top of page
  • Writer's pictureKate

Camping for Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide to Getting Started

Updated: 17 hours ago


Camping at Fisherground Campsite - The Lake District
Camping at Fisherground Campsite - The Lake District

Embarking on your first camping adventure can evoke a mix of excitement and apprehension. As beginners in the sublime world of camping, it's essential to arm ourselves with the proper knowledge and tools to transform this initial foray into a series of enjoyable and memorable experiences. That's where the essence of camping for beginners lies—not just in embracing the great outdoors but in doing so with confidence and a sense of preparedness. It's about understanding that the right approach and equipment can significantly enhance our connection with nature and our enjoyment of the experience. Establishing a solid foundation is crucial, and knowing the camping essentials plays a pivotal role in this journey.


In this guide, we'll walk you through the main pillars of planning your first camping trip, from selecting the perfect campsite that aligns with your preferences and skill level to breaking down the list of camping essentials you'll need to make the outdoors feel like home. We'll cover the basics of setting up your camp kitchen to ensure you're well-nourished for your adventure, discuss what to wear to stay comfortable and protected regardless of the weather, and provide tips on setting up camp efficiently. Furthermore, safety tips will be integral to our discussion, ensuring that your outdoor explorations are not just enjoyable but also safe. Whether you're a solo adventurer or looking forward to a group escapade, this guide aims to prepare you thoroughly, making sure your inaugural camping experience is nothing short of remarkable.


She's Going Solo may receive commissions for links included in articles to Amazon and other affiliate partners. Recommendations are not given out lightly, and all products recommended have been tried and tested.



The View from the tent At Rydal Campsite
The View from the tent At Rydal Campsite

Choosing the Right Campsite

Choosing a suitable campsite is crucial for ensuring your camping experience is as enjoyable and safe as possible. Here are some essential factors to consider and tips on making reservations that can help guide you through the process.

Factors to Consider

  1. Location: The most important factor when selecting a campsite is the location. Everyone has different preferences for an ideal spot. Fortunately, the UK offers a wide variety of sites nationwide. Popular choices include coastal areas, the countryside, or woodlands. You can search for sites based on your specific criteria. Consider how far you're willing to travel to reach your destination. For a longer holiday, you might be open to a more extended journey. However, for a shorter getaway, it's wise to limit your travel time to a few hours. The site should be easily reachable by road. You want to arrive without any hassle or damage to your car, caravan or motorhome. The campsite should also be spacious enough for your group to set up comfortably. You'll need outdoor space for cooking, relaxing, and children's activities. A well-organised site will help you navigate easily in the dark, reducing the risk of getting lost. A tranquil setting will enhance the quality of your sleep. Take your time choosing an excellent campsite to ensure a pleasurable holiday experience. What I have found since COVID particularly is that there are two types of campsites: the large one that is basically just a field that squeezes people on so that they are on top of each other or the more advisable type of site where they limit the number of people and everyone gets there own amount of space (See post of Belan Bluebell Woods Post here for this type)

  2. Facilities: With over 4,000 official campsites available for UK residents, the options are plentiful. While some sites operate year-round, others are open seasonally. To attract campers and holidaymakers, campsites distinguish themselves by offering various amenities to enhance their appeal. Facilities that are disability-friendly and accessible are crucial. Most larger campsites feature laundries, Wi-Fi, complimentary hot showers, and washrooms. When selecting a campsite, thorough research and cost-benefit analysis are essential to determine which facilities best meet your requirements. Do you really need an electric hook-up? Is a hardstanding pitch necessary? Can you utilise your onboard facilities? What activities are there for the kids? Where is the nearest shop/pub?

  3. Activities: Research shows that approximately 90% of campers venture away from their campsites to participate in other activities. Consequently, your choice of camp should be influenced by your activity checklist. This list will also help determine other aspects such as the location, the amount and type of clothing to pack. Popular holiday activities include walking, fishing, swimming, sightseeing, and cycling. We recommend consulting websites like Love to Visit to find things to do in the area. This platform provides information on activities in the area that others have visited and highly endorse.

Reservation Tips

  1. Booking in Advance: Especially during peak seasons, it's wise to book your campsite in advance to avoid disappointment. Check the campsite's booking policies and whether you can select a specific pitch or if one will be assigned upon arrival.

  2. Check-in Process: Familiarise yourself with the campsite's check-in procedure. This could range from visiting a reception desk to meeting the campsite owner directly. Knowing these details beforehand can make your arrival smoother.


By considering these factors and following these reservation tips, you can enhance your camping experience, ensuring it is both enjoyable and safe. Remember, a suitable campsite can make all the difference in your outdoor adventure.


Essential Beginners Guide to Camping Gear

Embarking on a camping adventure requires not just enthusiasm but also the right equipment. In this section, we'll delve into the essential gear you'll need, focusing on tents, sleeping bags and mats, and lighting—each crucial for a comfortable and safe outdoor experience.

Tents

Choosing the right tent is pivotal for any camping trip. The type of tent you select should cater to the nature of your camping. For beginners, tunnel tents and dome tents are recommended due to their ease of setup and durability. Tents like the Berghaus 500 Nightfall offer ample space and are equipped with features such as an attached porch, which is ideal for more extended stays. Pop-up tents are a perfect choice for those looking for simplicity and quick setup. They unfold and are ready to use in moments, which is particularly useful for festival-goers or short-term campers. Additionally, materials matter; polycotton tents, for instance, are excellent for rainy conditions due to their water-absorbing properties, which also help block UV rays.

Sleeping Bags and Mats

A good night's sleep is crucial in the outdoors, and choosing the right sleeping bag and mat can make all the difference. Sleeping bags are usually categorised by the season they are suited for, with options ranging from lightweight summer bags to more insulated ones for winter. Materials like down provide excellent insulation and are compact, whereas synthetic bags are a more affordable and better option for wet conditions.

Sleeping mats not only add a layer of comfort but also insulate you from the cold ground. Options include air-filled mats, self-inflating mats, and foam mats. Self-inflating mats are a blend of comfort and convenience, inflating by themselves when the valve is opened and providing sound insulation. For those looking for the lightest possible option, air mats are ideal. They require manual inflation but offer significant comfort and insulation, especially when equipped with features like the Sea to Summit's Air Sprung Cells.

Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for safety and convenience in the outdoors. LED technology has revolutionised camping lights, offering durable and energy-efficient options. Head torches are invaluable for hands-free operation, allowing you to perform tasks like setting up the tent or cooking at night. Lanterns provide ambient lighting and often come with features like a remote control for ease of use inside the tent. For more intense lighting needs, such as when navigating a trail at night or during emergencies, a strong spotlight is recommended. Each piece of gear plays a vital role in ensuring your camping trip is as enjoyable and safe as possible. Whether you're setting up your tent at dusk, cosying into your sleeping bag after a day's hike, or lighting up the campsite for an evening meal, the right equipment will enhance your outdoor experience.



Tents on a Campsite
Tents on a Campsite

Camp Kitchen Basics

Embarking on a camping trip means embracing the simplicity and joy of cooking outdoors. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway or a longer expedition, having a well-prepared camp kitchen can significantly enhance your experience. Here, we'll dive into the essentials of camp kitchen setup, focusing on the crucial aspects of cooking equipment and meal planning.

Cooking Equipment

A good camp kitchen is all about having the right tools that are both functional and easy to transport. Here are some must-have items:

  1. Stove: Choose a reliable stove that suits your space and cooking needs. A compact two-burner stove is ideal for most camping scenarios. To ensure efficient cooking, it should have a minimum output of 10,000 BTUs per hour.

  2. Cooler: Opt for a hard-shell cooler for extended insulation and protection of your food. This is especially important for trips lasting more than a couple of days.

  3. Cookware: Include a mix of lightweight and collapsible items such as non-stick pans, a cast iron skillet, and a Dutch oven. The Dutch oven is exceptionally versatile, perfect for baking, searing, and sautéeing over any heat source.

  4. Utensils: Pack essentials like a cutting board, knives with protective covers, spatulas, large mixing spoons, and tongs. Remember pot holders and an instant-read thermometer to manage your cooking temperatures effectively.

  5. Lighting: Ensure you have adequate lighting, such as a camp lantern, to facilitate cooking after dark without straining your eyes or struggling in low light.

A pitch at Belan Bluebells Campsite - Powys
A pitch at Belan Bluebells Campsite - Pow

Meal Planning

Planning your meals is crucial for a stress-free camping experience. Here's how to approach it:

  1. Make a Detailed Plan: Before your trip, decide precisely what you'll eat for each meal. This helps you pack only the necessary ingredients and equipment. Consider using a camping food list that allows you to mix and match ingredients to create a variety of meals.

  2. Preparation Before the Trip: Simplify your cooking process by pre-chopping ingredients and pre-cooking certain items at home. This reduces the amount of work you need to do at the campsite.

  3. Choose Simple Recipes: Opt for meals that are easy to prepare and cook. Think of one-pot meals or foods that can be cooked directly over a fire or in foil packets. Remember, simplicity is vital to enjoying your camping culinary experience.

  4. Pack Smart: Include items like pre-made hummus, which serves as a great snack or sandwich spread, and bring along seasonings and spices to enhance the flavour of simple dishes.

By focusing on both the equipment and meal planning aspects of your camp kitchen, you can ensure that every meal is an enjoyable part of your adventure without the hassle of complicated preparations or excessive cleanup. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the natural surroundings with good food and great company.


What to Wear

When preparing for a camping trip, choosing the proper attire is as crucial as selecting the right gear. The clothing you pack should not only suit the climate and weather conditions of your destination but also provide comfort and protection. Let's explore the essential aspects of what to wear for both varying weather conditions and appropriate footwear.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

The key to staying comfortable while camping is adapting your wardrobe to the weather conditions you'll encounter. Here's how to approach packing:

  1. Hot Weather: For camping trips in warmer months, like near a lake in July, opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking shirts or tank tops made from high-tech polyester fabrics. These materials pull sweat away from your body, helping you stay cool. Also, include light-coloured clothing to reflect the sun's rays and a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face.

  2. Cold Weather: Layering is your best strategy for cold-weather camping. Start with a base layer that maintains body warmth and wicks away moisture, add a mid-layer that insulates and retains heat, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Remember accessories like a warm hat, gloves, and a scarf to protect against the chill.

  3. Transition Seasons: For spring and fall camping, when temperatures can vary significantly, layering remains essential. Start with a light base layer, and then add an insulating layer and a lightweight waterproof jacket ready to adapt to changing conditions.

Footwear

Choosing the proper footwear is pivotal for an enjoyable camping experience, providing comfort and protection across various terrains and weather conditions:

  1. General Camping Footwear: Durable, waterproof boots are a must for navigating wet and uneven terrain. They protect your feet from moisture and provide essential traction and support.

  2. Camp Shoes: Comfortable camp shoes are beneficial after a long day of hiking or when you're simply relaxing at the campsite. Options like slip-on sandals or insulated booties offer a break from heavy boots and keep your feet relaxed and aired out.

  3. Specialised Activities: If your camping trip includes specific activities like kayaking or extensive hiking, consider footwear designed for these purposes. Water-resistant or quick-drying shoes are ideal for water activities, while sturdy, supportive hiking boots are necessary for trails.


By selecting the proper clothing and footwear, you ensure that your camping experience is not only enjoyable but also safe from environmental elements. Remember, the right choices in what to wear can significantly enhance your comfort and enjoyment outdoors.


Setting Up Camp

When we embark on a camping trip, setting up camp efficiently and safely is crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. This section will guide you through the essential steps of pitching your tent and arranging your campsite effectively.


Pitching Your Tent

  1. Select the Right Tent: Make sure you choose a tent that provides enough space not just for sleeping but also for storing your gear and moving around comfortably. For a family of four, a larger tent with a porch or extra covered area is ideal to accommodate everyone and their belongings. Ideally, you want to be able to stand up in it and have space for a table and chairs, just in case it rains.

  2. Practice Beforehand: It's wise to practice setting up your tent in your back garden. This not only helps ensure that all equipment is present and in good condition but also makes you familiar with the setup process, reducing stress when you arrive at the campsite.

  3. Find a Level Spot: Look for flat, level ground free of debris such as rocks and branches. Clear the area if necessary to avoid damage to the tent floor and ensure your comfort while sleeping.

  4. Lay the Footprint: Start by laying down a footprint or tarp to protect the bottom of your tent from moisture and abrasions.

  5. Assemble the Tent: Unroll the tent on top of the footprint, aligning the corners. Assemble the poles and attach them to the tent body, ensuring that each connection is secure.

  6. Secure the Tent: Once the tent structure is up, use pegs to anchor it firmly to the ground. Drive stakes at a 45-degree angle away from the tent to maximise wind resistance.

  7. Adjust for Weather: Attach and tighten the rain fly, ensuring it covers the tent adequately for protection against rain and wind. Adjust the guy lines to stabilise the tent and prevent flapping in the breeze.


Arranging Your Campsite

  1. Tent Placement: Arrange your tent to maximise space and consider factors like wind direction and sun exposure. Ensure it's at a safe distance from the campfire and cooking area to avoid hazards.

  2. Campfire Safety: Designate a specific area for your campfire that is well away from tents and flammable materials. Follow all local regulations regarding campfires, and never leave the fire unattended.

  3. Organise Your Space: Use collapsible furniture and multi-purpose items to make the most of the available space. Keep your campsite tidy by storing gear in designated areas and using containers to protect from moisture and keep wildlife away.

  4. Kitchen Setup: Organise your camp kitchen using a portable table for meal preparation and storage. Keep food in sealed containers and use eco-friendly utensils to minimise waste.

  5. Lighting and Essentials: Place essential items like flashlights, bug repellent, and rain gear in easily accessible spots. Consider the overall layout of your campsite for efficient movement and convenience during your stay.


By following these detailed steps for pitching your tent and arranging your campsite, you can create a safe and welcoming base for your outdoor adventures. Remember, a well-set-up camp not only adds to the comfort but also enhances the safety of your camping experience.


Tents at Rydal Campsite
Tents at Rydal Campsite - The Lake District

Safety Tips

Prioritising safety is essential when embarking on a camping adventure, especially concerning fire management and wildlife interactions. By adhering to specific precautions, we can ensure a secure and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors.


Fire Safety

  1. Understand the Rules: Always check if your campsite allows campfires. If allowed, use designated fire pits or dig a hole in a safe area away from flammable materials.

  2. Build Safely: Keep your campfire small and manageable. Never use flammable liquids like gasoline to start your fire.

  3. Preparation: Always have water and a shovel nearby to manage and extinguish flames if necessary.

  4. Monitor Wind Conditions: Be aware of the direction of the wind to prevent the fire from spreading unexpectedly.

  5. Safety with Children and Pets: Supervise children and pets closely around the fire to avoid accidents.

  6. Proper Cooking Tools: Use long-handled cooking tools to prevent burns.

  7. Avoid Hazardous Materials: Never burn materials like glass, tin, or plastics that can be hazardous.

  8. Vigilance is Key: Never leave your campfire unattended, and ensure it is completely extinguished before leaving or going to sleep.

  9. Extinguishing the Fire: Douse the fire with water, stir the ashes, and apply more water. Ensure the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the site.


By following these detailed safety tips for managing fire risks, we can significantly enhance the safety and enjoyment of our camping trips. Always remember that preparation and awareness are your best tools for a safe outdoor adventure.


Conclusion for Beginners Guide to Camping

Through this comprehensive guide, we have journeyed together through the essential steps to ensure a memorable and proficient entry into the world of camping for beginners. From picking the perfect campsite that matches your preferences and skill levels to equipping yourself with the right gear, and from the basics of setting up your camp kitchen to selecting appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions, the guide aims to arm you with the knowledge to confidently embrace the great outdoors. Emphasising the importance of preparation and safety, we discussed the critical aspects of campfire management and wildlife precautions to ensure your camping adventures are both enjoyable and secure.


As you embark on your camping journey, remember that each trip is an opportunity to learn and grow more comfortable within the natural environment. The knowledge and tips shared here serve as a foundation upon which your own experiences will build and flourish. Whether you're solo trekking with friends or family, camping offers a chance to reconnect with nature and discover the joy of outdoor living. Let these insights guide you, but also be open to the lessons that come with each camping experience. Safe travels and happy camping await as you step confidently into the adventure that lies ahead.



Sykeside Campsite - The Lake District
Sykeside Campsite - The Lake District

Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter to get more hiking routes, gear reviews, and much more straight to your inbox.




If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read, please get in touch with me here.


If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download GPX routes. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction.


The View from Shepherds Crag Campsite
The View from Shepherds Crag Campsite




Comments


bottom of page