The Total Beginners Guide To Camping

So you want to go camping for the first time? Perhaps it’s to connect with the family, or perhaps it’s on an adventure filled weekend with friends, or perhaps it’s even camping solo to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life!

Unsurprisingly, we absolutely love camping and being outdoors in general really. However we also know that for the total beginner, things can seem a little overwhelming and more often than not you’ll be so overwhelmed by all of the little things that you’ll forget something big…like your tent (yes, we’ve really heard that story!)

Today we wanted to make your leap into the great outdoors as simple, fun and easy to follow as possible, so without further delay let’s get camping!

1) Do your research

This is a real biggie when first getting started with camping and something any seasoned camper will tell you…Do your research!

Firstly, when it comes to the weather, obviously the UK is pretty notorious for mixed weather and certain parts of the year are drier, warmer, wetter, colder than others.

A great tip that we often use is to check the weather history of the location you’re planning on going to. Has it rained almost non-stop there for the past 5 years? You can prepare for that. Likewise is the area prone to things such as flooding or quick climate changes? These things are totally fine, as long as they don’t catch you off guard so it’s always good to scout out the area online before heading out there.

Likewise, knowing what time of year you are planning to camp is a big advantage when it comes to your gear. Most folks typically plan a summer camping trip and pack nothing but shorts…As we all know, the UK weather changes in a heartbeat, so bringing a pair of ‘emergency waterproofs’ is definitely not a bad idea!

It’s also important to research any potential hazards that might be found in that area, for example, if you’re heading to Scotland, watch out for things like Ticks and Midges, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your bug repellants sorted before you get there!

For most beginner campers, we would recommend using a well established campsite before heading to the highest peak you can find. They are everywhere and often come with the luxuries that many beginner campers, or those with families require, toilets, showers, supplies etc. It’s important that you also know the rules of the campsite for example some allow dogs, others don’t, some allow things like barbeques, others don’t, so it’s important to do your research before going! 

For those who are considering ‘wild camping’ for the first time, the same rules apply – In most parts of the UK (except parts of Scotland), it is illegal to simply pitch a tent wherever you want and camp for a week, so it’s important to do your research and get the land owners permission if you are planning to wild camp. For those who are desperate for an England or Wales wild-camping experience, we’d definitely recommend organisers such as – The Nearly Wild Camping Club.

2) Writing Your Kit List:

When it comes to kit lists, most first time campers can be split into two categories, the:

‘I must bring absolutely everything approach’ or the
I’ll get it when I’m there approach’

In reality, somewhere between the two is where you want to be – When writing your kit list, you should be feeling prepared for most possibilities, but not accounting for every possible eventuality.

A lot of people often panic here and load their car, or pack with things like food, toiletries and general supplies. Unless your goal is to completely escape society for the week, most campsites and locations are within an easy driving (or walking) distance from some kind of modern suburb, so if you are really in need of something like food, you’re likely not too far away from a shop that supplies it so there’s no real need to take it with you.

This is also true for things like first aid, yes 100% you do need to bring a first aid kit, but do you really need 10 different types of bandage and plaster? Probably not…Stick to the essentials and you’ll be fine!

As a general rule, the key to camping is to travel light and smart. One rule that we often find ourselves using is if it can’t fit in your pack, do you really need it?

There are a few essentials however that are worth breaking down here, which brings us nicely onto tip number three…

3) Know Your Gear

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Tent – As this is essentially your home for the duration of your trip, you’ll want to make sure it’s going to do what you want it to!

Make sure that the tent you’ve got is prepared for the trip you’ve planned. For example, are you planning on trekking between campsites each day? You’ll want a lightweight and easily collapsible tent. Are you heading somewhere that is particularly prone to rain? Get something waterproof!

You’ll likely want to do a ‘test run’ at home before putting up your tent for real in order to check you’ve got all the pieces and the tent is big enough for your trip.

This being said, we definitely WOULDN’T recommend blowing your budget on a tent that is only really relevant for the most extreme conditions on the planet if you’re just starting out.

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Sleeping – Similar to the tent, ask yourself if your sleeping bag is up to the task at hand. We often see people buy cheaper sleeping bags and then discover that they either weren’t insulated well enough or were far too heavy for their trip.

Sleeping bags do come in all shapes and sizes and there are plenty out there that deliver an amazing job and are incredibly versatile, for example: the Rab Solar 4 is a fantastic all-around opten with a comfort temperature of -3°C but extremes of -28°C. For more tips on how to find the perfect sleeping bag for you, read our guide here!

Cooking – The final area to consider for the beginner camper is cooking. Cooking outside is actually one of the funnest things about camping and is a great way to both get the kids involved and also cook some meals you might not often try.

With that however, comes a degree of preparedness and willingness. If you’re camping in one place, you can opt to go a little heavier with your options, however if you’re on the move, you’ll want both a stove and some pots that are portable, light and super compact.

Stoves are quite tricky because there’s a number of different types and also a number of different fuels that are required, luckily however our team have already written this handy guide to helping find the right stove for you!

If you’re just starting out backpacking and looking for a stove suitable for UK camping, a gas stove is our choice for its simplicity, speed, ability to control the flames and the availability of canister gas. Read our guide here.

Likewise for interesting and fun meals to bring on your trip, check out our Camp Kitchen series!

4) What Are You Getting Up To?

When most people go camping, they usually have an agenda in mind, are you heading to the coast for some swimming or water sports? Or are you off to the Lake District for some incredible views on your hikes?

Depending on what kinds of trip you’re planning, you’ll want to make sure you’re also packing the right gear for the job. If you’re hiking you’ll want to be sure you’re fully prepared with a great pair of walking boots, our experts are here to help find the perfect fit for you!  Or if you are heading to the hills and are fully expecting to encounter some uneven terrain, have you considered using walking poles? Read our guide on the different types of pole here!

Now that you’ve got all your gear and know how to use it, you’re ready to camp! Get out there and book the trip of your life! If you would like any further help or information on any of the equipment out there or on our website, our team are available on both livechat and via email!

We can’t wait to see your adventure! Be sure to tag us on social media using the #ForTheOutdoors!

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