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Everything you need to know about camping in 2020

Nothing is quite as rejuvenating as a little quality time outside. Breathing in clear, crisp air. Drinking in rich, natural scenery. Maybe even paddle out on a canoe, spot some local wildlife, or throw your fishing line in the water. Yes, the great outdoors was meant to be enjoyed, and what better way to insert yourself than a camping trip?

Camping is a famously restorative pastime, although it does take some planning and preparation. If it’s been a while since you pitched a tent or if you’ve never struck out on your own before, you’ll need some pointers. Take a look at the most vital things to consider when planning a wilderness adventure.

Man camping with tent
Jacob Lund/

What kind of preparation is required?

The best motto when packing for a campout? Always be prepared. As you begin to pack, you’ll want to consider several details. How long do you plan to be away? How many people will be in your group? Will you be staying at a campground with some amenities, or are you really going to rough it? Once you set the scene of your site, you can start to pack your bags.

First, dress for the region you’ll be in. That could mean adding an extra jacket or two or getting a hat to protect you from the sun. Just make sure you include all weather-sensitive attire — rain gear, like ponchos and waterproof shoes, are always a good idea.

Next, make sure to bring some sort of fire starter, as well. Matches, flint, or a lighter will be helpful for cooking and lighting campfires. If you’re worried about light once the sun sets, make sure to throw in a couple of flashlights, too. Also, take plenty of food and water — especially the latter.

Make sure your food and water supply is easy to transport and can last without a fridge or freezer (unless you plan to take a cooler). Of course, you’ll need a tent or some type of transportable shelter. Lastly, always bring a good stock of first aid supplies. This should include a cell phone or radio in case you need to call for help. First aid kits can be found in most big box stores and include the proper bandages and antiseptics in case of injury.

How do I choose a quality camping location?

Do your research beforehand. If you plan on camping at a locale with a public campsite and shared amenities, it is likely you’ll need to reserve a spot. Some national parks or protected properties also require you to obtain a sort of visitor’s license to camp there. You may ask, why go camping if you have to pay? Well, there are perks to a public campground, which usually include toilets instead of porta potties and even shower areas.

If you decide you’d like to try a more remote experience, you still need to check for any local laws or guidelines before setting foot on the land. Ultimately, when going remote, you’ll want to make sure there is a water source nearby, few potential hazards, and availability of radio or cell reception.

Is there additional gear that would be helpful to bring?

Among the essential items for camping are some specific things that will enhance the experience for you. Top of the list is an insulated sleeping bag. You would be surprised how boiling hot a mountainside can be in the day only to deliver freezing temperatures at night. No matter how many layers you sleep in, you’ll be grateful to have a cocoon to help warm you.

Another excellent tool is a Dutch oven or a cast iron frying pan. These are incredibly durable and can be placed on top of coals to cook all kinds of things. You’ll be grateful to have one when you get tired of granola bars and beef jerky!

Also, camping chairs are not just for sporting events. It may sound silly, but having a comfortable place to sit is a luxury when you tire of hiking and exploring the terrain. If you are looking for top-notch brand recommendations and reviews, pop into your local outdoor store and ask about the recent bestsellers.

Enjoy your time away

Couple sitting in chairs looking at a lake

There is certainly magic in connecting with Mother Nature. Some people enjoy the peace and quiet, while others are looking for a wild experience. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, just remember that camping doesn’t have to be intimidating. Prepare in advance, and pack for the area you’ll be in. Get acquainted with the rules and regulations of the land or park you plan to visit. If you’re short on gear, you can look online or at a local shop to get the latest referral for any must-have items. And don’t forget thrift stores when shopping for camping equipment.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun, and allow yourself time to connect with nature in a deeper way.

Also, if you want to take your dog on camping trips, be sure to check our guide on how to camp with a dog.

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