The biggest challenge of camping - besides braving unpredictable weather - is remembering all the essentials.
Our Beginners’ Guide to Camping
So, here’s our foolproof camping guide for beginners.
Our checklist on camping for beginners in the UK
Camping is a wonderful opportunity to get away from modern stressors and share quality time with family and friends. But if you’re new to camping, it’s important to make sure you have all the beginner camping gear you need so you don’t run into any problems once you’ve arrive.
Things like toothpaste, shaving cream, moisturiser and other daily items can easily slip to the back of our minds when we're so busy focusing on the big stuff like packing the tent and suitcases stocked with blankets and warm clothes.
So, if you’re new to camping, here’s our camping essentials list for beginners:
Camping equipment - the essentials:
Bring plenty of loo roll, tooth brushes, tooth paste, soap, shampoo, conditioner and any other bathroom essentials you can think of. Avoid packing these items at the last minute – because you’re much more likely to forget something when you’re in a hurry. Instead, make a list in advance so you can pack everything you need before you set off.
Make sure you know how long it will take to get to the nearest supermarket for groceries. It’s a good idea to stock up on water and non-perishable foods so you have enough to last few at least a couple of days (to save you having to make regular trips to the supermarket).
However, depending on what type of camping equipment you have (i.e the size of your fridge, storage space), you may not be able to store several days’ worth of food and drink, especially if you’re planning on chilling alcoholic beverages.
Don’t forget cooking utensils like pots, pans, wooden spoons, colanders chopping boards and anything else than you normally use. Consider buying some reusable camping cutlery, plates, bowls, and shatterproof glasses and mugs (though it’s best to keep any high-quality, expensive items at home).
Make a list of all the sleeping items you’ll need – i.e. pillows, duvets, linen, ear plugs, eye masks and pyjamas. Battery- or solar-powered camping lamps or lanterns can really come in handy after dark when you want to have a midnight snack or read a book.
First aid kit
This should include the following: bandages, plasters of different sizes, safety pins, tweezers, scissors, a skin rash cream such as a hydrocortisone, painkillers such as paracetamol, antihistamine creams, a thermometer, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, sterile gauze dressings, sterile eye dressings, disposable sterile gloves, sticky tape, antiseptic cream and eye wash.
Check the weather forecast
Even if it’s sunny at home, the weather might be completely different at your camping destination. Therefore, check the regional weather forecast to make sure you have all the right clothing, blankets and waterproof items. Even if the country is experiencing a heatwave, it could still get quite chilly at night if you’re camping in a rural, exposed valley.
On clear nights, the ground can also be several degrees colder than the air, so consider a raised camping bed and cover the ground with blankets and/or mats to insulate your tent. However, keep the tent's vents open to ventilate the area, otherwise your breath will create condensation - which can make you feel colder.
What kind of tent will you need?
Are you camping solo, as a couple or as a family with children?
Make sure there’s enough space for everyone to stretch their legs and sleep comfortably. Check the Man count (the number of people the tent can hold) and figure out how much living space you want. It’s better to opt for a larger tent if the weather is likely to be unpredictable, as you’ll need to spend some time inside if it’s raining heavily.
Bear in mind that if you choose a tent that has a larger capacity than the number of people that will be camping, this will give you more room to store your luggage, ice boxes and any other beginner camping gear you may need..
What kind of camping atmosphere do you want?
Perhaps you’d prefer a traditional camping environment with the bear minimum – i.e no wi-fi!
Would you prefer ‘glamping’?
However, maybe you just can’t live without modern conveniences – in which case you might want to consider a ‘glamping’ site where you can enjoy hut-style accommodation with more luxurious facilities like real beds and wood-burning cookers (frontier stoves). If you’ve never been camping, you may find glamping an easier transition, especially if you’re used to staying in hotels.
Like staying in a tent, glamping still gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and feel the earth - while enjoying a little more comfort and a little less DIY!
On the other hand, traditional, no-frills camping is often a lot cheaper - and the absence of modern luxuries could make it easier for you to detach yourself from the modern world.
Last - but not least - do you know how to pitch a tent?
If you have a garden, do a trial set up so you can learn how to set up your tent. Learn how to fold it away and ensure you have all the beginner camping gear you need.
(If you’re only planning a camping trip for a maximum of 2 people, you could consider a small pop-up tent, which will set up automatically once you unpack it).