Author Topic: What do I need to start camping?  (Read 12276 times)

Offline theBINKYhunter

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What do I need to start camping?
« on: April 14, 2016, 12:12:54 PM »
My wife and I want to start camping with our family. She's never gone and it's been over a decade since I last went with friends. We have no gear except a sleeping bag of mine that's not been unrolled in a long time, a couple backpacks, and some fishing gear (used once, we want to change that as well).

We're not looking to go glamping or to do this in an RV. We want to pitch a tent, get a fire going, and have a good time with our kids. So where do I start? I've been looking at craigslist for stuff on the cheap. Our first excursion will probably be an overnight trip and hopefully with some friends who go semi regularly.

Here's my thoughts/questions on what we need to start:
  • Tent: Two room or two tents? I'd like to be separate from our kids. Not sure which way is better go for this.
  • Sleeping: Sleeping bags for all or air mattresses/foam pads and blankets?
  • Food: We've got a couple ice chests and a small portable grill to cook on. We rarely eat meat so most of our stuff can be stored in a cooler. What do you do for multi day trips where the ice won't last?
  • Water: Is there a trick I'm missing or do we just take a crap load of bottled water? I've got a Berkey that we could use to filter local water if there was a source nearby.
  • Lights: I've got several flashlights and we can pick up a lantern or two.
  • Cleaning: Dishes, us, etc. What is the best way to effectively clean things while out? If it's an overnight trip I'm not concerned about showering but dishes and other things... paper plates?
  • Seating: We've got some camping chairs. I can get a few more and I would imagine a folding table of some sort would make eating or playing games more enjoyable.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head. What am I missing or wrong about? What brands or types of deals should I look out for or stay away from? Again I'm not looking to spend a fortune. My wife and I want to make this something enjoyable for our family that we can look forward to for weekend trips or vacations and learn some wilderness skills along the way.


Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2016, 12:27:03 PM »
I'd recommend going to a nearby state park.  There's usually facilities to take a shower and use a real toilet.  It is also fairly cheap per night and if you need to leave quickly due to really bad weather or just not being prepared, you are close to home.  They typically have a picnic table in each camp site as well as a fire ring.

For the tent, it really depends on how old the kids are and how they would deal with waking in the middle of the night in a tent and mom and dad aren't right there.  The box stores have those 2 room tents and they work fine, but you won't get all that much use out of them.

Seems you are good with food.  For water, we use the campground water for cleaning and that sort of thing.  We bring a couple of the 2.5 gallon spring water jugs with us for drinking and cooking.

Your plan on lighting is good, but each kid will want their own flashlight.  I like rechargeable lanterns for camping.

I would also recommend that you set up camp in your back yard just to make sure you know how to set up the tent.  It's also a good introduction to younger kids to waking up in a strange place that isn't a house.
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Offline David in MN

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2016, 12:34:20 PM »
A lot of this will depend on how rustic you want to go. As a kid I would live out of a canoe for a week with my parents. My wife will only do a couple nights at a site you pull your car up to. I have friends who seriously backpack. All offer different challenges.

I wouldn't invest too much if you haven't done it with the family before. Start slow. Pick a campsite with some amenities like water and bathrooms. Eat "finger food" like hot dogs, tacos, kabobs, etc. with no clean-up. A low cost lantern type light is great. Start with a cheap tent from Wallyworld.

Frankly, if you have a relaxing weekend getaway with some fun foods around a campfire with some nature walks it's a big success. "Camping" is such an umbrella term you need to learn what aspect of it appeals to you. I'd much rather start positive than gear up like Lewis & Clarke only to find the kids hate it.
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Offline Teeroy

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2016, 12:39:30 PM »
Where do you plan on going camping? General area/state
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Offline RuggedCyclist

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2016, 01:04:33 PM »
You need some kind of comfortable sleeping pads. Trust me on that. Even if you can take sleeping on the cold hard ground (which actually could be doubtful if you haven't gone camping in so long), your wife and kids will thank you.

My camping set up is my bug out bag, plus tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and the girl's blanket and pillows she likes to bring. I have a small cooler we'll take some junk food in, hot dogs and the like, along with yerba mate tea, and trail mix and granola and stuff. For breakfast we normally go to this little diner in the nearest town, but sometimes we don't get to leaving for a bit so I have food with me because I can't go without breakfast for longer than like an hour.

Where we go it's way out in the national forest with no designated camp sites, but sites people have set up with flat areas and fire rings people make and leave there for the next person. Firewood is locally available, lots of dead trees around. Water, I have a 6 gallons in a big jug with spigot and a few smaller bottles behind the seat of my truck, plus my every day water bottle.

As for the tents, how old are your kids? If they're old enough to sleep alone, and you want to be separate, get two tents, a little kid tent for them, and make it an adventure for them.
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Offline Mountain State Prepper

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2016, 02:07:09 PM »
The trade off of most camping gear is cost vs weight vs quality.   Car camping gets the "weight" issue covered.   The only time I buy higher end gear is for HIKING type camping and need to shed weight.   Mostly I stick with the Ozark Trail or Colman stuff.  It is affordable and easily replaced.

Before you go be sure to set everything up in your back yard, make sure it is working and all there.   This gives you a chance to try everything out so you aren't figuring it out for the first time on site.   On a similar note, don't worry about how it looks when you break it all down to come home, because you should set it all back up again to get it aired out and cleaned before you roll it up right for storage.



TENT

Any of the Wal-mart 6-8 person tents will do you right for 2 adults and 2 kids.   A lot of new ones even have a divider.   I'd not separate from the kids the first few times if you think they will be scared, because they will just end up back in the "grown ups" tent anyway.   These family style tents are roomy and have a lot of mesh for air flow, but are only reliable in fair weather, even with the rain fly.   Costs new....$50-80 or so.


SLEEPING

Same as above, fair weather bags are good down to 40F or so, and can be had new for $20 each.  I prefer these to be bought new, just like I wouldn't by used linens for my bed at home :)

WATER

Any national or state parks will list if they have services like water or electric availabe on kept/numbered camping spots.   If they do, great, you can get a couple of jugs to use to make koolaid or tea, your set.   Otherwise, you have to consider it a necessity.  Even if water is available from a spigot, you should have a case of water, just in case.

STOVE

Propane is by far the easiest way to go, just like using gas at home.   Fuel is cheap and readily available.   If you think you need two portable tanks, bring three.   Try to stick with food that is easy and quick to heat.  For instance, if you want mac and cheese, a kid favorite, get the single serving kind, rather than a big box you make.   Less mess to clean up, and you are only having to boil the water.  Hotdogs and burgers can typically be cooked over the fire.   


DISHES

Paper/plastic products all the way.   When done, dump them right into the fire, your dishes are done.   I always bring a bucket of some sort.  Use it for quick hand washes, etc etc.   Handy to have a bucket around.  Ziploc bags are handy too.


LIGHTS

Everyone gets a cheap $3 LED flashlight to call thier own.   A good two mantle propane lantern will be plenty bright for the campsite.   LED is the way to go here for anything battery operated.   Brighter, easier on batteries.   Remember you'll get some light from the fire too.



SEATING and COMFORT

The older I get, the more this means to me.   I like my zero gravity chair.   I used to sit on an unsplit log and be fine.   I also used to sleep on the ground, now I go air matress.   All depends on your tolerance.   Air Matresses can keep you warmer too, providing a barrier between you and the cold hard ground.   Most sites have a picinic table.  A folding card table is good to have.   Got a truck?  Tailgates work great too.


SHOWERING

Like water and electric.  A lot of state parks have showers.   You usually pay more for a site if they are available.   If you are going for just the weekend, shower when you get home.    I camp near streams and rivers almost exclusively.    I have been known to put on my swim trunks and grab a bar of soap and wade in :).....trunks are even optional!  lol
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Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2016, 02:14:29 PM »
Thanks for the input and suggestions. After thinking more on the tent I think two tents will be preferable to one. If my wife and I ever decide to go by ourselves I'd much rather have only a small tent to set up for us. I believe the kids will do fine in their own tent and will most likely love it. They've 'camped' in my parent's living room before without issue. I realize that's not the same but it is different from their normal bedrooms. The weather is warming up and soon we'll be 'camping' on our trampoline in the back yard :)

We would be doing a federal or state park to start with. They have some basic facilities and I know that will be easier on all of us to start. I don't know if we'll ever be living out of backpacks on the trail for a week but I think it would be awesome to do something akin to what Rugged mentioned: out in the (semi) sticks just by ourselves.

Frankly, if you have a relaxing weekend getaway with some fun foods around a campfire with some nature walks it's a big success. "Camping" is such an umbrella term you need to learn what aspect of it appeals to you. I'd much rather start positive than gear up like Lewis & Clarke only to find the kids hate it.

I completely agree and the weekend is my/our goal to start. My wife and I went hiking with the dog this week and really enjoyed it. It's something we want to start doing consitently and adding a night or two out close to the trails would be a lot of fun I think.

On a similar note, don't worry about how it looks when you break it all down to come home, because you should set it all back up again to get it aired out and cleaned before you roll it up right for storage.

I never would have thought of that, great tip!


Offline machinisttx

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2016, 04:56:52 PM »
I like tents, but I dislike tents too. Here, they are miserable to be inside during the day in the summer. Not too bad at night, as long as there is wind and airflow through the tent. All tents are not created equal..... Walmart stuff is serviceable, but it's not well suited to really heavy use. If you have a truck, there are truck bed tents. No idea what they cost though.

Air mattress or pad(air or foam) most definitely if you're sleeping in a tent. The air mattress is really nice if you're going to drive up to the campsite and unload your stuff. If not....they're pretty bulky and you have to carry some way to inflate it too. The other option would be a "self inflating" sleeping pad, though they are kind of pricey. They pack small, so that's a bonus if you're carrying it.

Your old sleeping bag may or may not be serviceable. Bags should not be stored compressed. I would pull the bag out and see if it lofts back up. If it doesn't, trash it or keep it to modify into something useful. Half of the weight of a sleeping bag is completely useless to you. The half that's under you when sleeping provides little or no insulating value...it is compressed by your weight and there isn't any air trapped in the insulation material. Backpacking quilts are way better if you're carrying your gear around.

You might try using hammocks, though they bring their own set of potential problems. An entire hammock sleep system can weigh less than just a typical sleeping bag...depends on the materials and setup though. One of the problems with hammocks is that even in warmer weather, you may need at least an underquilt to stay warm at night. The upside of this is that in our Texas summer heat, you can hang out in the hammock during the day without sweating your brains out. Check out hammockforums.com if you're interested...very inexpensive to make your own hammock and under/over quilts, and ultralight tarps. I'm about to make my son a Hennessy Hammock clone for a campout he has coming up.  ;D

Water? I have an MSR Miniworks filter and a sawyer filter(walmart and academy have them). The latter is extremely cheap and can be used several different ways. With four people, you will probably be more happy with the sawyer set up as a gravity filter. If I'm going to car camp, I'd just take bottled water.

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Offline bradleypaul75

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2016, 07:46:28 PM »
our local parks have lean-to for use (no cost to county residents). they also have a water pump and outhouse. Pretty much you can car camp and me pretty set. This and your back yar are great places to learn from. Something worth every dime is a good quality sleeping at like a Therma-Rest. I bough one for the wife that is about 1" thick.

Dont worry about all the sweet gear yet. Borrow and rent (REI rents out stuff). You have sleeping bag, work with in its rating (IE 20 degree, -10 degree.....) If walking have well broken in boots and quality socks (I am a Smartwool user). In fact, Lieutenant Dan said two great things, "take care of your feet... Wool socks, OD Green. And don't do anything stupid like getting your self killed"

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Offline AvenueQ

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2016, 07:52:53 PM »
We just got a mattress and new tent this year because I have had trouble sleeping on the self-inflating pads (even the thick ones are too thin for me, I wake up with hip and back pain). In fact we just inflated the mattress tonight to check everything and make sure it will work.

One thing you forgot from your list which may not seem obvious is FUN STUFF TO DO! (you may have thought of this already and just didn't add it up top, but I have this problem when we go camping and so I thought I'd mention it). Especially if you have kids, you're probably already used to having a variety of things for them to do when you go places and have backup activities. Don't shirk on it here just because there's more [strike]stuff[/strike] chores to do when camping (and we know how kids feel about [strike]stuff[/strike] chores ;) ).

As for water, we save 2 liter bottles and carry them in with milk crates, which you can often find at the thrift store. They're easy to store, fit easily in the crates, and they're friggin indestructible (plus cheap). We have a couple of the 3 gallon Resilience jugs with handles, and I personally wouldn't go any bigger than that just for weight reasons (your wife will likely agree with me on that one).

This time of year you may not need to worry as much, but always check your local fire restrictions before going. Around here sometimes you are allowed to have a fire but only in a designated fire pit with metal walls, and sometimes you are not allowed to have a fire at all and have to bring a propane stove in. This will have a big impact on what types of food you chose to bring.

The future husband and I usually bring plastic dishes and wash them, though we don't have kids and usually make one-pot dinners and then just use the pot as a washing basin (dumping the water over the fire when done).

Good luck, I hope you guys get some gear and have a good time!

Edited to add: warm layers, especially socks! Even fifty degrees gets chilly when you have to stay out there for 8 hours straight. Better to have too much clothing than not enough.

Offline Da Li

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2016, 08:59:27 PM »
Wrote the whole post and then came back to add this one... TOILET PAPER!!
ALWAYS have a backup roll! Remember, outhouses, bathrooms, etc. at state and fed parks are stocked by gov't employees or contractors...some do a great job, some do a gov't job. Don't be the guy that comes home with only half a T-shirt.

I like a pair of cheap(-ish) welding gloves for making adjustments to the fire, handling pots/pans, adjusting cooking grates etc. You still hit a point where things are too hot to handle, but it definitely increase my baseline tolerance. Plus, if it gets TOO hot, you can shake them off easy just like when you're welding.

My wife and I have started using a small futon mattress instead of the foam pads and extra sleeping bags, blankets etc. that we used to use for padding.

Our tent is a shorter domed tent that we can't stand up straight in for changing clothes. We bought (after thoroughly reading reviews) a stand-up changing tent for when we are sleeping/camping out of the back of our Forester. The model we bought was relatively cheap ($25) on Am azon. Search "TMS portable green outdoor pop-up camping changing room." All the negative reviews complained about difficulty packing it up but if you find the youtu be video showing how to do it it is extremely easy. Won't stand up straight in stronger (20mph+) winds so take it down when not in use.

My thoughts on LANTERNS... go to bed when it gets dark. Don't get me wrong, I'm a "night owl" and I love sitting by the fire til 2 a.m., but that's because I enjoy watching the ~fire~ rather than being able to see 100 ft in every direction like some campers do. That being said, if it's late, you're tired and hungry and can't see well enough to even make PBJ sandwiches for supper you'll be wishing for a good broad area light source.
We do have a small solar/dc/110 volt rechargeable led lantern that I like to leave on on our picnic table when we make the last bathroom trip before bed so we have a beacon to guide us back to the right campsite.

FOOD...my wife is mostly vegetarian which means I am too. This makes camping SO much easier when it comes to keeping things cold. A trick my wife came up with on a long road trip is to buy a drink from the coolers at a gas station/grocery store/etc. and put it in our lunchbox sized cooler bag instead of an ice pack. (Function stacking!)
We like having a package of soft-shell tortillas on hand. One of life guiding principles is -when in doubt put it in a tortilla and call it a burrito. Saves on cleanup too.

COFFEE drinkers? We use french press mugs. Put in grounds, add boiling water, coffee's ready. (Legal Disclaimer-- Don't be an idiot and burn yourself like the McDonald's lady.)

STOVE
I'll agree with others regarding the portable propane stoves as being worth the effort. Just plan ahead and buy propane cylinders at home NOT at the camp store, nearby gas station, etc. Camping gear carries HUGE markups the closer you get to the campground. I used to be a purist and insist we cook all our meals over the fire. Then I got tired of being hungry and spending an hour and a half trying to make ramen. Sidenote - campground wood for sale is usually expensive and green (ie doesn't burn well enough to be worth the money).

MOSQUITOES (and other crawly critters)
If there's one there's a million. Keep that tent zipped up tight. You don't necessarily need to fumigate the whole campground, but be good about keeping them out of your "house".

TOOLS
Hatchet for splitting wood, driving tent stakes in hard ground, cutting branches into shorter lengths. Folding saw. Pliers/multi-tool. Good knife for everyone responsible enough to handle one.

FIRST AID
Skip the pre-made kits in the camping aisle and go to the pharmacy dept. of the big box store and get more value. Pre-assembled kits are usually mostly band-aids. Buy some bigger gauze pads and ace bandages.

GARBAGE and HOUSEKEEPING/SAFETY
Take some large and small (wal-mart bag sized) garbage bags and keep the site tidy. Look for things you'll trip on when its dark, your eyes are burning from a smoky fire and you're trying to move some logs around. Face planting into the fire sucks. Your kid face planting into the fire bc you left random logs strewn about is gonna be an even worse feeling.

Also, make friends with your garbage man at home. Seriously. I drove a garbage truck for 4 years. People throw out brand new tents bc they can't get them back in the box, fishing gear, hatchets and other tools, candles, butterfly nets for the kids, flashlights that need new batteries, all kinds of string and cordage, weather and two-way radios, lawnchairs, etc. etc. etc. etc. Throw him a ten for such great service and then next week ask if he ever sees any ~blank~ thrown away. I've been meaning to start a topic about prepping with "garbage" but haven't gotten to it. Tipping at Christmas is fine and appreciated, but a tip in Apr-Sept is ~noticed~. Just make sure it's your regular guy and not a substitute driver.

That's enough out of me for the moment.
ENJOY and keep us posted!!

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Offline Ms. Albatross

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 09:28:05 PM »
Don't be the guy that comes home with only half a T-shirt.

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Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2016, 11:08:10 PM »
We have TP covered and there's always at least two spare rolls in both vehicles. We learned quickly on our trip to Thailand that you are wise to bring TP with you everywhere you go.


Offline Cedar

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Re: What do I need to start camping?
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2016, 02:19:26 AM »
    • Tent: Two room or two tents? I'd like to be separate from our kids. Not sure which way is better go for this.

    How old are the kids? Under 12, keep them with you. Where are you going? Local campground or pretty remote? DO NOT believe that a 2 man tent is a 2-man tent, it is like a medium sized woman and a small sized child tent. I prefer a 3 man tent for me and my 6 year old daughter.

    Sleeping: Sleeping bags for all or air mattresses/foam pads and blankets?[/li][/list]

    Wanna be cold? Get an air mattress. I use my old -0C sleeping bags as a ground pad, unless I am sleeping on snow, and then I put a bale of straw under my tent. Where are you camping? Where I usually camp is 35F at night recently and 75F during the day. I take -0F rated sleeping bag, put a flannel sheet in it, or a sarong in it if it gets too hot.

    Food: We've got a couple ice chests and a small portable grill to cook on. We rarely eat meat so most of our stuff can be stored in a cooler. What do you do for multi day trips where the ice won't last?

    Freeze water in 2 liter and half gallon jugs and when it is melted you have drinking water. If I am going where there is a creek, I take a large milk crate and a rope and drop the perishables in it, and then into the moving creek. In hot country and long time, I use dehydrated.

    Water: Is there a trick I'm missing or do we just take a crap load of bottled water? I've got a Berkey that we could use to filter local water if there was a source nearby.

    Are you going where there is no potable water? I usually take 18 gallons, plus another 5 gallons and whatever is the 'ice packs' in the cooler/s for 2-3 days. I figure it is better to have more than less, and I usually go where there are no potable water available.

    Lights: I've got several flashlights and we can pick up a lantern or two.[/li][/list]

    In the last few years I am really liking those battery operated candles.. works great in the tent too.

    Cleaning: Dishes, us, etc. What is the best way to effectively clean things while out? If it's an overnight trip I'm not concerned about showering but dishes and other things... paper plates?

    I take a dishpan and dishsoap in a squeeze bottle. I use cast iron pans, normal plates, normal coffee mugs (unless I am hiking/packing). I clean them just like I normally clean them. I also wash my hair in the dishpan unless there is a creek nearby, and I use organic earth friendly shampoo.. and I have washed my hair in glacial water in about 30 seconds flat when I had not washed my hair in a week. Desperate measures for desperate times. If you try this, do it in the mid-morning, so you are dry (I have long hair) by evening.

    Seating: We've got some camping chairs. I can get a few more and I would imagine a folding table of some sort would make eating or playing games more enjoyable.

    I have 2 wooden 'trunks'. One is the dry box for foods, the other is the drybox for cooking gear. Ice chests also work as seating. I consider all three of them fair game to sit on, cook on, play games on, but not all at the same time. If you are not going to a local campground where there are picnic tables, then you might decide to take a folding table. I usually like to set up camp in less than 10 minutes if I am only going to be out there for a day or two. Unless setting up camp is *your thing*.. which to some people it is..


    • Don't forget games
    • Fishing or crawdad gear
    • Books
    • I loved the little hammock my family had when I was growing up
    • Nature guides
    • 10 essentials backpacks if you are doing any hiking
    • Multiple layers
    • First aid kit including Benedril and sunscreen, and bug spray (may I suggest Buzz Away brand?)
    • Two more pairs of socks per person than you think you need
    • Two pairs of shoes. I know one kind who threw his shoes over the edge of a cliff in the Rocky Mountains. It might not get that extreme, but sometimes shoes are difficult to get dry out there if they get wet. You can stuff newspaper or moss in them to dry them.
    • Large black plastic garbage bags. Not just for garbage, but for keeping stuff dry, and emergency raingear.
    • Large tarp and bungies or tie downs to put over the tents in case it rains. Make sure where you locate your tent is not in a bowl or ravine. I also use one as a drop under my tent. If you leave enough in front of the door, it makes a great 'porch' to take off shoes etc.
    • Go to the Dollar Store and get glow sticks for the kids. They are good night lights if they are a bit scared of sleeping in 'the wilderness'.
    • Popcorn. I also use my pots (I take 2-3) as mixing bowls for blueberry pancakes and such.
    • Lighter, matches, newspaper for fires if they are allowed there. Try to get local firewood, due to moving bugs (like Mountain Pine Beetle) and moving the infestation to new areas.
    • Keep Toilet paper in a coffee can or such with a lid to keep it from getting damp from the air. I think that is the only thing I loathe about living outdoors, is damp or wet TP..

    Cedar[/list][/list](I cannot make the /list /list go away)  :(
    « Last Edit: April 15, 2016, 02:28:16 AM by Cedar »
    "Do not breathe simply to exist."

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    Offline bigbear

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #14 on: April 15, 2016, 01:44:34 PM »
    Starting with state/national parks is the way to go.  Like others have mentioned, the car, bathroom, and access to water are good for beginning the journey.  With kids, it’s about building great experiences primarily.  If you have a ball, then you’ll have more justification for spending more money on camping supplies.

    Tent – either way.  We have a large two room for the family.  But I also have a small 3-man tent.
    •   But a plastic ground cloth is key if your tent doesn’t have one.  You don’t want water seeping up from the ground.
    Sleeping – Go ahead and get sleeping bags.  Two options for the kids – cheap replaceable with a few blankets or good quality adult bag.  Actually, I always use a blanket when I camp (either throw it inside the bag with you to add insulation/take up air space or if it’s too warm just use that instead of the bag). 
    •   Regular air mattresses are comfortable, but if it’s colder then it’ll take your body heat at night.  So in colder weather you may want a foam pad or a higher quality backpacking air mattress.
    •   Do the foam pad for the kids either way.  They are lighter, so they won’t feeling the bumps as much (at least that’s what I tell myself).
    Water – For this level of camping, just packing it is fine.  Or better yet, most state/federal sites have clean water.  Do your homework on this first.
    Dishes – depends…  You may want to just do paper plates and plastic forks/spoons to start.  But there are all sorts of durable strong plastic dining sets on the market.  (Or use a Frisbee and it’s multi-purposed!)
    Cooking – If your portable grill is a one-burner, then you’ll most likely be doing one-pot meals.  Or supplementing the cooking over a fire.  Some things that I’d suggest to pack:
    •   Aluminum foil – wrap whatever you want to cook in it with some (butter, seasoning, etc) and throw it on the coals.
    •   Metal grate – cook directly on it or in an iron pot or skillet
    •   Iron pot, skillet, Dutch oven, kettle – to cook with (choose based on what you’ll eat)
    •   Oven mitt – because fires get hot
    •   Tongs, burger flipper, and skewers – to cook with (hotdogs over a fire, baked beans on the stove, and fresh veggies with a s’mores chaser is camping meal kids of all ages love!)
    •   Campsuds – biodegradable washing detergent (you could use it to bathe with too).

    Either prepare the meals ahead of time (i.e. chopping, spices, etc) or bring the chopping board and stuff with you.  State sites sometimes will have picnic tables.  If not, then a small folding table is better than using a stump or log (or trunk/hood/tailgate) as your prep station.

    Seating – Bring the chairs.  Do you have to?  No, but you’ll enjoy it better.  And isn’t that one of the main goals at this point?

    Other things – fire starters, matches in a Ziploc bag, trash bags, extra socks, rain gear (maybe even a canopy/tarp), extra batteries, whistle, map/compass?, multi-tool (duh).
    "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."
    - Isaac Asimov

    Offline Carl

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #15 on: April 15, 2016, 02:09:39 PM »
    I also suggest a small fan/LED light combo for in your tent ,a bit of air moving will make for comfort and skeeters don't find you so well.
    Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

    I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

    If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

    Radios are pointless without someone trained to use them.

    Offline bradleypaul75

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #16 on: April 15, 2016, 03:55:21 PM »
    Last year I wen camping well rested and did not work too much. Therefore I slept very lightly and every bump in the night kept me up, I recommend bringing foamy ear plugs just in case you need them. They are good for those who you may tent with that snore.

    Offline theBINKYhunter

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #17 on: April 15, 2016, 08:08:11 PM »
    Last year I wen camping well rested and did not work too much. Therefore I slept very lightly and every bump in the night kept me up, I recommend bringing foamy ear plugs just in case you need them. They are good for those who you may tent with that snore.

    so my wife needs them because I snore... and I need them because the dog snores louder than me... :D


    Offline RitaRose1945

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #18 on: April 16, 2016, 08:39:49 PM »
    Last year I wen camping well rested and did not work too much. Therefore I slept very lightly and every bump in the night kept me up, I recommend bringing foamy ear plugs just in case you need them. They are good for those who you may tent with that snore.


    Honestly, if you're used to city noise, "out in the middle of nowhere" silence can be really difficult for some people to sleep in.  It's too quiet.


    It's like how you don't truly understand real "hand in front of your face" darkness at night until you're really far away from the city.

    Offline r_w

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #19 on: April 17, 2016, 10:16:44 AM »
    Some parks charge per tent , some have an X by Y rectangle tent site that everything including guy lines must fit inside.  Either can make two tents challenging. But sometimes the good spots are too small for a giant multi room tent.

    I have done both and the right answer depends on location, weather, and your kids.

    Offline Mountain State Prepper

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #20 on: April 17, 2016, 02:50:40 PM »
    It is great that you want to get out there.   After a trip or two you'll have tips for us😄.  I used to camp up on the Mogollon Rim when I was in AZ.  It's a cool place.
    --Montani Semper Liberi

    Offline Carl

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #21 on: April 17, 2016, 06:01:22 PM »
    It is great that you want to get out there.   After a trip or two you'll have tips for us😄.  I used to camp up on the Mogollon Rim when I was in AZ.  It's a cool place.

    Karma for your camping,and your dog...plus 1
    Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

    I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

    If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

    Radios are pointless without someone trained to use them.

    Offline Thrive

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #22 on: April 18, 2016, 10:08:53 AM »
    Quote
    My wife and I want to start camping with our family. She's never gone and ...

    We're not looking to go glamping or to do this in an RV. We want to pitch a tent, get a fire going, and have a good time with our kids. ...

    My wife and I want to make this something enjoyable for our family that we can look forward to for weekend trips or vacations and learn some wilderness skills along the way.

    Most important: know thy wife!

    I grew up backpacking with boy scouts. At twelve I did a 60 mile 5.5 day hike through NW backcountry you couldn't get to any other way. We didn't need camp chairs 'cause logs and rocks were fine. We didn't need entertainment because we had knives, fire, lakes, and distance from parents.

    Many years later I camped with my wife for the first time. She grew up doing fairly impressive hikes and a bit of camping, so I didn't think to make adjustments. Serious mistake. Our excited young child squirmed all night when we wanted to sleep. My wife got sick, not yet knowing she was pregnant with our second. The capstone was her reaction to the not-so-pleasant scent of park service latrines when she was already nauseous.

    The most important preparation you can make is to know your wife, and consider how to help her have an amazing experience. If that means a thicker foam pad under her sleeping bag, then get it. If it means that you work a little harder to give her a break, then do it. Definitely check forecasts and ensure her first experience is in decent weather.

    Consider your children's ages and ability to help vs. hassle. If you're trying to simultaneously give your wife a break, pitch a tent, and keep small kids out of the fire... good luck giving your wife a good first experience!

    Think ahead about what you need to do on arriving at the campsite. Know who's doing what. Have a plan. Include room for error in the plan by not arriving right before dark, and not driving so far that kids go nuts in the car.

    If you like camping and you want your family to like camping, then go out of your way to help them have a fantastic first time.

    Most of all, enjoy! The little things are the big things... so make them good things.


    Offline RitaRose1945

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #23 on: April 18, 2016, 06:54:57 PM »
    The most important preparation you can make is to know your wife, and consider how to help her have an amazing experience. If that means a thicker foam pad under her sleeping bag, then get it. If it means that you work a little harder to give her a break, then do it. Definitely check forecasts and ensure her first experience is in decent weather.


    MUCH cheaper in the long run than bear spray or attorneys.   ;)


    But you're absolutely right.  And I would also say that you should have a good discussion of how each camper sees the trip.  The ideas of what constitutes "camping" can be anything from a 33' motor home with full hookups to camping open air, no tent, eating freeze-dried food and using a Lifestraw for water.


    ETA: Oh!  And welcome to the forums!  Great first post!

    Offline MrThirteen

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #24 on: April 18, 2016, 10:11:35 PM »
    I have nothing to add to this thread at this time, but I wanted to thank all the participants thus far... We have been car camping for a little while now and have experienced quite a few things.  The above posts have peaked my interest into some new camping experiments.   Never thought about our bags being rolled up all winter long. Also never thought about purposely setting up the tents etc at home to air out/clean pack right as a rule anyway. (It usually happens because the tents are dirty and we are tired of camping and want to go home. Thus, the "awe screw it" thought comes followed by "we will just clean it at home later".)

    Thanks again,

    13

    Until the next time,

    Thirteen

    Offline 11steve11

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #25 on: April 19, 2016, 09:48:18 AM »
    Re-read Cedar's post...Ditto!
    All posts are excellent information and you should be able to pick and choose what you need.

    Similar to Thrive, I grew up camping with family and Boy Scouts and today lead a scout troop.  My son and I are minimalist campers even at summer camp, when others are in cabins, we're sleeping out in our camping hammocks...awesome.
    My wife, by contrast, thinks 'roughing it' is a hotel without room service or indoor pool.  She is a tough lady and has camped with us but son and I were prepared to handle any of her 'not having fun issues' and she does great.

    Two additional bits of advice:
    >Practice - practice - practice in your back yard. Each of your team needs to do this individually.  All of you need to learn to do the other's jobs too in case of an emergency. One night when I was 12 or 13 years old, my dad got sick while camping; I had to break camp and pack everything in the truck.  Then about 5 miles from camp, my dad turned to me and asked if I could see the road, I could, "Good, then you're driving." I had been driving on a farm for several years by then but this was the 1st time ever on a state highway; he fell asleep and I drove about 100 miles home.  Contingency and emergencies should be part of the practice.
    >During your camping career you and she (and kids) will have 'moments' where you won't be friends; work hard and get through it even if that means packing up and going home (or a hotel).  Years later, all of the other camping trips will meld together in your memory; but those will be the ones you'll laugh about together and will be a special bond to share with future generations. 


    Offline RitaRose1945

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #26 on: April 19, 2016, 06:53:07 PM »
    Oh, one more I just remembered - keep a small journal.  And use paper for it, not your phone or your computer.


    It's great for writing down what the best and worst camping sites are for the next trip, as well as details like things you might need to bring and how long it really took you to get there, or whether that shortcut actually worked.


    It's also great for looking back and reliving some pretty cool memories.  My parents had one when we started camping beginning in about 1968, and it's likely the only thing we kids will fight over when my mom passes.


    Offline Da Li

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #27 on: April 20, 2016, 01:03:10 PM »
    Another thought has come to mind....

    When possible, avoid the ReserveAmerica camping reservation website. It was hard to do when we were passing through coastal California in prime July camping season. Some campgrounds fill up months in advance, particularly on weekends, so in those cases you'll pretty much have to use the website.
    But otherwise, my thinking is:
    Why pay an extra $8 per reservation?
    You might need multiple reservations for multiple campsites in order to stay within one campground for several days...one night at site 32, two nights at site 15, one night at site 78 makes four nights in one campground. In this type of scenario it's often easier to just talk to the host or admin. people on site.
     ...and...
     Why lock myself in to a particular campsite that may be a terrible site for a tent?
    You could get to your reserved site and find out it's at the bottom of a hill, next to a swampy spot with extra mosquitoes, backs up to the main parking lot for the boat trailers, or is next to the dumpster, etc.etc.
    Also!
    It doesn't guarantee your site will be empty and ready when you get there. We accidentally camped in someone's "reserved" site one night because the campground (government) workers didn't have an adequate system for marking reserved sites. According to the park ranger that chewed us out the next morning(at 10 am as we were leaving), there was a sticky note in the window of the unmanned (at 7 pm, so not extremely late) gate house listing all the reserved sites. Nothing at all at the actual sites to indicate whether it was reserved. So due to inadequate procedures and signage, the other campers had to scramble to find a site, despite having made a "reservation".
    As stated in Seinfeld season one or two... Anyone can just TAKE a reservation!

    Ok back to my english paper!

    --Da

    Sometimes the best thing that can happen is for your phone to die....

    Offline Black November

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #28 on: April 26, 2016, 02:20:37 PM »
    Instead compiling a list of stuff, I will just give you some advice:

    1.) You won't use half of the stuff you bring. So don't go crazy buying stuff.
    2.) If you want to make things easy, make you meals at home ahead of time, and just heat them up like left-overs.
    3.) Don't become discouraged/overwhelmed when you first start out camping. Camping takes practice, and is much more enjoyable once you become better at it.
    4.) The point of camping is not to watch TV or play video games in woods, but to enjoy the experience of the woods with friends and family.
    5.) If you forget something, you will survive. It is not the end of the world.
    6.) After returning home from a camping trip, take a moment to appreciate all the modern conveniences that you normally take for granted.

    Offline fritz_monroe

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    Re: What do I need to start camping?
    « Reply #29 on: April 26, 2016, 04:11:01 PM »
    Outstanding post Black November

    5.) If you forget something, you will survive. It is not the end of the world.
    I'll add to this.  If you forget something that is critical, there will likely be a Walmart, Target, etc within driving distance most of the time.  If you are in a state park or established campground, talk to the other campers.  You will likely be able to borrow whatever you forgot.
    F_M
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