Everything to Know Tent Camping for Beginners

Tent camping is an excellent way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. It is one of the main reasons why people go camping! That connection to Mother Nature… Having a tent as a place to sleep is also a cheaper way to explore, vacation, and plan overnight road trips. Sleeping in a tent is low maintenance, making it a more freeing experience. Having a tent is way less maintenance than owning an RV, and it costs way less to have and use. Camping keeps things simple making it incredibly liberating! Just pack your gear, throw everything in the car, and go! Keep reading to learn more about the basics of tent camping for beginners.

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Simple Camping Guide for Beginners

If you’re reading this, you are most likely a beginner tent camper and you have probably been curious about everything you need to know before you embark on your first adventure.

So exciting! You’re in the right place! We put this beginner’s guide to camping together just for you!

Camping is our favorite outdoor activity! We will talk about all the basic tent camping gear essentials you should have, personal items to bring along, items to pack to practice good hygiene, what to eat during a camping trip, how to find camping near you, along with tent camping tips and tricks! Keep reading for all the basic details on how to get into camping. We will share all of our camping advice for beginners.

Basic Tent Camping Gear Essentials

As a beginner camper, you do not want to miss having these gear essentials while preparing for your first camping trip.

Below is a list of tent gear essentials to purchase or borrow:

We have Thermarest, Coleman, and The North Face Gear below!

Click image to buy on Amazon!

Tent Camping Guide

Before purchasing your tent, think about the type of camping you plan to do and with how many people.

For example, if you plan on backpacking somewhere, you will want to look for gear made for backpacking that weighs less, so it is easier to carry and compress.

If you plan on tent camping from your car, you do not have to worry about your gear’s weight as much.

Always go a tad bigger on the tent size. My husband and I have a two person tent, but it is not very comfortable for us to squeeze into together unless we are backpacking! So, we also have a four person tent that gives us more room when we go car camping.

Think about what kind of climate you will be camping in—most people camp in the spring and summer during their first camping trips.

Once you have your camping gear, practice setting up the tent before your first trip. Knowing how to use your equipment makes for a stress-free adventure!

Always make sure your tent is rainproof before your first trip.

Other Camp Site Items to Consider Bringing

Before heading out on your first camping adventure, consider which other types of creature comforts you would enjoy having around.

When car camping, we always bring our firewood, fire starter, lighter, hatchet, cooler, and camp chairs.

Below are some of our favorite creature comfort items we bring camping.

We also pack a simple camp kitchen. Check out our post on how to create a simple camp kitchen!

Personal Items to Bring Camping

Along with camping gear, consider which personal items you would like to bring. We recommend trying to pack simple, light, re-wearable, and as practical as possible.

Below is an example of things my husband and I bring camping during the spring and summer. We usually pack synthetically made gear that is warm, sweat-wicking, and anti-odor so we can re-wear.

  • Wool socks – at least two pairs
  • Fleece
  • Rain and windproof jacket
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Wireless cell phone charger
  • Cell phone
  • Camera with extra batteries
  • Pants for cooler evenings
  • Pants for warmer days
  • Shorts
  • Sleeping thermals
  • Brimmed hat
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Hiking or walking shoes
  • Hiking sandals – depending on what you plan to do
  • Undergarments
  • Sunglasses

We each have a waterproof duffel bag with all of our items stowed.

Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit, sunscreen, chapstick, and bug repellant!

How to Stay Clean Camping Hygiene Tips

Now you might be wondering if you should bring toilet tries and what not to stay clean. Yes! Bring your creature comforts!

To remain clean camping, know what kind of amenities the campground you are visiting offers. If you know there is a shower ahead of time; you can bring your showering toilet tries. But if not, then no need to bring showering toilet tries…

Below are the basic items to help you stay fresh!

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Body wipes – the best camp hack to stay clean!
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags

What to Eat During a Camping Trip

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Open fire cooking pre-made tamales with tomatoes roasting

Alright, we have the camping gear covered and personal items to bring covered. Let’s talk about another vital aspect – eating!

The cool thing about food is you can make it as straightforward or as complicated as you’d like, depending on your camp kitchen setup.

Here are some ideas for easy grab and go meals:

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal
  • Almond butter
  • Fruit – pre-sliced if it keeps well
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Granola
  • Yogurt

Lunch

  • Jerky
  • String cheese
  • Sandwich supplies
  • Sparkling water

Dinner

  • Simple charcuterie boards – meat and cheese
  • Brats
  • Mini guacamole cups with tortilla chips
  • Hummus with veggies
  • Pre-made tamales with a side of roasted tomatoes – photo above just warm up over the fire

Snacks

  • Granola bars or protein bars
  • Trail mix
  • Fig bars
  • Chocolate …. Now we are talking!

Don’t forget to keep snacks close in the car for your road trip there! We always have the following on road trips:

  • Chomps
  • Sliced mango
  • Kettle Salt & Vinegar Chips (husband’s favorite)

Yes, road trips are an excuse to eat junk food!

Water

Make sure to bring plenty of potable water to drink. The standard rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per person per day. We always pre-fill a 7-gallon water jug at home.

Check the campground facilities ahead of time to see if there is also a freshwater supply to drink and wash dishes.

Once you have purchased or borrowed all your gear, you will want to find a place to camp!

Keep reading to find out how to find camping spots near you.

Guide to Car Camping

For your first camping trip, we recommend planning a location ahead of time close to where you live to make things more enjoyable and more straightforward. This is why we recommend car camping for beginners during your first time camping!

Plus, car camping allows you to haul as much as you feel comfortable in your car to get familiar with the camping process.

How to Find Camping Near You

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Primitive camping at Lake Powell in Utah

There are lots of different options and types of areas to search for camping. Start by searching the internet for the following places near you.

Nowadays, most places will let you select a campsite ahead of time (unless you are on public lands).

Campgrounds hosted by any federal agencies (National Parks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) will let you book ahead through recreation.gov.

Most State Parks have websites to book ahead as well.

Tent Camping Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Below is a summary of the 10 most important tent camping tips for beginners.

  • Research camping gear before purchasing
  • Practice setting up your new tent before the trip
  • Check to be sure your tent is waterproof
  • Select a camping location before arrival
  • Consider camping during less busy times like during the week – we do this!
  • Consider what the campground offers for amenities such as bathrooms and showers before arrival
  • Make your first trip overnight closer to home
  • Check the weather before you go!
  • Pack snacks and easy meal ideas
  • Keep your campsite clean, clear of food and trash, and know the quiet hours

Beginner Camping Tips for Staying Warm

Below are some tips we have learned along the way to stay warm while camping if it gets cold. Knowing how to get warm is soooo important because being cold just sucks

The information below includes great tent camping tips to know as beginners.

  • Warm your sleeping bag by filling a Nalgene bottle with hot water – one of the best camping tips ever!
  • Wear layers
  • Sleep with socks on
  • Put the rain fly on
  • Use a sleeping bag rated for cooler temperatures
  • Down layers are warm, comfortable, and just plain awesome!

Beginner Tent Camping Tips for Staying Cool

No one likes being too hot! Below are tips to stay cool while camping.

  • Leave the rain fly off for air circulation
  • Wear light wicking clothes
  • Have a light sleeping bag or silk sack
  • Bring a battery-powered portable fan

Quick Note on Camp Safety

Consider weather while preparing for your trip. Check the weather before you go on your first camping trip adventure. Be aware of your environment and any potential plants, animals, or bugs to avoid.

Let someone close to you know where you are going and when you plan on returning.

Be sure to practice LeaveNoTrace while camping and adventuring outdoors.

Ready to Go Camping?

Now you are equipped with all the basic tent camping gear essentials you should have, personal items to bring along, how to practice good hygiene, what to eat during a camping trip, how to find camping near you, along with tent camping tips and tricks!

We hope this guide to camping helps you plan memorable trips for years to come.

Happy Camping!

Ashlee & Pablo


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Embarking on camping is an exciting adventure. Check out our other articles on camping:

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About The Author

Ashlee Fechino

I’m a travel and outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness through an outdoorsy lifestyle. I want to help people live their best life by sharing free adventure guides. The USA has been my backyard most of my life, and it’s the place where you’ll find most of our escapades! I’m married to an expat Argentine, chihuahua Mom, and am passionate about the environment. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, hiking, and SUP’ing!

17 COMMENTS

  1. Cristina Sala | 12th Feb 21

    Ashlee me quedo encantada con todo el informe que das sobre campamento Es una informacion muy completa . Indudablemente vos y Pablo lo deben haber hecho en varias oportunidades.
    Te felicito por expresar tan detalladamente todo lo elemental y necesario. Abrazo a lo dos

    • Ashlee Fechino | 13th Feb 21

      ¡Hola Cristina! Muchas gracias por el dulce y solidario mensaje. ¡Nos encanta acampar! Gracias por leer. ¡Te extrañamos!

  2. Josy A | 13th Feb 21

    Great post! I think car camping is a great way to get started as you can store anything you don’t need in your car (including food and things like toothpaste) that way you don’t have to worry about rodents/bears. 🙂

    We started camping last year and now we know what we’re doing, we’ve started to try hiking in and camping in the wilderness too. It is soooo cool when you wake up in the middle of nowhere (although last time I was so worried about cougars and grizzly bears when I went to pee in the night!!)

    • Ashlee Fechino | 13th Feb 21

      Hi Josy! Thanks for reading. Car camping is totally the way to go when beginning. Exactly, less to worry about. Awesome, you started camping in the Canadian woods! I would be worried about grizzlies too. Haha. Have fun!!

  3. Hannah | 13th Feb 21

    I definitely needed these tips! I’ve only ever camped in a tent twice and both times I’ve been hugely under-prepared! No matter how much I pack and how many layers I wear I just cannot get warm! I think I’m more cut out for glamping than camping, but next time I do go out in a tent I’m going to come back to these tips…thanks for the great guide!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 13th Feb 21

      Hi Hannah! Haha, on glamping. That is still SUPER FUN! I bet there are super cool places to go glamping in Europe! Thanks for reading.

  4. Bianca Montalvo | 13th Feb 21

    Love camping! Hopefully in the spring I’ll be able to hit the trails again. Lovely post!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 14th Feb 21

      Hi Bianca! Thanks for reading. Yes, looking forward to spring camping and hiking as well! Enjoy 🙂

  5. Emma | 13th Feb 21

    I’m an avid hiker, but relatively new to camping. It’s not my favorite thing but I’ve done some multi day hikes that require camping so I’m getting used to it. My last camping trip was the end of September and I definitely could have used some of your tips for staying warmer

    • Ashlee Fechino | 14th Feb 21

      Hi Emma – I hope this post helps you stay warm camping on your next tent camping adventure!

  6. Adriana | 13th Feb 21

    Wow, this is super informative! I have a friend who just went solo car camping on her her this past summer, and I bet she could use this for the upcoming summer. I will definitely be saving and sharing this with friends who love camping. Very well written, too!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 14th Feb 21

      Hi Adriana – thanks for reading and for sharing our tent camping for beginners post with your friend! 🙂 Happy camping!

  7. Krista | 14th Feb 21

    I have never actually been tent camping so this post will really come in handy – I had no idea about most of this!

    • Ashlee Fechino | 14th Feb 21

      Hi Krista – love your feedback! Good luck during your next camping adventure. We hope our article on tent camping for beginners helps! 🙂

  8. Sophie | 14th Feb 21

    I love this post, it’s so helpful and even as a seasoned camper had some useful tips I’d not thought of. One of my favourites is using a bottle with hot water. I learned about this one when hiking Everest… not only does it keep you warm but also stops you having frozen water in the morning!!

  9. Burt | 14th Feb 21

    THANKS for writing this, Ashlee !! We, as kids, used to tent camp with our parents all over California.
    There are some tips here I never thought of.
    HAPPY Valentine’s Day to you & Pablo also…

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