a quick setup tent, depending upon your circumstances and where you plan on spending most of your camping time: If you’re going to camp more in the wilds than at campgrounds, then weatherproof tents with separate modules make more sense.
After you’ve accumulated a good tent, it’s time to start buying better camping gear: A portable fuel camp stove, lantern, stackable pots, pans and utensils, portable chemical toilets, rain, and bug-repellent tent-cabins. The list is nearly endless, and you can buy a few items every year, or every time you go camping and still feel you don’t have enough, or the best.
And, once you’ve established that you’re obsessed with camping, the final tip for novice campers is to explore the wilderness for more secluded and unknown camping sites. Do most states and provinces have considerable tracts of land that?s deemed as public access, which means that you can simply go looking for the best possible campsite and setup camp, no charge (unless it’s in a provincial or state park, where entrance fees, daily rates, and no-alcohol, no noise after 8 pm, no campfires and many other strict rules usually apply).
Look for public access land outside of the park’s systems, as it’s free, wild, and wonderful. You can camp beside a trout-filled stream, a hot spring or beside a mountain vista, and have wild animals trouncing through your site. Once you’ve found the perfect campsite for your personal desires, a bad day’s camping will always be so much better than a great day at work.