So, you’re going camping? Ready to “rough it” in the great outdoors, get in touch with your primitive roots, and become one with nature? Let me tell you a quick story. I remember a camping trip some buddies and I took when we were still in our teens. Before we set out we gathered tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, knives, hatchets, and plenty of water and food. But, when it came time to eat our first meal, we realized that only one of us-me-had considered bringing any silverware; I was the only member of our party possessing a fork. In the great outdoors, it’s the little things that can make a huge difference.
When I think of camping, I think of “tent” camping-a home in miniature. It’s the best way of thinking when creating your list of gear to take. Your tent is basically four walls and a roof, your sleeping bag is your bed, a good fire is your stove, and (if there are no accessible outhouses) your latrine is behind a bush-for which you may want to include a shovel. These are some of the basics. The devil is in the details, however. It might be a good idea to check out a couple of camping advice sites like, Camping.about.com or Countryfarm Lifestyles.
When I suggest the right gear for first time campers, I must stress making a list before you go-one that incorporates the necessities for survival and enjoyment. Here is an example:
You have a tent, but will it accommodate everyone? Will it repel the weather? Do you know how to set it up?
Do you have sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, mats or folding cots?
Did you bring flashlights or lanterns? Do you need batteries or fuel? Did you grab matches (waterproof?), a lighter, or flint? Firewood?
Do you have a cooler? Ice? Food? Pots, pans, plates-silverware?
Your list should be much more involved, and you should try to match your gear with where you’ll be camping, what you’ll be doing, and how long you’ll be out in the wilderness. It’s a good idea to include things like a canteen, a compass, a map of the area, and a first aid kit. You can visit sites such as Top Consumer Reviews or even Amazon for ideas-you might find a portable chair that fits in your backpack, or the all purpose Swiss Army knife. Take a book, in case you get some quiet time; I highly recommend “Call of the Wild,” by Jack London. Or read it before you go, so you get a good idea of what things you never want to be without while in the woods. And don’t forget the silverware.