The days are longer, the nights are getting warming, and it’s finally time to hit the road for that camping trip you’ve been dreaming of all winter. But, of course, before you take off for your grand adventure of camp coffee and an outdoor latrine, make sure you have everything you need for maximum outdoor fun.
Whether you’re an experienced camper (looking at all you wild winter campers out there), camp a few times a year, or are just starting out, it’s always a good idea to take a look at all of your gear, make a list, and check it twice or thrice before heading out into the great unknown (or that campsite down the road).
Check out this list of all the basics you’ll need this camping season:
Tent & all the tent-ssentials. Unless you plan on hammock camping or roughing it real hard under the stars, you’re going to need a tent. What kind of tent you decide to buy will depend on what kind of camping you’re doing – backpacking, multi-season, luxury, etc. First things first, decide what kind of camping you’re down for then go from there. The kind of fabric you’ll need, and ultimately the type of tent, will depend on it. After you’ve decided, tent shop till your heart’s desire. (But don’t forget your tent footprint)
Sleeping bag. Same as the tent, you’ll want to purchase a sleeping bag that’s best suited for the kind of camping you’re going to be doing. You don’t want a hefty bag if you’re going to be backpacking, just like you wouldn’t be too keen on a lightweight bag if you’re planning on sleeping in lower level temps. Decide what bag is going to best suited for your camping situation, then you can go on to the fun stuff, like picking out the shape (mummy or rectangle) and color.
Lighting. Headlamps, flashlights, lanterns – you’re going to want some kind of light source when you’re out there wandering around. Even on a warm summer night with a full moon, the woods are still going to be dark. Probably a lot darker than you’d expect. Whether you spend $1 on a cheap flashlight to get your through the weekend or $40 for a nice big lantern to light up the entire campsite, as long as you can see to get in your tent at night, you’ll be just fine.
Water Filters. Here’s the thing, you don’t need a water filtration system if you’re planning out a camping trip. You can just as easily buy enough water to bring with you prior to your trip, but that’s a lot to tote around, not to mention to amount of plastic you’ll be racking up while you’re out there. It’s probably a good idea to bring a couple things of water to keep in the car just in case (unless you’re backpacking, of course), but there are plenty of inexpensive water filtration devices, like Life Straws, that you can re-use multiple times. And don’t forget, whatever bottled water you do end up taking, make sure that empty container find its way to a trashcan by the end of the trip.
First Aid Kit. This one is kind of a no-brainer. If you’re going to be out in the forest, far away from hospitals and pharmacies and stores of any kind, it’s wise to bring along something to help with cuts, scrapes, and headaches. You don’t need to go all out (unless you just really want to), but a standard first aid kit with bandages, aspirins, gauze, bug spray, and other outdoor-specific ointments isn’t a bad idea at all. In fact, put that at the top of your list. You’ll be happy to have that cortisone cream when you accidentally grab a long strand of poison ivy.
basic camping types
So you’ve decided to go camping. And you’ve talked a few of your friends into tagging along for the trip too. But other than the essentials, you have no idea where to start looking for campsites. Or even what kind of camping you want to do.
If you’re going to be braving the great wide open, you’re going to need to know how much braving you (and your camping partners) are willing to do. There’s dozens of different options out there, but here’s a list of the most common types of camping (and campsites) you’ll hear about when planning for your next big trip.
tent camping: This is what most people think of when they hear the word “camping.” It’s your regular ole tent, sleeping bag, fire pit, hot dogs for dinner kind of set up, typically with a restroom and showers close by. There are tons of options available out there for this sort of camping, whether you want to be out in the woods or at a campsite. For families or those who simply prefer access to running water, some of the best places to camp are Vogel State Park, Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, or Toccoa Valley Campground.
survivalist camping: This one is for all you hardcore adventurists out there. Taking camping to the extreme, or back to the basics depending on how you look at it, survivalist camping isn’t something you should try on the first go. It’s definitely something geared toward the more experienced outdoor enthusiasts, especially since the whole idea is to be completely isolated from civilization. And this normally includes having access to a cellphone or Internet. Needless to say, this type of camping isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you can handle life without Instagram or a toilet, then it’s worth every second. Just load up your car, pack you bag, find a place out in the woods somewhere and set up shop.
backpacking: This can be a toss up between tent camping and survivalist camping, depending on the route you choose to take. Basically, you pack yourself a bag with everything you’re going to need – tent or hammock included – and set off on a trail. You can hike and camp every day while you’re out there any length of time you want, from one day to six months (like hiking the A.T.) or forever, if you really want to. While you can definitely find campsites to backpack to, make sure you do plenty of planning before you set out on this venture. It’s fun, but it can get scary real fast if you don’t plan ahead.
rv/van camping: The most luxurious of the basic camping options, RV or van camping is exactly what it sounds like – you camp out in your RV, van, or whatever vehicle you have. If it’s anything smaller than a van, you can get away with pulling up and parking at a campsite, but anything larger and you’re going to find yourself at an RV park. Like backpacking, or really any type of camping, how long you’re out there is really up to you. Some even make it a lifestyle and live the RV/van camping life forever. Basically, if you want luxury with your great outdoors, then this is your best bet. And if you’re in the Northeast Georgia area, Blue Ridge Lodge & RV Park is an excellent place to park it up.