First Time Camping? Start Here!

First Time Camping? Start Here!

Justin G2/ 9/21

by Justin Gray


If you've never been car camping, you may not know what you need or what to bring. I have a few tips to make your first adventure completely enjoyable!

  1. Know your where you're going 

  2. Check the weather

  3. Pack the right gear

  4. Over-prepare


Know your location

Where are you going camping? Is it the desert, mountains, near a lake, flat meadow lands? This all makes a difference in what you'll bring. For example, in a desert you'd need to bring more water. A hammock in this environment is pretty useless since there aren't many trees. If you're near water, there may be a higher amount of insects including mosquitos. Just think about the location and what is around it.


Check the weather

Weather is the single most important in preparing for any trip. If it's going to be exceptionally cold or hot, you'll have to make additional preparations for that climate. Is it going to be windy, raining, snowing, or is it going to be sunny and 70°F the whole time? Make sure you pack for the weather and the possibility of that weather changing. I always have a NOAA weather radio with me when I travel so that I am kept up-to-date on the conditions.


Pack the right gear

Clothing - This part is fairly simple as it applies to your normal daily wardrobe as it does to camping. If it's going to be hot, you'll want to wear light clothes and bring sunscreen, right? Just be sure that you plan to bring at least one extra set of clothes and make sure that they're appropriate for the climate (don't bring dress shoes or heels!). If you're planning a cold weather trip, see my blog here: "How to camp warm in the winter".


Gear - No matter where you're camping at, you'll need some essential gear. Here's a short list of what you'll need to bring.

Camp Sleeping Kit
  • Tent & Tarp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad/mat
  • Pillow
Camp Comfort Items
  • Camping chair (table optional)
  • Ground Blanket
  • Games
  • Sunshade
  • Propane Heater
  • Hammock
  • NOAA Weather Radio
Camp Kitchen & Cooking
  • Plate, Cup, Eating Utensils, Bowls
  • Stove & Fuel
  • Knife(s) + Cutting Board
  • Pots, Pans, Griddle, Frying Pan
  • Cooler & Ice
  • Food & Condiments
  • Camp Soap, Sponge, Dish-wash basin (to wash dishes)
  • Coffee Maker & Coffee
  • Bulk Water Container (5+ Gallons)
  • Bottle/Can opener 
  • Dish Towel (or paper towels)
  • Trash Bags/Trash can
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Ziploc Bags
Camp Accessories
  • Duct Tape
  • Camping Speaker (for tunes)
  • Phone (Camera)
  • Rechargeable battery bank
  • Charging Cables
  • Axe or Hatchet
  • Rope
  • Broom & Dust Pan
Personal Hygiene
  • Toilet & biodegradable toilet bags (if no facilities exist)
  • Camp Shovel (to bury waste)
  • Toilet Paper, Baby wipes
  • Toiletries (sunscreen, deodorant, toothbrush + toothpaste, lip balm, hairbrush, mirror, cleaning wipes, Dental Floss, Sewing Kit)
  • Medications
  • Towel
  • Insect Repellant
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Feminine Hygiene products
  • First Aid Kit
Fire Making Kit
  • Matches, Lighter, Firewood + Fire Permit (where applicable)
  • 'Smores stuff! (Graham Crackers, Chocolate, Marshmallows, Roasting Sticks)
  • Shovel
  • Fire Extinguisher!
  • Extra Water Container (to put out fire)
Personal Items
  • Clothing + Hat
  • Sleeping Clothes
  • Jackets
  • Gloves
  • Water Bottle
  • Watch
  • Flashlights
  • Money
  • Paperwork (campsite reservations, maps, Campfire permit, etc.)


There is no thing as being "too prepared"; make sure that you are prepared for all possible contingencies... including weather changes, lost gear, accidentally getting wet, and injuries.

Final Thoughts

By no means is this an exhaustive list; rather it will get you started, the right way, heading towards your next adventure in the great outdoors. I recommend seeking advice from people in the area that you'll be camping to see what they recommend bringing into the area.
There's no need to bring everything including the kitchen sink, rather spend some time thinking and planning ahead to ensure your adventure is filled with fun memories!


Here are some other helpful sites that can lead you in the right direction:


What is my list missing? Let me know in the comments below!


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