If you are looking for all of the essentials for tent camping for beginners, we have you covered. We think that tent camping is one of the best adventures you can have. Tent camping can be intimidating for some, but it is the most basic form of camping as it is a minimalist form of camping activity.
Whether you want to glamp it up, or just keep it basic, we have your starter list for tent camping for beginners. It’s also a very budget-friendly vacation idea.
First Time Camping?
Camping is one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences out there. Whether you’re a die-hard camper or a novice, there are many tips and tricks that can make your camping trip even better. From setting up camp to packing the right camping gear, the first camping trip can be a memorable experience or an adventure as we would say!
Tent Camping Tips
Choose the Right Location
The first step in planning any camping adventure is choosing the right location. When picking a spot, research what types of activities and amenities are available in each area and make sure it suits your needs. Also, check if there are specific regulations or restrictions for each campsite prior to booking–some may require reservations while others are first-come-first-serve.
Hipcamp is a Great Resource
A great resource for finding camping locations to fit your needs is Hipcamp. You can search for a National Park, a private campground, or even primitive options.
An Experience to Fit Your Needs
Be sure to choose a location that has things that are important to you. For example, if you enjoy hiking, choose an area that is close to hiking trails. If you enjoy water activities, you may want to choose camping on a lake. When we didn’t live by the ocean, we would often take road trips to the beach and camp on the beach.
Watch out for sand, though. Yikes! It gets in every crevice!
You may just want to choose a location that is quiet with a calming view. In that case, car camping with a one- two person tent is all you need.
Tent Camping for Beginners Packing List
Once you have chosen your destination, it’s time to create an essentials list for your tent camping adventure. We have all you need to make sure you are fully prepared for all that is necessary for the most enjoyable trip.
This is The Essentials Checklist for Tent Camping for Beginners (and everyone else):
- Tent poles and stakes- We have the Ozark Trail 8-person tent. Sure, there are only two of us and a pup, but we like to have plenty of room for stretching out. It’s our preference and at the price point, why not?!
- Sleeping bags- because we are not camping under 40 degrees, and in the Alaskan wilderness, these sleeping bags are great for us and super affordable.
- Sleeping pads– trust! Sleeping bags seem like they will be nice and cushy until you realize how hard the ground is.
- Glamping? Get yourself an inflatable bed. This makes for an amazing camping experience!
- A lantern- we use this one. It comes in handy for nighttime inside the tent lighting, or when you need to venture for a potty break in the dark.
- Cookware- our Coleman camping stove has been around for a while and it is a must! We purchased ours the year we got married- 2005! We highly recommend it!
- Don’t forget utensils and cookware. Depending on what you will be eating, you will need to pack accordingly. You will want something that is easy to clean, transportable, and small.
- Flashlights are nice, but since you have the lantern, consider a headlamp so you can remain hands-free while you are setting up camp- especially if you arrive at night.
- Toiletries- biodegradable soap- we love Sierra Dawn because it has a natural built-in insect deterrent, toilet paper, and toothpaste are all necessary. If you are camping at a location that has bathhouses, don’t count on the fact that they will always have toilet paper. Look out for yourself. Speaking from experience.
- Don’t forget about basic items such as insect repellent, sunscreen, pocket knife, and hatchet.
- Twine- it comes in handy for things such as making a clothesline, tying things closed, and just other random things.
- First aid kit for you and your pet (especially Benadryl)
- Many people don’t forget their food or their cooler, but when they have leftovers, they forget storage containers. Don’t waste the food you spent time cooking at camp. Bring food storage.
- Most importantly—bring plenty of water! You can always boil water, but it’s nice to have some extra on hand in case you don’t have access to any.
Don’t be afraid to bring along some non-essentials as well such as books, or your favorite blanket. Items such as these make the space feel more like home. If you want a more upbeat vibe, consider bringing a waterproof Bluetooth speaker for listening to music when relaxing at camp.
Set Up Camp
Once you’ve arrived at your campsite with all of your tent camping essentials for beginners, it’s time to set up camp.
- Start by selecting an appropriate spot that allows enough space between other groups while still providing privacy for passersby.
- Be sure to clear the area. There is nothing worse than setting your tent up in an area full of red ants, or a rocky area that is not comfortable. A tarp to lie down on the ground first, then your tent always comes in handy.
- Set up your tent. We recommend testing this out in broad daylight, at home, prior to doing it the first time at camp. Also, save your instructions. Tent camping for beginners can be exciting, and throwing out your instructions is not the best idea. Even as novice campers, we keep our instructions in our tent bag, just in case.
- We also keep a mini-handheld broom in our camping gear to just sweep away sand or debris, inside the tent.
Respect Mother Nature
Make sure you clear away any debris before pitching your tent–this helps protect Mother Nature from any potential damage or disruption.
Leave the area cleaner than before you arrived. Pick up all trash. Do not ever leave trash or food items out. It attracts animals and you don’t want any of that while you are sleeping. Put it in a bear-proof safe, or in the trunk of your car until you can get it to a safe trash receptacle.
Speaking of animals, be mindful of wildlife at all times. Do not feed them or leave food out overnight as this can be harmful to their health.
Bonus for Beach Camping + Beach Days
If you are beach camping or spending some time on the beach, we wanted to make sure that we plug one of the best inventions ever made— the Shibumi Shade. If you have ever fought with a beach umbrella, you will thank us for this rec!
Invented by three UNC students (proud they are from NC, but not that they are UNC students-Duke fans here!), if you are on any NC beach in the summer, all you see is a sea of Shibumi Shades. It is worth the investment!
Tent Camping for Beginners is a Wonderful Adventure
No matter how experienced you are with outdoor activities, preparing for a camping trip can seem daunting at first glance—but it doesn’t have to be. By following this tent camping beginner’s guide, you’ll be well on your way toward having an enjoyable outdoor experience that will stay with you long after the trip has ended.
We hope we’ve given you all the essential information needed for an unforgettable outdoor adventure. Tent camping for beginners is an experience like none other. You won’t forget it!
So gather your gear, pick out the perfect spot, set up camp — then get out there and explore Mother Nature’s wonders! Happy trails! Be sure to let us know how your adventure went, and when you are planning your next tent camping trip!
Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs
It really depends on where you are going. We have tent camped in every season, but we do not recommend going when the temps will be below 40 degrees. It just isn’t conducive to an enjoyable experience for sleeping. Even if you have a sleeping bag that is meant to keep you warm, it’s just no fun.
Do your research. We have never been fearful of animals. It’s people we are fearful of. If the area has reviews that are questionable, don’t do it. Otherwise, if you take the precautions that we mention in this checklist, regarding your food and trash, it is totally safe. If you are going camping in the wilderness where bears may be, take bear spray.
Yes! There are one-man tents for a reason. We have had to set up camp in the rain before, and one of us has had to stay with Betty White, and one (Gerry) set up the tent. As long as you are practiced with your tent, it is definitely doable.