Choosing the right camping gear can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a complete newb.
With so many things you need to have and know, it can be hard to understand what to prioritize, what to bring along, and what to leave behind.
For you hoarders, now is a great time to try and break the habit if you want to learn how to choose the right camping gear.
However, having the right gear can make all the difference in your camping experience, from staying comfortable to staying safe.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to choose the right camping gear for your needs.
First, we’ll cover the basics of camping gear, including the essential items you’ll need for any camping trip.
From there, we’ll dive into more specific gear categories, such as tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment.
We’ll provide tips on what to look for when shopping for each item, as well as recommendations for specific products that we’ve tested and loved.
By the end of this guide, you’ll have the best understanding of what to consider when choosing camping gear and be well-equipped to make informed purchasing decisions.
If you’re new to camping, it’s important to understand the basics before you start shopping for gear.
I know things look nice and smooth on TV, but remember that you’re dealing with the outdoors here.
There are many things you need to know and have and it doesn’t make things easy.
Not to mention there are a kazillion brands out there, which can make the buying process that much more complicated.
Before you go pulling out your hair, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
Location and Climate
Before you start thinking about what to bring, think about where you’ll be camping and what mother nature has in store.
This will help you know and understand what kind of gear you’ll need, as you don’t want to pack too much cold-weather gear when you most likely won’t need it.
For example, if you’re camping in a hot, dry climate, you’ll want to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
If you’re camping in a colder climate, you’ll need warm clothing and a good sleeping bag.
Your shelter is one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll need unless you feel like slapping mosquitos are wrestling with a bear.
There are several options to choose from, like tents, hammocks, and even RVs.
Consider how big your group is, what the weather is like, and how much mula you have in your bank account when choosing a shelter as some of the prices might scare your wallet.
A good night’s sleep is essential for life and it’s no different when it comes to camping.
Make sure you have a comfortable sleeping bag and a sleeping pad or air mattress to insulate you from the ground.
If you’re camping in cold weather, consider a sleeping bag that will help in that department.
Cooking is something we all look forward to when camping, but you’ll need to know how to choose the right camping gear to do it safely.
You’ll need a stove or fire pit, some cooking utensils, and a cooler to keep your food fresh.
And, most especially, don’t forget to bring plenty of water for cooking and cleaning up.
Clothing and Footwear
It’s important to have the right attire for the weather and the activities you’ll be doing while camping.
Bring clothing that you can easily add or remove as the temperature changes.
If you know a lot about feet, you’ll know that some good footwear is also essential, especially if you’ll be doing any hiking or walking on uneven terrain.
By understanding these basics, you’ll be better prepared and know how to choose the right camping gear for you and your group’s needs.
Deciding Your Camping Style
Like other things in life, camping has its styles.
Each style has its own unique features, and the right style for you depends on your preferences and needs.
We are all different and do things differently.
With camping, it all depends on your style and you need to understand which category you fall under.
Here are the three most popular camping styles:
Backpacking is a popular camping style for those who love to hike and act like Dora the Explorer.
This specific style of camper involves carrying all your gear on your back and setting up camp in remote locations.
If you want to experience the great outdoors in a more intimate way, backpacking is the way to go.
To choose the right backpacking gear, you need to consider the weight, durability, and size of each item.
Here are some backpacking essentials:
- Quality camping tent
- Proper sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Portable stove
- Water filter
And if you’re new to backpacking, this guide can help you get started.
Hydration is important, so don’t forget to drink some water so you can stay cool while you’re backpacking.
Car camping is a more comfortable and convenient camping style.
This is great if you have young children that aren’t so used to the outdoors just yet.
This style involves driving to a campsite and setting up camp near your vehicle.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors without sacrificing comfort, car camping is the way to go.
To choose the right car camping gear, you need to consider the size, weight, and how easy it will be to set things up.
Here are some essential car camping things:
- Tent with lots of space
- Sleeping bag
- Air mattress
- Portable grill
Glamping is a luxurious camping style that you can’t help but think of the Kardashians.
It combines the comforts of home with the beauty of nature.
This style involves staying in a fully-equipped tent or cabin that has all the amenities you need.
If you want to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury, glamping is the way to go.
To choose the right glamping gear, you need to consider the quality, comfort, and style of each item.
Here are some essential glamping gear items:
- Fancy tent or cabin
- Bed fit for a princess
- Kitchenette with a stove and sink
- Mini fridge
No matter which camping style you choose, make sure to choose the right camping gear that suits your needs and preferences.
Choosing the Right Camping Tent
A tent is one of the most important things to consider way before you go on your camping trip.
It will be your home away from home, so it’s important to choose the right one for you and your group.
What works for one group will not always work best for another.
Consider these factors when choosing the right tent for your needs.
Size and Capacity
The first thing to consider when choosing a tent is how big and how many people it can hold.
You want to make sure that the tent is big enough to comfortably fit everyone who will be sleeping in it.
Keep in mind that tents are usually rated by the number of people they can sleep, but this can be a little misleading.
Just like how most 7-seater cars have the back row that can only fit one big dude.
So if it says a tent can fit four people, that most likely means that it can only comfortably fit two adults and two children.
This sounds like a no-brainer but you’ll be surprised at how many people get this wrong.
When choosing a camping tent, make sure that it can withstand the elements.
If you’re camping in an unpredictable area, you don’t want to panic when mother nature decides to throw some rain or snow on you.
You want a tent that is made from high-quality materials and has a waterproof or water-resistant coating.
You may also want to consider a tent with a rainfly, which is an extra layer of protection that goes over the top of the tent.
Ease of Setup
If you’re completely new to camping, you want to get a tent that is easy to setup.
You don’t want to spend hours trying to set up your tent and you want to make sure it’s done right.
Look for a tent that is easy to set up and take down.
Some tents come with color-coded poles or clips that make setup a breeze.
You may also want to consider a tent with a freestanding design, which means it doesn’t require stakes to stand up.
That’s golden if you aren’t the outdoorsy type.
By considering these factors, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right tent for your camping trip.
Remember to also consider your budget and any additional features you may want, such as extra storage pockets or a built-in vestibule.
Selecting a Sleeping Bag
A sleeping bag is one of the most important items you’ll need when you go camping.
Choose the wrong one and you can bet that you won’t have the best camping experience.
Get the best of the best and you might get more sleep than you do at home.
It’s very much important to choose the right sleeping bag, so consider these things when choosing yours.
When choosing a sleeping bag, the temperature rating is what you should pay attention to most.
This will tell you the lowest temperature that the sleeping bag will keep you warm
If you plan on camping in a colder environment, you know that a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating is a must.
Also keep in mind that the temperature ratings are not the same with all brands.
Read the manufacturer’s specs carefully and keep in mind that your own comfort level may differ from the rating that is on the sleeping bag.
Shape and Size
Like everything else in life, sleeping bags come in different shapes and sizes.
The most common shapes are rectangular, mummy and semi-rectangular.
Mummy bags are most preferred as they keep you warmer, as rectangular bags are much better if you want/have the luxury of moving around more.
Sizing is very straightforward as you want to get the right sleeping bag for your size.
If the bag is too small, I think you know what kind of problems you can expect.
Get one that is too big and you might struggle with trying to stay warm.
Sleeping bags are made from different materials and each of them are used for different environments.
If you want something lighter and easier to compress, down insulation is what you want to get.
These bags do lose its insulation when wet, so weigh your options and choose wisely.
Synthetic insulated sleeping bags are the most affordable and can retain insulation when wet, which is why they are better for more wetter climates.
The other shell is made from either nylon, which is more durable, and polyester, which is more breathable.
Picking the Right Backpack
You need a backpack for almost everything we do.
I use it to work, when I’m going to my soccer game, and the obvious, when I go backpacking.
With camping, you need to ensure you pick the right one.
It’s what will carry most of the load and will be carried a lot of the time.
Here are several things to consider when picking a backpack for your camping needs.
Depending on how long you plan on camping will help you decide how much space you need in your backpack.
If you are a beginner, a backpack that can hold around 50 liters should suffice for a weekend get away.
For longer camping trips, you’ll want something that can hold more than 60 liters.
Fit and Comfort
Call me a princess, but comfort is important for camping and every other backpacking adventure.
You want a backpack that fits well, adjusts to your frame, and is good on your body, all while taking the weight off your shoulders.
It’s always best to try on a backpack so you can mess with the straps and get a better feeling for a much better fit.
I’m not a fan of cheap products and I’ve made the mistake of getting cheap backpacks.
It’s not worth it for many reasons.
One, it most likely won’t be comfortable and will make life a lot more complicated.
Two, it won’t last.
You get what you pay for can’t be any more truer when it comes to backpacks, so don’t sacrifice a few bucks for quality.
Lastly, you don’t want to lose anything all because you decided to take the cheap route.
Once zippers start popping open and things start falling out, you will wish that you had gotten a much better bag.
Remember, choosing the right backpack is an important part of your camping gear selection so don’t sacrifice price for quality.
Do your research, find some solid reviews, and you’ll find the right backpack for your camping needs.
Cooking Equipment Essentials
Cooking in the great outdoors is amazing.
However, it’s not for everyone.
It can be enjoyable or it can turn into a horrible experience.
At the very least, you need to know what you need and consider for your next camping trip.
Portable stoves are great for a lot of things and camping is one of them.
You can use them to survive a typhoon and anywhere that doesn’t allow the convenience of electricity.
In this case, it’s camping.
I say you need it, but you can always resort to cooking over an actual fire.
If you do decide to go the portable stove route, you should know that they do come with different options.
- Butane (most common)
Butane stoves are more common for daily use, while propane is more common with camping.
Multi-fuel stoves are most versatile but not the most wallet-friendly.
When it comes to cookware, you want something that is lightweight, durable, and easy to clean.
Look for pots and pans made of aluminum or titanium, as they are both lightweight and durable.
Non-stick coatings can make clean-up easier, but they can be prone to scratching and peeling.
Cast iron is also a good option, but it can be heavy and difficult to clean.
You don’t need to bring your entire kitchen with you on your camping trip, but you will need a few essential utensils.
A good set of utensils should include a spatula, spoon, and fork.
Look for utensils made of lightweight materials, such as plastic or titanium.
A knife is also essential for cutting food and preparing meals, so consider a nice camping knife for future outings.
Overall, choosing the right cooking equipment can make all the difference in your camping experience.
With the right stove, cookware, and utensils, you’ll be able to cook up delicious meals in the great outdoors.
Safety First Must-Haves
Safety is a must, especially when camping.
I mean, what fun can you have if someone gets hurt?
Safety first everyone, and here are some things you should consider.
First Aid Kit
First aid kits are a must regardless of whether you are camping or not, but it’s definitely something you should have when conducting outdoor activities.
Accidents happen and you can be prepared and handle the situation with ease, or not, and end your camping trip early.
At the very least, have some bandages, alcohol wipes, gauze, antibiotics, and maybe some pain relievers.
If you or anyone on your camping trip has any prescriptions, you might want to take them along too.
Map and Compass
Even if you have your cellphone or camping in a well-marked area, it’s always a good idea to bring a map and compass with you.
They can help you navigate if you get lost or need to find your way back to camp.
Make sure you know how to use them before you head out on your trip, so familiarize yourself before heading out.
Headlamp or Flashlight
At the very least, you should have a flashlight.
I am a huge fan of headlamps though, as being able to not hold a light in your hand all while seeing everything is just amazing to me.
I use it for a lot of things in my life and it all started when I was deployed overseas.
For camping’s sake, you want to have some kind of light on you, along with some extra batteries or portable charger.
Remember, safety should always be a top priority when camping.
Take these things along with you and you will be prepared for the worst..
Clothing and Footwear
I know this might sound like common sense, but I figured that not everyone will know what to wear if this was their first camping trip.
Here are some basic things to know, if you are wondering what the right camping attire should look like.
It is very important to dress appropriately for different weather conditions.
The layering technique is a great way to ensure that you stay comfortable throughout the day and night.
This involves wearing multiple layers of clothing that can be added or removed as needed.
The first layer should be a moisture-wicking base layer that will keep sweat away from your skin and keep you dry.
The middle layer should be an insulating layer that will keep you warm.
The final layer should be a waterproof and windproof layer that will protect you from the elements.
Waterproof and Windproof Options
When choosing a waterproof and windproof layer, look for materials like Gore-Tex or eVent that are designed to keep you dry and protected from the wind.
These materials are breathable, which means that they allow sweat to escape while keeping water and wind out.
It’s also important to consider the type of closure on your waterproof and windproof layer.
A zippered closure is ideal because it allows you to regulate your body temperature by opening or closing the zipper as needed.
I can not stress enough about how important it is to take care of your feet, especially when you’re camping.
Your choice of footwear can make or break your camping trip, so get what works or pay for it later.
Look for shoes or boots that are waterproof and breathable to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Hiking boots are a great option because they provide support and traction on uneven terrain.
When trying on hiking boots, make sure to wear the socks that you plan on wearing while camping.
This will give you a better idea of how the boots will fit and feel.
It’s also important to break in your hiking boots before your camping trip to avoid blisters and discomfort.
Remember to always pack extra socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout your camping trip.
Don’t think, just do it.
Choose the Right Camping Gear For a Successful Camping Adventure
Now that you know what you need for camping, it’s time to get out there and put your stuff together.
There are many benefits of camping, so enjoy the little time you have out there.
If this is your fist time camping, I hope this guide has helped you understand how to choose the right camping gear.
Of course there’s a lot to learn about camping, but it’s great to see that you’re going to get up and get outside.
There are many benefits of getting outside and I’m sure you’ll have the time of your life.
Remember to hydrate and put some sunblock to prevent sunburn and always protect yourself from the elements.
Safety should always be a priority, so consider that when you’re out on your camping trip.
Besides that, enjoy yourself and forget about the world’s madness while you’re out there.