How to Camp – An Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

How to Camp - An Ultimate Beginner's GuideNow I know what you are telling yourself…..I would really like to camp, it looks fun but I have no idea how to camp, what to bring or what to expect. There are a few things that you really have to determine before you can figure out what you need to do to get ready for your camping trip.  Answering the following basic questions will guide you to finding your footing.

1.  What type of camping have you decided to do?  Did you want to RV camp?  Camper/Trailer camp?  Tent camp?  Backpack/Hike camp?  Canoe/kayak camp? 

Determining the type of camping you want to do can aid you in what sort of equipment and expertise is needed.  For example, you would need a vastly different sort of equipment for RV camping versus hiking camping.

Camping descriptions:

RV Camping (or recreational vehicle camping) is most like living at home because you bring a furnished vehicle that you basically live in with you.  You can make your RV just as comfy as you like.  Everything that you need from home can most likely be brought with you in your RV.  All you really need to think about are what foods and personal items you would like to stock it with.  This type of camping is generally for the people who do not like to “rough it” but also might like to be social since many times RV are parked fairly near each other or in similar sections.  Though there are some normal maintenance items with RVs, you basically park them and live in them.

Camper or Trailer camping is just a step more rugged than RV camping.  Many times campers or trailers do not have showers or toilets, unlike most RVs.  Depending on the camper or trailer, a refrigerator may not be included either.  Generally, camper or trailer camping is more for people who do not like to sleep on the ground or worry about severe weather but still want to get out there.

Tent camping is generally more for people who would like to “rough it.”  Tent camping requires you to think about all of your basic needs ahead of time (food, hygiene, restroom requirements, shelter, seeing at night, warmth).  There are actually varying levels of tent camping as well.  Some people like to bring a tent and shop for all of their needs while others like to camp in more remote areas away from people.  Packing for a tent camping trip can be time consuming because you have to think of everything you might need.

Backpacking or Hiking camping is a bit more for the experienced campers.  Think about it…everything you think you are going to need you have to be able to strap to your back and carry it for quite a distance.  You have to be able to pack well and pack light!

Canoe/kayak camping is much like hiking camping in regards to packing but you have to add another element.  You have to make sure that everything is waterproof.  Canoe/kayak camping would be for the more experienced camper and of course, for people who know how to canoe and/or kayak.

Recommendations for camping situations:

RV Camping – Shop around and do research before you decide on an RV for purchase.  Talk to people who already own them and ask them what they like and don’t like about their particular model.  Go to RV dealerships and walk through a bunch of them.  Maybe, go as far as renting an RV on a small trip to see what you do or don’t like about RV camping.

Camper/Trailer Camping – Because there might not be amenities like a refrigerator, more setup and forethought is required.  You most likely will have to purchase a cooler or two to keep your food and beverages chilled.  Also, you may have to think about generators if you would like to run electrical items.  Though you might have beds in the camper you may have to put bedding in.

Tent Camping – Think about the type of tent camping you’d like to do.  Does my tent have to be lightweight?  Waterproof?  Wind sturdy?  What size tent do I need (family size or just for me)?  What terrain will I be camping on?  A good camping tent can make all the difference on your trip.

Backpacking/Hiking Camping – Look for lightweight supplies, as you have to carry them all.  Equipment research into lighter weight sturdy hiking backpacks is a good idea.  Always check ahead of time if the area you wish to hike and camp allows people to do so.  Pay attention to “no trespassing” signs and heed them.  Check your weather!  You need to know what equipment to pack for the weather.  It is also recommended that you camp with a buddy.  In case something should happen, there should be someone who can go get help.

Canoe/kayak Camping – It might be advisable to take some canoe or kayak lessons (and swimming lessons) before attempting a camping trip in this way.  Perhaps you may wish to rent a canoe or kayak to make sure you like the activity before diving in.

2.  Where have you decided to go camping?  Are you going to be camping in the Desert?  Beach?  Forest/woods? 

This is a very important question to answer in order to figure out your main needs.  You’d prepare very differently for desert camping than you would for camping in the forest.

In Desert camping temperatures can have extreme ranges from the heat of the day to the cold of the night.  The biggest threats (most of the year) in the desert are the sun and dehydration.  It is very important to protect yourself with sunscreen and drink plenty of water.  Due to the dry air you are not aware of how much you are perspiring because it evaporates so quickly off your skin.

Beach camping is very nice but you should prepare for it.  Due to the nature of sand it is difficult to weigh things down with normal tent stakes.  There are tent stakes that are much longer for this specific purpose.  You also must be prepared for the possibility that sand could get into everything.  Depending on how deep in the sand you’d like to go you should think about the vehicle you are using to get there.  Again, with the nature of sand it may be difficult to dig yourself back out.  You may wish to bring a shovel or random piece of wood.

Forest/woods are usually great for shelter from rainstorms and sun.  They are also great for hammocks but you have to be aware of biting insects and certain itchy plants.  Bug spray would be a huge recommendation for camping in the woods.

3.  When or what time of the year are you going camping?

Figuring out what type of weather you are going to have to deal with while camping is key.  Personally, I think this is the most important information required to plan a proper camping trip.  Of course if you have an RV, this information probably doesn’t help you because you aren’t exposed to the elements.

Colder weather camping obviously requires warmer clothes but you may wish to consider a warmer camping sleeping bag regardless of what method of shelter you are using.

Wetter weather camping means that your terrain may be more difficult to deal with.  If you are tent camping, it would be recommended to lay a tarp under your tent, look for slightly higher ground to pitch your tent and always use your rain flys.

In hotter weather always make sure to keep yourself hydrated.  If you bring your water with you, bring lots.  If you are hiking camping, you may wish to consider a water treatment or a camping water filter.

Congratulations on taking your first step toward camping by answering these preliminary questions.  You are now on your way to planning for a camping trip tailored more to your specific needs and desires.

Below is a list of general items to take camping.  Please take from it what works best for you and your situation.  Note: Personal items should be included at your discretion.

Things to take camping:

FIRST AID/SURVIVAL KIT

  • Prescribed medications
  • Snake bite kit
  • Calamine lotion
  • Insect repellent
  • Distilled water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs
  • Bandages
  • Moleskin (for sore feet)
  • Tweezers
  • Needles
  • Feminine products
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Individually wrapped gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic
  • Clean old towel or part of bed sheet folded up
  • Steristrips (to hold cuts together)
  • Aspirin
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Aromatic ammonia
  • Glucose packs (for diabetics)
  • Water purifying tablets or filtration kit
  • Razor blades
  • Waterproof matches & container
  • Whistle
  • Solid knife
  • Hydrogen peroxide

BASICS

  • Tent (tarp, stakes, rain fly)
  • Sleeping bag (sleeping pad for under or air mattress)
  • Pillow
  • Small hatchet
  • Flash lights (& good extra batteries)
  • Camping lanterns (with fuel or good extra batteries)
  • Disposable butane lighter
  • Compass
  • Maps
  • Hammock
  • Cooler (& ice)
  • Water (and/or water filter or water purification tablets)
  • Clothing (weather appropriate)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Good walking shoes
  • Personal toiletries
  • Pocket knife
  • Canteen (or hydration pack)
  • Firewood (bring or buy at campsite)
  • Backpack (and/or day pack)
  • Camping
  • Games (cards, frisbee, small portable games)
  • Camera (& good batteries)
  • S’mores fixings (large marshmallows, graham crackers & Hershey’s® chocolate)

COOKING?

  • Obviously food (canned & packaged usually do well)
  • Stove (& fuel or charcoal) or a grill or dutch oven
  • Pot & pan (and cooking utensils if planning to cook)
  • Cups & plates & eating utensils
  • Re-sealable plastic bags
  • Plastic containers
  • Paper towel or napkins
  • Note:  If there are bear boxes where you camp…..use them!

THINGS OFTEN FORGOTTEN

  • Can opener
  • Wine bottle opener
  • Utensils
  • Towels
  • Soap (dish soap & bar soap)

IN CASE…

  • Flares
  • Folding shovel
  • Tea bags
  • Broth cubes
  • Poncho
  • Candles
  • Rope or cord (12′ to 24′)
  • Signal mirror
  • MREs (military term for “meals ready to eat”)
  • Suturing kit (for extreme cases)
  • Fish kit (& 15′ of 10 lbs. line & sinkers & 35mm film container & fish hooks)
  • Water filter or water purification tablets
  • Lifejackets (camping near water)
  • Baking soda (for toothpaste, insect bites, antacid, odors, etc.)

Lori Denil

Serious Sporting Goods Camping [http://www.serioussportinggoodscamping.com]

[http://www.serioussportinggoodscamping.com]

Your Camping & Hiking Equipment Source!

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Why Should You Use Hiking Poles?

Why Should You Use Hiking Poles?Why should you use hiking poles is perhaps the first question that may strike in your mind especially when you are a beginner. To get the right answer for this question you need to consider two things i.e. Safety and Comfort. Hiking poles are just balancing sticks which help you maintain good balance that is closely related to your overall safety and comfort. When you use two poles you move as you have four legs which allow you better comfort and safety. Experts say that by using hiking poles you switch to 4×4 mode of driving, using your two legs and two hands.

As far as safety is concerned, a pair of hiking poles helps you prevent frequent fall downs on uncertain tracks, avoiding aches in ankle or knee or even back; and here comfort is pointing towards the convenience in walking such as maintaining right walking posture and pacing using two extra legs.

Although it is personal preference and an individual decision to use hiking poles but they can prove to be very helpful for you during your hiking. You must use hiking poles especially when you are on your first hike. And, I think next time you will yourself carry these sticks with you by seeing their countless benefits.

Thousands of people who have already used (or still using!) hiking poles for years could not be wrong and this is the reason that poles are considered the traditional way to move on uncertain tracks while maintaining good stability. Although, hiking poles have countless benefits but below given are some significant benefits which enforce us to use them every time we go on hiking and trekking:

Safety- Safety is the main reason of using hiking poles. Hiking poles, in reality allow you the extra pair of legs to maintain good stability on the uncertain trails and when crossing fast streams or difficult terrains. Without having hiking poles you may fall down that may end up in injuries and accidents, and if you don’t fall even then ache in knees or ankles is a common mishappening you may face. When you have hiking poles with you, they keep you safe by preventing fall downs, bad steps which may cause of sprained ankle or knee.

Indeed, safety and convenience are the main reasons of using these hiking and trekking poles. Let’s see some other benefits/advantages of using them.

Weight Distribution- Hiking poles or staffs help us to reduce weight on our feet and legs. The modern design of the hiking pole distributes the weight evenly on the whole body instead of legs. According to one estimate poles can reduce 15% of weight from your legs by spreading it on the arms and other parts of body. As they act like your legs so they also bear some of the weight. Especially when you are climbing on a steep hill, the poles bear much weight than in normal walking so the percentage of weight may rise even further.

Pacing- When climbing on a steep hill, you will find your hiking poles more helpful for pacing yourself. I have personally seen their advantages to pace my steps. No doubt, hiking poles can easily speed you up by acquiring your weight and by allowing you to maintain good stability. You can maintain your speed without having so much huff and puff (needless to say more sweat!). And finally you will find that you have won over the trail without so much effort that really hurts. Certainly you will not feel pain in your back because poles allow you to walk in your natural position.

Comfort- Hiking with poles feels comfortable because you can walk in your natural posture while climbing on a hill or coming down. Your hands also remain in comfortable position; another better thing is that your hands remain above the heart which is also comfortable and beneficial as it improves the blood circulation that ensure less stressed body after the hiking. Many research studies and findings have clearly shown their cardiovascular, orthopaedic and other health benefits, as a result they advocate that not only circulation is improved but heart rate is also said to be reduced. A landmark study in this regard was published by Dr. G. Neureuther in 1981. Therefore, almost every seasoned and experienced hiker or trekker actually uses them and advises others to use them.

At last but not least using hiking poles for trail riding is not a wrong decision at all as they have countless benefits and uses, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have any disadvantages. Experts believe that using poles may increase your total energy expenditure as your hands are no longer hands but will become two extra legs when you use them. Basically, your arms are not designed to prop up your body, nor to distribute weight, but to do certain other things that are expected to use your hands such as to open up the map, carry your drinks, eat a snack, wipe off your sweat, to grab branches of a tree to pull yourself ahead, to take a photograph, or occasionally to carry the hand of your partner. Undoubtedly, these things are not possible or comfortable when you have hiking poles in your hands and it will become relatively clumsy, time consuming, and sometimes even frustrating to carry them.

Well these were certain limitations of using hiking poles, but only an experienced hiker knows that these limitations in themselves are very limited. Of course these can be easily overcome as you grow and matured with them. However, most of the time it is generally seen that many people don’t actually know how to use them correctly and how to carry them properly. When they buy these hiking poles, they go for most stylish, fashionable and feature filled poles, but failed to recognize how to use them properly to reap their true benefits. For example, they buy adjustable hiking poles with compass fitted and with a camera mount, but don’t even know how to adjust them to a right length. As a result the majority of the people get little or no benefit from them except adding few extra pound of weight in their backpack to put more weight on their back.

But in actual sense, you must educate and familiarize yourself with your hiking poles and right techniques to use them. Then you will find that it only adds few extra pounds of weight to your packing but helps you in many ways. Actually pole less hiking is great for the slack packers who walks very short and come back their home in sunlight. But the hikers those who walk very long on the trails in day light as well in the night must use hiking poles. They are perhaps your best companions while climbing or walking on relatively difficult, snowy or muddy terrains. Specially when walking in after hours you should use poles to discover holes, stones and bushes in the absence of light.

I sincerely believe, by now, you may have understood yourself that why should we use hiking poles.

All the best!!

Mats Lundkvist
Trek Lightly!
http://www.hikinghelp.com/blog/