You've accepted an invitation to go camping with a sense of bravado that your friends took for enthusiasm, but the truth is you've never spent a night in the great outdoors in your life. While you don't want to come off as a total greenhorn, you want to make sure that your first experience with camping is safe and comfortable too. Before you pack up your gear and hit the trail, check out these tried-and-true tips from seasoned campers.
Even beginner campers know that a first aid kit is essential when heading out into the wild, but make sure that you pack non-emergency items that help keep you safe and healthy too. Sunscreen and insect repellent top the list. Wear a whistle around your neck, pack a flashlight, and don't forget your hand sanitizer.
It's Not a Fashion Show
Experienced campers will tell you that the number one mistake beginners make is packing too many clothes. The less weight that you have to carry on your back, the better. Bring a minimal amount of lightweight clothing that you can layer on as needed. Sturdy but comfortable shoes are a must.
Nothing spoils a camping trip faster than a poor night's sleep, and that makes a quality sleeping bag and sleeping pad a worthwhile investment. If you're not ready to shell out big bucks, however, raid your self-storage unit for things like tarps and yoga mats that you can layer under your bargain bag. Camping pros know that the ground can be colder than the night air when you're sleeping under the stars.
Practice Your Pitch
If you're splurging on a tent for your camping adventure, practice pitching it before the trip. At the campsite, orient the tent so that the entrance faces away from the wind, and build your campfire on the same side. You'll impress your camping buddies with your know-how, and you'll be more likely to enjoy your first night in the great outdoors.