Tent Camping: Beginners Guide To Camping Gear

The hot weather and pleasant spring temperatures bring ideal conditions for spending countless hours in the great outdoors. And with the right gear, you’ll feel like never want to leave nature.

Today there are no excuses anymore for not camping. You can make your tent camping trip to be as luxurious and comfortable as you want it to be or as much as you can afford it to be. So, most of us would only seek good weather to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.

When the weather is good we don’t have to worry about the cold or the resistance level (from rain or wind) of our equipment. Because the chances are they hardly will occur at all. So, in general, with seasonality in mind, 2 or 3-seasons gear should be good enough for camping or backpacking on beaches and in the woods on a fair-weather. That leaves us with weight and comfort as our main concerns when preparing for a one great tent camping trip. Giving some thought to these things can make your next camping trip way more fun.

When you first start camping it’s not easy to decide what to bring, buy or borrow and that’s why the suggested camping gear you’ll read about here is for any camping trip, whether is car camping or backpacking. 

When car camping you definitely can bring much more gear and stuff to make your stay in nature way more comfortable and cozy. Like chairs, tables, stove, shelter or cooler. If you prefer backpacking, then the weight of the pack that you gonna carry should be your main concern. Since you’ll be carrying all the weight on you while hiking, every gram counts.

Choose the right camping gear depending on where you’ll be using it and how often. If you are anything like me and like both ways of camping, car, and backpacking, the essential camping equipment such as your tent, sleeping bag, and pad, should be as light as possible and easily compressible as well so you can use them in both occasions. In that way, you won’t have to carry unnecessary weight on you when backpacking leaving you more room to stash other useful stuff in your pack.

TENTS

This goes without saying that we’d need a tent. And although we gonna use it probably only for sleeping and changing our clothes, having a good durable one is crucial for a nice camping experience, that should serve us years to come. And tents can differ depending on a few factors, mostly on seasonality, capacity, weight, fabrics etc. How to choose a tent?

Camping tents can be cabin or dome. These are the basic types of tents to choose from. Dome and pop-up tents are easier to be set up than family tents. So, inexperienced campers will have a lot more time to enjoy the day out. Dome tents with doors on both sides will make sure there won’t be any crawling over each other when getting in and out of the tent. Cabin style tents, on the other hand, give you more vertical walls and they also include features like room divider for privacy.

Hammock tents are so awesome solution for one to two people. They keep you off the ground which makes them very convenient option and you’ll make less damage to the vegetation. Except that sometimes you might not find trees to hang them on. Besides that you can easily take a nap just about anywhere, two people can comfortably sit on them as well. Undoubtedly they are the best for hanging out in the outdoors.

Although you’ll probably be out most of the time which is the beauty of the camping after all, still you’ll need one (or more) good tent where everyone will feel comfortable. How much space will you need will determine the size of the tent.

Tent capacity is very important. When a manufacturer states that the tent is intended for two persons, what it means exactly is, that the tent can only fit two people inside of average weight lying close, next to each other and that’s it. No elbow room or space for the gear or bags. If you’re looking for two to sleep in, you should size up the tent for at least +1 person. So, think of it this way, if you are a family of 4 a tent for 8 people will be comfortable enough for all. Choose depending on the number of people that will sleep in the tent and if you’ll be storing any gear inside or not.

Lightweight tents are made of nylon or polyester and have mesh for ventilation and insect protection. It’s good to watch for the vents options of the tent and the storage pockets. Ventilation is important for good airflow and control of the condensation. Tents made of solid fabrics with mesh for ventilation are a great camping option, rain or shine. For long family holidays, tents made of cotton or poly-cotton are another good choice. Even though the peak can be high enough to give a sufficient amount of space inside for moving comfortably, they are much heavier than nylon tents.

When looking for tent opt for rainfly as well, which comes as the last outer layer of the tent. It’s made of waterproof fabric that is resistant to UV rays. The area at the front doors of the tent, that extra space we always need,
or the vestibules, is quite important. You can put some of the gear there that won’t be in your way when going in, or you can stand when changing clothes before you enter clean and dry inside. They also go with mud mats for dirty shoes and pockets or utility loops for hanging clothes outside.

More to Read:

What else do we need for the tent to make our camping worry-free?

For maximizing the space in the tent pockets and hang loops will help you to better organize the gear inside the tent. Interior pockets are great for keeping your tent organized and your gear off the floor. Additionally, interior gear loft loops can come in handy. They let you add storage space above your heads or hang lanterns and other small items.

Waterproof tent footprints are used as ground cloths under camping tents to prevent the wear and tear of your tent against the ground as well water from pooling underneath the tent during rainy weather.

It’s very important to anchor your tent properly. For pitching your tent like a pro look for a good camping tent stakes that will stay put and hold your tent in any type of soil, regardless of how windy the weather might be. You can also find stakes that are intended only for specific ground such as sand for example.

One thing is for sure when tent camping and that is the little mess that goes with it, especially inside the tent. One mat for parking the dirty shoes and a nice broom and dustpan, for that little something dirt that will unavoidably go inside, is what you’d need.

When thinking of your pack weight make sure your tent and bag to be no more than 1.5 kg each. If your weight is your main concern a smaller cozier tent and lighter bag may be just right. Anything more than 1.5 kg of weight is going to feel like too much to carry in your backpack.

SLEEPING BAGS

Sleeping bags differ in warmth and weight. Since the weather will be already warm you won’t need to worry much when choosing the right sleeping bag. Although nights can get chilly even in the summer months. But, they do have temperatures ratings to pay attention at and can be intended for different seasons. If you only camp on the warm weather look for the bag rated for 5℃ or warmer.

They also come in different sizes and fillings. Rectangular bags are usually more spacious and are good for car camping on the campgrounds. You can also connect two bags together when the zippers are compatible, making it one double bag, suitable for couples. Mummy sleeping bags are warm and light that can be compressed more than other bags. So, you’ll have that space and less weight on you with them. On warmer nights you can always unzip your bag and use it as a blanket.

Insulation of the sleeping bags is determined by the fillings. There are two basic types of insulation that sleeping bags have: synthetic (man-made fabric) and down (feathers). The filling is what’s making your bag either warm or heavy. Down sleeping bag is lighter and more compressible than a synthetic one. With a down sleeping bag, you’ll be saving a lot on your pack space and weight, but they are more expensive than synthetic ones.

Each sleeping pad and bag has a rating called an R-value. The higher this number the warmer the pad or bag will keep you through the night. R-value is the measurement of the insulation that the pad or bag provides you with.

SLEEPING PADS/MATTRESS

You won’t feel very comfortable if you lie down on the cold hard ground only with your sleeping bag. A sleeping pad beneath you will make that layer between you and the ground that will keep you comfortable and warm throughout the night.

Backpacking pads should be easily packable and very lite like the closed-cell foam pads are. Their aluminized surface reflects heat, returning it back to your body. And although they are bulky they are the lightest option one can buy. There are also open-cell foam pads which are self-inflating. This is very convenient since you won’t need to blow them by yourself they’ll do their job well by themselves. Moreover, they come in various sizes and thickness to satisfy anyone’s needs.

You won’t notice much these differences in temperature between the ground and your body in warm summer months but you still may want something soft and comfortable, like one nice lightweight sleeping air mat underneath your body.

HEADLAMPS/LANTERNS

We need light to see in the dark and that’s a fact. Except for the fire, there are also other options for illumination. But, you won’t need to bring much of the lighting items with you unless you want to, of course.

Headlamps are a great solution for any outdoor activity and can be very light. You can only bring headlamps or a flashlight with extra batteries and save on your weight and space. Headlamps are especially good when trekking or hiking and its getting dark. You’ll find your way easier.

Since you’ll be drinking water anyway, if you strap the headlamp around the full water bottle, flip the light on, facing toward the bottle and turn it on, you’ll make yourself a lamp with just enough lighting for a whole tent. You can put the water bottle wherever suits you best in the base camp, like in a tent or at the picnic table for example.

There are other options such as lanterns as well that can broaden your choices and horizons. Hang these in tents or above tables. They can be electric or work on fuel. The good thing is that the batteries can last long hours on some of them and they give nice bright light that can be adjustable as well from low to high upon your needs. But, the best thing is that some have a USB port that allows you to charge small electronics such as cell phones.

BACKPACKS

Even when car camping, you’ll probably need one backpack, at least for minimalist day hikes, to discover the nearest surroundings. Backpacks mainly can be divided into three groups depending on the capacity: for day hikes (up to 30 l), for overnight trips (30-55 l), and finally, the big ones (55 l, and up) are used in multi-day trips or trekking. Here one can forget when choosing what to buy. And most of them are lightweight too. So it would be really difficult for anyone to make up the mind, I suppose. Anyhow one nice backpack for organizing your gear and stuff is what you’ll need.

Next thing to consider is the size of the backpack that should fit your body. To release the weight of your shoulders they also come with a hip belt that should rest on your hip bones. Your hips should carry the majority of your weight. Not every pack fits equally to every person. That’s why when buying or renting one you should try it first and see if the backpack fits well on your torso. If you don’t choose the one that’s right for you, you’ll probably feel like carrying double of your real weight on you every time you go on a trip. Never forget though: every gram counts.

These are all handy items that you shouldn’t go camping without:

  • GPS, compass, and maps for navigation and orientation
  • First-aid kit or first-aid supplies in case of small injuries and scratches, that should include sterile gauze and pads, band-aids etc.
  • Matches placed in a waterproof case or waterproof matches and fire starter for the campfire. No matter how bad the conditions you get the fire going quickly with a fire starter.
  • Multi-tool (ax, hammer, pocket knife, saw, multiple blades, screwdrivers, file, pliers, wire cutter, can opener, wrench), and duct tape that can fix almost anything and save you the day sometimes
  • Tent and sleeping pad repair kit for quick and small repairs of holes or tears
  • A rain jacket will keep you dry and protect you from the winds
  • Garbage bags for your trash
  • Toiletry kit, toilet paper or baby wipes and hand sanitizer for hygiene
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent you won’t survive without on a hot sunny day. You can also use natural mosquito repellent such as sage to keep mosquitos away. Place a bundle of sage in your campfire to keep mosquitos and other bugs away.

As a beginner, the best advice would be to rent the gear for your first camping trips. If you are not ready to buy or invest in camping gear or simply you are not sure if that’s your thing, just rent it. In that way, you’ll have more fun and chance to explore with different gear for a while.

When the weather is on our side enjoying nature and the outdoors can be very affordable. On a warm sunny day you won’t need to spend much money on camping gear unless, of course, you want to.