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Going on a camping trip first time ever. What do I need?


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Initial post: Aug 26, 2008 11:57:42 AM PDT
Waqas A. says:
Planning to camp overnight at a state park at the east end of Olympic Peninsula over the labor day weekend. The temperature will be pretty cool.

This will be my first time. What should my checklist of equipment look like, apart from the obvious: tent and sleeping bag?

Any advice welcome. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2008 2:01:46 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 27, 2008 7:20:50 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2008 6:06:40 PM PDT
RockLobster says:
Great! Welcome to camping, being outdoors and enjoying nature. The type of tent depends on type of camping. Car camping, meaning you'll have the car near by to store supplies, where the tent is like a base camp vs back country camping where you'd hike into the primitive area. I will assume you will be car camping. If that is the case, get a tent that you could stand in. The height will be listed on the package. I also recommend an air mattress along with the sleeping back to get a night's sleep, some ear plugs if it gets too noisy. Look at the weather get sleeping and hiking gear accordingly. Now on tents: dome tents are ubiquitous and are inexpensive but don't have straight walls. Straight wall tents may use all of the space where you can walk, but tend to be heavier, more complex and a little bit more expensive. At last look there are some good values on straight walled tents at target for this weekend. Next, I would make a menu for the entire trip to take the guessing out of eating. Sandwiches (chicken salad sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly) snacks like fruit and the like that is convenient but tasty. Bring more food than you would think. This may require a stove or charcoal and grill for the one good meal per day. Take the time to plan out your activities including the food you will eat to make your first experience enjoyable. You'll need a fairly large ice chest to keep food and drinks. Also, elevate the food and ice chest to keep away from insects. Check the park if there are special lockers if in bear country. I'd brin g a lantern (battery operated is fine), a flashlight, extension cords if you have an outlet for your campsite for a laptop to watch a movie at night! Bring some chairs to relax after a day of hiking or birdwatching. That is a start! Right now here in the Houston area, it is too hot to camp. I'm a little envious of the cool weather up there! Good Luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2008 12:49:27 PM PDT
Here is my checklist. I never bring all this stuff but it's a reasonable list to go over to see what I forgot.
*Toilet paper/ waterproof baggies
*Flashlight/ batteries
*Sleeping bag/ sleeping pad
*Tent/ tarp/ ground cover/ hammock
*Rope/ twine/ string/ duct tape
*Canteen/ water filter/ bottle
Rain gear/ stocking cap/ rain hat
*Boots/ spare clothing/ thermal underwear
*Water shoes/ sandals/ slippers/ camp booties
*Wool socks/ gloves
*Bug dope
*Matches/ lighter/ lighter fluid
Cook stove/ griddle/ spare fuel canisters
*Band aids/ first aid kit/ ibuprofen/ meds
*Mess kit/ plates/ bowls/ cup/ silverware
Pancake turner
Skillet/ pots/ pans
Coffee pot/ thermos/* jetboil
*Coffee/ tea/ hot chocolate
*Soap/ washcloth/ towel/ plastic dish scrubber
*MRE's/ dried food/ beans/ minute rice/dried potatoes
Powdered milk/ flour/ pancake mix
*Sugar/ salt/ pepper/ garlic/ mustard/ ketchup
Cooking oil/ butter
Eggs/ sausage/ bacon
Bread/ rolls
*Fruit rollups/ jerky/ pepperoni/ beef sticks/ salami
Cheese/ crackers/ trail mix/ gorp
*Granola (bars?)/ cereal/ oatmeal/ powdered milk
Marshmallows/ weenies
*Toothbrush/ toothpaste/ floss
Hairbrush/ shampoo/ mirror
Camera/ film/ spare batteries
Rods/ reels/ tackle/ rod tube
Pliers/ saw/ hatchet/ knife
*Windbreaker/ jacket/ poncho
Radios/ compass
*Trekking pole(s)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2008 1:01:50 PM PDT
Deck of cards and a book. If it starts raining hard and you are trapped in the tent all day, something to entertain yourself with is a good idea.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2008 7:31:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 27, 2008 7:41:00 PM PDT
If you take kids with you, then a good board game will do the trick. For adults, a deck of cards can go a long way indeed. One other thing to remember is to always buy the tent for 2 more people than you plan on attending the trip because what seems to rate as a person by tent maker standards is much smaller than normal comparisons. Also, a bathtub floor style tent will serve you well if you wind up in a monsoon on your trip. Dont forget a tarp to line the ground beneath the tent. This will protect the tent bottom from punctures, but make sure that the tarp isnt bigger than the tent as water will pool between the tent and the tarp and eventually seep in. Purchasing a large tarp is useful as it can serve as a rain shelter for any gear that wont fit in the tent.

A camp stove can be either bought or made (from empty paint/terpentine cans and some gel sterno), but what you really need to look for is an alternative fire starting method to matches (even waterproof) and lighters just in case the weather prevents either from coorperating. I'd suggest a flint/steel combination of some kind (sweedish firesteel is the ace in this category).

For sleeping bags, you have two styles to choose from: Mummy style and Standard. Mummy styles are great for colder weather while standard is the preferred style if you wish for a more comfy and versatile (as you may have to flip it back if you get too hot) bag not to mention the fact that you can roll over in it.

Another good purchase is a canopy. If you are staying somewhere that has a picnic table, the canopy can make that area a shade paradise. Cheap ones can be purchased anywhere, but look for one that has mesh walls to keep out the insects.

Something else to keep in mind is how to spend your time. It can become quite boring in the woods if you dont have anything to do, in fact, it's pure madness. Someone mentioned trekking poles. Those have never worked out for me personally, so I use ski poles instead.

Lastly, DO NOT forget to waterproof your tent before you take it into the woods. You can purchase a spray or gel and this is good for another reason; you get a chance to open your tent while within the safety of home where you can inspect it for any defects.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2008 7:30:49 PM PDT
Mr. Peach says:
A huge part of the enjoyment is going often enough to figure out what kind of gear works for you! There is a trade-off between going light and going all geared-up and you can only find out where your preference lies through first-hand experience. I once went for a one-week backpacking trek in the Grand Canyon with a guy who brought just an umbrella and a bottle of whiskey. He survived well and had a better time than some people out who were loaded up with thousands of dollars worth of luxury gear. A good guideline; take just what you need. No more or less. Excessive gear will weigh a lot and slow you down. Nothing is more ridiculous than seeing someone in the backcountry (who is presumably there to enjoy the outdoors) doing more fussing with gadgets than enjoying the outdoors. Other people's checklists are helpful, but the best thing to do is to use common sense (read a book), and go with people you like. If you can, have at least one person in your group be someone with experience.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2008 3:35:18 PM PDT
M. Hilbert says:
another idea if you are takking kids, is glow sticks. The kind that can go around the neck or the wrist. after dark it is much easier to keep track of them.
if you go hiking remember daypacks and water. The daypack should include emergency rain gear and high energy food, like survival bars or nutted candy bars.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2008 8:57:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2008 9:07:16 AM PDT
Cuvtixo says:
Whistles, and perhaps other noise-making signaling devices? These are good for: being lost, being hurt and unable to to shout, scaring away bears or muggers/rapists, etc.
Bring extra batteries, esp. for safety-related equipment like flashlights.
Also, be aware cotton clothes tend to retain moisture- A temperature drop can make damp cotton very uncomfortable (and potentially dangerous in a backcountry accident)
I trust Waqas is back safe and sound, but the responses here seemed too light in regards to safety. For the sake of rescuers, as well as yourself, be careful out there!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2008 9:52:27 AM PDT
Cuvtixo is right about the whistles (Fox style are the loudest) and the dangers of wearing cotton. Wool is the best to wear cause it doesnt melt if one gets too close to a campfire and if it gets wet, it still retains its insulating quality. For the base layer, look for capilene style shirts like the ones that Under Armour makes. With those, the sweat is pulled away from your body and your body heat dries the shirt so you dont wind up freezing in your own sweat.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2008 3:42:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 7, 2008 3:46:45 AM PDT
cobalt says:
You need water bottles, food, and shelter, either a liteweight tent and sleeping bag, or even better a sleeping bag, and a foam pad to put it on. You need a camping stove for hot foods, soups, noodles, etc. You need some bungie cords and some strong line. You need a good knife that you know how to use. You need hiking boots that have already been broken in. You need extra socks and washcloths. You need a very liteweight waterproof or water resistant jacket with a hood. And, very important, you need a compass that you understand, and a liteweight flashlight with a cord on it so you can carry it around your neck. You need extra batteries for the flashlight, and a tiny bottle of bleach for disinfecting water, if you need it. Also binoculars, a camera, and film are nice to have also. A good backpack can really come in handy carrying all this stuff.
Have a good time........Good Luck, you are going to have a wonderful adventure. And DO NOT FORGET your USGS maps, which you have studied in advance.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2008 10:22:06 PM PDT
Its too late to help now but for the future any question needs to include:
For how many.
Personal gear or camping gear or both
Expected weather and terrain details (temp, precip, woods, beach, open, sheltered)
Food questions
Safety (Again terrain, wildlife, remote?)
Clothing is also important.
There is no one answer. All of these factors are in play.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 11:29:39 AM PDT
John Feesey says:
You must go to REI and make yourself completely familiar with new products for food preparation and storage. It is essential to visit the footwear/ clothing department and get to know clothing layering and all the rain products out there. Camping in the Olympics is wonderful but is not for the unprepared.It is vital you especially understand the principals and mechanism of hypothermia for you and any little ones that maybe along.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2008 2:58:09 PM PDT
famousperson says:
I am very curious--how was the original poster's experience?!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2008 11:35:12 AM PST
Rent some stuff first. Borrow some stuff if you can. My personal preference is to go ultralight- something like a 30 lb. backpack could hold fuel and dehydrated food for 4 days and even a bottle of wine! Read up on hanging food-mice are pretty acrobatic, not to mention other critters. One more tip- a butane lighter is great, but having strike anywhere matches in a matchsafe is good insurance. Don't use commercial soaps in wilderness areas! Try not to use a light at night- just let your eyes adjust-or maybe just go to SLEEP -or just lie there listening to nature's music.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2008 7:08:50 PM PST
Great advice in this thread. Definitely add at least a foam pad to your basic tent and sleeping bag. Food you'll enjoy eating (including some Vitamin C for the kids -- chocolate) while camping that you can enjoy without preparation. Ziplock bags of all sizes, I see that at long last you can buy really BIG Ziplock bags. Headlamps are very handy, Petzl makes a couple that we have, they're really essential -- it gets dark out there! Bug spray of some kind, just in case (a couple of drops of diesel fuel may work, I've also heard that cinnamon oil works, either of these on the brim of your hat)(you're taking a hat, right?).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2008 7:34:07 PM PST
Gregg Downs says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2009 4:48:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 2, 2009 4:54:16 AM PST
Pine Marten says:
You need to be aware of the weather first and foremost, and make the appropriate decisions from there. Two things not to skimp on: tent and sleeping bag. If it's going to be 35 degrees, get a bag rated to 20, and preferrably down. Make sure you have a sleeping pad as well. Wear layers, have awaterproof option. Go with a headlamp(cheap these days) and a backup headlamp. Keep a pair of long underwear in the car, and always have hat and gloves available. Always have clean, filtered water available (many campgrounds have pumps). Don't keep food in your tent, ever. A nice one burner propane stove should get you going for around $20. A basic cook set will work too, but go with a nice pan so it lasts a bit longer. Utensils like the "spork" cut down on weight and are nice. Break in your boots before you go, you do not want blisters 3 miles into your trip.

http://www.parkcamper.com/

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2009 2:32:11 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 27, 2009 12:56:21 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2009 3:51:08 PM PST
This is for all you first timers who read this long after M. hodges returns home after the first outing. All the Advice above is essential. But, the best gear is home experience. READ READ READ. Online, has a ton of information. Magazines such as Backpacker are a great source of information. read the reviews about what they liked and what they didn't like. You can learn a lot from those who came before, that's what the reviews are for, to point you in the right direction. After you have your tent/bags, stove, and gear, take a lot of time getting used to your gear ALL of it. ( Don't be afraid to Change gear that doesnt work for you) Now it's time to "camp out" at home.... first. (Believe me I felt foolish setting up my tent the first time, in my own yard.) Set up your tent 2,3,10 times..... Untill you can put it up in the near dark without missing a step or a part. Sometimes you are on the trail, or get started, later than you planned, and it is necessary to put up your tent by "moon light" REMEMBER The backwoods is NO PLACE to try out new equipment! While your tent is still up, wet it down good, and let it dry. More than one camper has found out that, the out of the box seams, aren't always leak proof. Most tents are sewn with cotton thread. Once it's gotten wet and allowed to dry, the thread will shrink, closing the seams. Also, after it dries, seam sealer is a good bet as well, for extra protection. Make sure it is staked out tight (not so tight that it pulls the holes on the seams). Heavy storms seem to look for campers/hikers. prepare for the worst and you'll be fine in good weather. If the unexpected storm hits, you'll be prepared. A storm with 30 mph winds, is no time, to be refastening the tent corners. My 4 person tent has stood against rain being blown with 45 mph winds. In a 50 mph headwind and rain, the next morning there was only one wet spot 2"x2". I'll take that! It's easier to dry that out, than trying to dry out a totally soaked sleeping bag...or two. Sleep in your new tent a night or two. That will teach you quick what's comfortable. ( you'll also learn who has the "wiggles" all night long.) Fire up your stove on the patio (NOT in the house). Make sure you understand how it works. Set it up and tear it down a few times. Now fire it up, and "Cook up" a meal or two. There's nothing much worst, than food you can't eat. Hunger is a cruel teacher!( I've heard of one backpacker who only brings snicker bars and water on 3-4 day trips. I wouldn't recommend it though.) If you are going hiking/packing. Read up on how a packpack should fit. Packs are not created equal, or the same length. You should be measured, or know the vital measurements of your chest and spine. Nothing gets heavier than a pack that doesn't fit right. My pack is fit to my size. I can wear it fully loaded, and it rides easily and I'm good all day on the trail. Next, pack what you are going to use most, where you can get at easily. If , for example, your hairbrush is at the bottom of the pack, it gets old "dumping" out your pack to get at it. Remember, if you can't reach it easily, you won't use it. (People will know when you get back ;-). Pack and unpack several times. Breakables or leakers are not good in packs. Packs take a hugh amount of abuse and banging around. Way more than you would think. You should be able to toss your pack on the ground without anything comming apart or breaking. Believe me, by the end of the day you are tired, and packs seem to just fall off. (Except the guy with the bottle of whiskey)( I lived in an apartment house, and the downstairs tennant carried just a quart of water and wire fire rack. He walked all over the southwest deserts, for months at a time! His girlfriend stayed in the Grand Canyon for a month with just what she could find...Untill the Rangers finnaly caught up with her and kicked her out. It can be done...eventually.... start slow).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2009 3:33:07 PM PST
"Going on a camping trip first time ever. What do I need?"

A really good attitude?

All kidding aside, most books on camping have exhaustive checklists, and the other contributors made some great suggestions. Bring a really good attitude as camping involves numerous minor discomforts and hardships, and dealing with them with a smile is the difference between loving camping and hating it.

From a more material perspective, in addition to the obvious, a really good pocketknife like a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife (with scissors for moleskin, but not too big), as you'll use it for minor repairs, food preparation, first aid, etc. A hank of parachute cord is also a great thing, as it can be used to rig tarps, replace boot laces and tentlines, the core filaments can be used as fine string or heavy thread, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2009 7:01:23 PM PST
J. Parent says:
Will there be an outhouse? :D always pack a roll of TP just in case, you never know when it will come in handy. Outdoors a pocket knife will come in handy. Multi function if you must, but one single blade should get you by most anything! Fire starting... gasoline isn't the safest although can be fun. But go to the basics... matches, paper, kindling, logs, hatchet/axe for slicing wood etc...whatever you feel you need based on your skill level. many places you can find firewood, but some parks are strict so you may wanna check on that! Marshamellows, everyone enjoys roasting those over an open fire! If its cold possibly bring a spare bag or blanket in case yours gets wet. *If raining or wet outside, keep your sleeping bag from pushing up against that walls of the tent, this will save you some misery and frustration! Sunscreen/bug repellant. 2 pairs of shoes/boots, gotta keep your feet dry soldier! Oh, bring a beanie to sleep with, keeps your head warm if you don't have a mummy bag. The list goes on and on and on, but i'm sure your starting to catch on! Enjoy!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2009 9:35:28 PM PST
theinfamousj says:
I'm seconding cobalt's earlier post about a sleeping pad.

The first time I ever camped I bought a sleeping bag and borrowed a tent and brought food and was ready and raring to go. And had a MISERABLE time. Because I was cold the entire night.

Even in the heat of the summer, the ground wants to leech all your warmth out of you. A sleeping pad allows you to keep your warmth. Air mattresses, while super comfy and squishy, don't stop the thermal transfer to the ground. Conversely, sleeping pads, while spongy, don't provide the comfy mattress feel (because that isn't what they are designed for).

If you want a mattress-like feeling, places like REI sell 3" insulated sleeping pads that are designed to be essentially air beds, but they are pricey. Or you could just toss a blue foam pad on top of an air mattress. Stop the thermal transfer and get an air bed!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2009 8:16:40 AM PST
famousperson says:
I don't know if the oricinal poster was going back-packing or car camping (ot canoe camping or something else) which makes a BIG difference in what one can take! If car camping, some people even bring heaters for their tents!

I'm a motorcycle and back-packing type camper. The suggestions above have all been excellent. I ALWAYS carry toilet paper and some sort of solid fire starter. Also, a headlamp flashlight is a must. And camp mocs! It feels SO good to get out of those boots at the end of a day. They are worth the little extra weight/space they take. People have mentioned knives--I find a multi-tool with a bade, like a Leathrman, to be the most useful. Instead of a Swiss Army knife, which I find a little delicate for hardcore camping, I carry tiny foldable scissors for moleskin (which is also a must).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2009 5:58:27 AM PST
A swis army knive is a must
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Initial post:  Aug 26, 2008
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