Beginner's Guide to Camping Essentials
If this is the first time you'll be venturing outside of the comfort of your home, or you've been twiddling your fingers over the idea of it.
Fear not! We are here to provide you, the camping newbie, with a comprehensive guide to help you make the most and prepare for the best outdoors camping experience, and stop you from chickening out and do the deed instead.
1. Choosing the Right Type of Camping Style
WAIT! Before you go out and are about to get yourself that camping gear, you need to decide where you are going to camp and have a basic amount of knowledge on the various kinds of camping:
Campsite Camping: This is the most popular choice amongst campers and for good reason too. This type of camping requires the camper to pay a campsite fee to pitch his/her tent at a campsite for a certain period of time. The fees can range from somewhere around $25-35 AUD per night depending on the facilities provided at the campsite and some charge more based on the number of people camping. The great thing about campsite camping is that many of these campsites contain a variety of different people or groups such as families, friends or couples giving you the opportunity to experience camping at its best.
Some campsites even have segmentation rules such as families only, allowing families to have peace of mind when it comes to the safety of their kids. Another great benefit of these campsites is that some of them come with essential features such as showers, toilets, and washrooms. If you want to enjoy nature without having to sacrifice the comfort of showering or toilet facilities, this is for you. Just be sure to check the campsite’s website if they have shower & toilet facilities, as not all campsites have these. A few even have playgrounds to keep the kids busy while you enjoy the peaceful nature.
If you are a beginner, this is our recommendation to you because it is relatively easy and allows you to make mistakes such as forgetting to bring something essential. These campsites generally have a general store & a little cafe nearby so it's very helpful, you can even have a cup of coffee in the morning from the cafe, if you don't want to bother with bringing your own coffee & boiling water. Just keep in mind that these general stores & cafes normally close around 4pm or 5pm (refer to the specific campsite's general store or cafe opening hours) so don't count on having your dinner there! Just don’t forget to read the rules of the campsite you are planning to pitch your tent on as some even have defined rules in regards to the size of the tent.
If you are unsure regarding which camping site to pick, we highly recommend you to read our blog post on the 5 Best Camping Sites in Australia which gives you our point-of-view. If you are someone who is outside of Australia or not near any of these locations and want help judging how to pick the perfect campsite then check out our article on Choosing the Perfect Campsite.
- Overnight Hiking / Thru-Hiking / Backpacking: This is Novapro Sport's core existence. We specialise in ultralight camping gear for our customers for the reason of long hikes and overnight hikes. These include cutting through different terrains, big long walks, and alpine hikes to much more secluded areas away from civilisation and tourists. These are usually national parks, unexplored terrains and great walks. At times, these hikes can be grinding, takes many days, but are also the most rewarding and most fully immersive experience to experience the true beauty of nature. Most of these hikes are enjoyable with certain level of fitness, and there is an element of challenge attached to it. To make these hikes more enjoyable, achieving lightweightness in the gear you carry allows you to walk further, stay more relaxed, tire yourself less and go further faster, lighter.
Festival Camping: Festival camping has become a norm in Australia with music festivals that occur throughout the year. However, if you are new to it, festivals alone can be quite an overwhelming experience for you. One of the big draws of festivals other than the festivities, of course, is going camping with your close friends, family or significant other. For a lot of people, the socialising and camping experience itself is the most exciting part.
Camping in festivals can be quite a chore if you are not sure about what to do or have never done it before. Unlike campsite camping, camps in festivals are not segregated to separate families from singles. This means that everyone is stuck together in one place so it is wise to arrive early to find yourself the best camping spot possible. Furthermore, some festival camping sites can be quite far inland where there is a lot of space to camp and conduct the festivities, this means that you might need to park quite far away from the camping site.
Depending on the size of your festive group, it could be a good idea to get a bigger camping tent with a living area and split the cost, with this method you may get a tent of a better quality while paying less for it. However, it is important that you do check the rules to see what size tents are allowed or the kind of gear you are allowed to bring with you, failure to follow the rules will most likely result in your gear being confiscated.
Glamping: If you are someone who likes the great outdoors but do not like the prospect of forfeiting the comforts of a home to go sightseeing then glamping is perfect for you. Most people consider glamping to be a mashup of the world glamorous and camping while some refer to it as glorious camping.
There are a lot of divisive opinions when it comes to glamping. Many hardcore campers don’t consider *glampers* a part of the camping category. However, we are of the opinion that glamping is for those who don’t like to rough it out in the great outdoors and like a bit of luxury in their trips. Glamping usually consists of pre-pitched tents that people can rent which mean that they don’t need to bring their own equipment. For glampers, the cost for comfort is reasonable in their point of view.
2. Buying a tent
We won’t go into much detail in this section because we have already discussed this extensively in our blog article Choosing the Right Hiking Tent. We highly recommend you to read through the blog post as it offers a deep and detailed insight into the various factors that you need to consider before you get your camping/hiking tent. Have a look at some of our best hiking tents:
3. The Other Essentials: Camping and Hiking Equipment
Camping is not all about buying a tent and pitching it at a campsite, there are other things you need to make the experience enjoyable for yourself:
Sleeping bag is definitely a strong camping essential. The type of sleeping bag you use is heavily dependent on the type of weather you will be weathering during your hike, and the season of your state. Our bestselling sleeping bag is a very small compact ultralight Summer / Spring / Autumn sleeping bag - although also very commonly used for winter if you will be dressing up appropriately.
We also have down sleeping bags for the cold winter areas in Australia or the cold night drops in temps.
For our range of sleeping bags, see our collection on sleeping bags.
We will be doing an article on sleeping bags to give more guidance on choosing a sleeping bag, and how to assess one depending on its R value!
Sleeping mats are another essential. Novapro Sports stock an ultralight version that is easily deployable and set up. Unlike self inflating mats that is sometimes unreliable, and takes a lot of work to roll, unroll and time to actually allow it to self inflate, our sleeping mat has a built in lightweight sponge air pump that is compressable by pressing onto the pump repeatedly - pumping air into the sleeping mat. We find this method to be much faster for getting your air mattress to be set up in no time - although it does require a bit more work to pump. However, the team at Novapro Sports Camping Store find it really more enjoyable inflating the sleeping mat through a built in pump than self inflating ones that seem to take a long time to self inflate. Have you tried a self inflating mat before? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts!
- Now when it comes to the difference between camping and hiking, the gear that makes the biggest difference is the backpack. If you are going to go camping, you arguably don’t need a backpack at all but in the case of hiking, you definitely need one. When buying a backpack, there are three main distinctions in terms of size that you need to look out for to pick the right bag for you: daypacks, overnight and long haul. Out of the three, you pick one that best meets your needs:
- Daypacks are usually used when you are only hiking for one day without camping overnight.
- Overnight backpacks are used where you are hiking overnight or for 2-3 nights.
- Long haul backpacks are used when you are planning on hiking or travelling for a long period of time like when you go backpacking through a country with the intent of seeing its sights.
However, we wouldn’t recommend you to get a lantern if you plan on going hiking as it can be quite bulky and add to the weight. A camping headlamp will definitely be your need, whereby lanterns are handy to hang in your tent and bring around when you are chilling around the campsite. Do note that our LED Camping Lantern is a portable mini size lantern for ultralight hikes - the max light output is 130 Lumens and uses 3 AAA batteries. If you need more illumination to illuminate larger areas for base camping, you may need something much stronger!
Now this may not be a necessity as it entirely depends on the type of trip you are taking. Hiking Boots are generally considered a necessity when you are hiking rather than camping. Most of the times your sneakers will do just fine but if you are planning to go across rough terrain, dedicated hiking boots are a more suitable option considering that they offer better stability, padding, and support to better grip on slippery slopes thanks to the deeper grooves on soles. Your selection can be broken down into four categories depending on what you want to do:
- Boots are clunkier but far sturdier which makes them ideal for people who want more grip.
- Trail runners are light in comparison and don’t have the same level of grip as a result. They are best if you are planning to jump around a lot.
- Hiking shoes are considered a compromise between the above-mentioned shoes and are both lightweight and have a good grip. However, they don’t last very long.
- Approach shoes are great when you are planning to go climbing and are considered to be somewhere between boots and runners.
There's a really good article on the comparison of these from gizmodo:
- Paper Maps: It doesn’t matter if you are going camping or hiking, you are heading into the wild and there is a good chance that there might not be cell phone service. Get a paper map and learn how to read it and not rely on your GPS.
- First Aid Kit: You are heading into the wild, probably for the first time, there are a thousand number of things that could go wrong so it’s better to be safe than sorry and carry a first-aid kit with you. Things you should consider to include are bandages, bug sprays, aspirins etc.
- Toiletries: A lot of people seem to forget that there are no bathrooms or toilets in the wild. Even though a lot of campsites now have their own showers and toilet, you still need to get your own toiletries. People who are planning to go on long treks need to be especially careful about this. If you are unsure of what toiletries you may need, head over to our Travel Toiletries collection to have a look around and see what you might need.
That should be all in terms of camping/hiking equipment. If you feel like that is all too much to remember then you should check out our Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist to ensure that you have got all the things that you need.
4. The Other Essentials: Cooking Equipment
A big part of camping is sitting around a campfire with your loved ones munching on food and talking about the things in life. These are some essentials that should not be forgotten if you want the complete camping experience:
Stove, Fuel, and Firestarter: Now now, I said sitting and eating around a campfire not cooking on it. While some people do cook on a campfire, most of you’ll prefer having your own cooking equipment and stove. A hiking gas burner with a gas cylinder will probably suit you just fine and keep the weight to a minimum while a gas stove lighter will work best to start the fire. This could cost you around A$40-120 depending on what items you decide to use. Please note we only sell the burners (no gas cylinder for now).
What's in our Camping Store:
Camping Pots and Pans: If you are camping then you can just use the utensils that you use at home as they are easy to store in a car. However, if you are planning to go on some long treks, you’ll need other cookware which is more efficient and lighter in comparison.
What's in our Camping Store:
Camping Cutlery Sets: Same as above, you can just use household cutlery but if you are planning to go hiking, you need lightweight cutlery which is made for hiking. They usually are specially designed to be compact when packed, saving packing space & thus making packing easier.
Again, if you feel like you can’t remember all of these things, just make use of our Ultimate Camping Checklist and you won’t have to forget a single thing. On the other hand, if you are looking for some easy to make and delicious recipes, check out articles on Breakfast Ready in 15 Minutes and Snack Attack
5. Practice Camping
For first-timers, camping can be very intimidating. A fun way to get accustomed to camping is by holding a mock camping session in your backyard or any other area near your house that permits camping. It’ll help you judge all the things that you’ll need while camping and ensure that you don’t forget anything.
6. Doing the Deed!
When you are ready and have reached the camping site. You’ll need to ensure that you pitch your tent in an area where the ground is even and clear of any debris that could cause damage to your tent. A good tip to note is that putting the back of your tent towards the wind will give it more stability. Make sure you peg it into the ground around 45 degrees. More than 45 degrees will result in the peg not buried deep enough and any lesser can result in the rope slipping off the top.
7. Ending Thoughts
Camping for beginners can be an exciting and memorable experience if you do it right. Make sure to read through thoroughly and we can guarantee that your first camping trip will be a blast! Share some of your first time camping stories with us in the comments section below or subscribe to our newsletters for amazing new camping products and discounts.
Novapro Sports is an online camping store that caters towards camping & hiking outdoor enthusiasts, offering quality ultralight camping & hiking gear at low prices without the unnecessarily high markups, and providing information & tips on outdoor activities & adventures.