If you love nature, and you like socializing and adventure, but comfort is not a “make it or break it” factor, then camping is the right thing for you. The first camping guide came out more than a century ago and ever since then, this way of recreation has become more popular. Thousands of people who spend their free time and vacation this way are joined every day by many more, who want to experience the charms of camping. They want to check if coffee is really so much tastier when overlooking an emerald lake; if beans are yummier if combined with the smell of pine trees; or if you will better remember the holiday in a five-million-star accommodation, than in a five-star hotel.
However, this kind of enjoyment requires a fair amount of preparation and planning. You can’t do it on a whim, unless you have many years of experience. The laws of nature are clear, but also cruel. Any disrespect and disregard for them can bring certain consequences. It’s easy to drop into a hotel, order and pay for everything you forgot to pack. In the heart of wilderness, however, you can only rely on yourself, your skills and the things you brought with you. To avoid turning wonderful moments with family and / or friends into a total fiasco and maybe even bring yourself to the point of hating this kind of recreation, I advise you to get rid of the famous attitude: “I won’t think about it now, we’ll just figure it out when we get there.”
So, what’s required for spending time in nature?
The answer will largely depend on your habits and needs, but most of all on how many days you plan to spend camping; also on the season, location and means of transport. As camping means more than just mounting the tent, but requires resourcefulness and adaptation to the location, it is very important to make a good choice of equipment.
It’s an art to pack properly: it means not taking with you the whole house, but also not forgetting something. Don’t worry, expertize comes with experience. Below is a list of things which should not be forgotten, should you decide to go camping.
First and foremost – the tent. Nowadays there is a large selection of tents on the market: with tendrils, large expedition tents, with metal rods, small and light, the so-called “igloo”… The selection will depend primarily on how much you plan to spend, and on how often you plan to camp. If it’s twice a year, take an “igloo” which is designed for moderate temperatures and is fairly affordable. It is easy and quick to mount, it is light and costs around a thousand dinars, and it meets all the basic needs. However, if camping has gotten under your skin and you want to do it several times a year and in different weather conditions, look for a better solution. Here we have the rule ” there is no such thing as a free lunch”, so be prepared to give a fair amount of money for a renowned brand, offering a guarantee of quality, functionality and durability. The main parameters for purchasing a tent are: weight, size, structure and price.
Sleeping bag and mat
You can never find an ideally flat terrain in nature. There’s always a stone, root or the like below your tent. Practical and lightweight mats solve the problem of back pain and allow for a pleasant sleep. Nights in nature can be cool, so a sleeping bag is needed, and if it’s warm, you can always use the bag as an extra mat.
Dishes and food
An essential part of equipment is cutlery. Many beginners make the mistake of opting for plastic accessories that are easy to break. A better choice are aluminium dishes that are light, practical and allow cooking on the fire. If you decide to bring cans with food, do not forget the can opener. It is also a good idea to bring a cup and a plate. Keep in mind that there are specialized 2 in 1 or more-in-one products for this purpose, such as a Swiss knife, spork, etc.
A good backpack is not cheap, but when you realize that you need to take several kilograms of equipment, withstand all weather conditions and cross tens (or rather hundreds) of miles, you will realize that this is a smart investment. In addition to comfort and quality, it should also have adequate space, especially for multi-day tours, a sufficient number of pockets and bulkheads (never too many of those), some rope, hooks and similar accessories to mount the tent, etc.
GPS, map, compass
If you are planning to camp in unmarked ravines and forests, I advise you to equip yourself with a map, compass and GPS device that will be of great help to you. You should learn to use them before embarking on an adventure. But if you plan to make your first camping steps in a well-marked and explored territory, you can buy them later.
Wardrobe is definitely chosen depending on the season, but always take at least something with long sleeves and extra socks – because nights in the forest can be cool, but also as an additional protection from insects. I advise you to take a spare set of clothes, as it can rain unexpectedly, despite the weather forecast.
Other or useful things
As time passes, you will become more experienced and you will know exactly what your surplus is and what you forgot the previous time. Whether it’s allowed to light a fire or not, take a small gas bottle that’s convenient for making coffee or do some light cooking. It is important to note that you should NEVER use a gas bottle in the tent. In addition, do not forget the pocket flashlight, lighter, anti-insect spray, mini first aid with elementary supplies and a few tools (primarily a small hammer), as they can be very useful.
I hope this mini guide will be useful. It may be a good idea to start with some more “urban” locations, with kitchens, showers, and so on, until you get the hold of it. Only after that you can try real camping in untouched nature. Here is a list of organized camps across Europe, maybe someone will find it useful. https://www.campercontact.com/en/.