You don’t need lots of equipment to get started when you are outdoors camping - a tent, sleeping bag, mattress and a gas stove and table for the camp kitchen and enough gear to keep you warm at night.
Getting a good night’s sleep can either make or break a camping trip and there are a few things you can do to make your night comfortable. Firstly, look at the time of the year and what the weather is going to be like.
1. If it is winter and cold, bring lots of warm bedding such as a good quality sleeping bag and bring extra layers.
2. Ensure your sleeping bag isn’t too big as it is harder to warm it up and you may wish to join two sleeping bags together (they need to be the same style with left and right zippers) if you wish to share.
3. Take thermals to sleep in and warm woolen socks to keep your feet warm.
4. Think about your mattress, as airbeds can be cold as they don’t insulate from the ground and there is a large amount of air in the mattress, which can absorb body heat. Options such as self-inflating mattresses, stretchers or closed cell foam mattresses are available but work out what your budget is, what will fit in the car and what you find comfortable to sleep on.
1. Mattress choices are the same as for cold climates however an air mattress may be an option as keeping warm is not such an important factor. If you have an air mattress, you will need a pump and perhaps a repair kit if you get a puncture. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep on a bed that deflates and leaves you lying on the ground.
2. Sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners or sheets are a good option for when it is warm. If it is really hot, think about taking a lightweight sheet or muslin cloth you can soak in water and drape over yourself. A slight breeze or a 12-volt fan can work quite well to keep the heat away.
3. If you don’t have a sleeping bag, a doona or blanket from home is an easy option.
Tents are probably the most affordable and easiest form of shelter on the market but there are plenty of alternatives available such as swags, hammock, roof top tents, camper trailers or caravans or if you want to rough it, perhaps just a mattress under the stars or erect a tarp between two trees.
Tents vary in price and this depends on the quality of the tent and the purpose it is designed for. Lightweight, hiking tents designed for use in the snow are going to be a more expensive than a tent designed to put in the car and be used a couple of times a year.
For ideas on how to set up your tent, have a look at the video and notes ‘how to set up a tent’ in the next section.
I like to keep my food options simple when camping as playing with the kids is a priority and we are always out doing things so I often prepare in advance. I make extra pasta sauce or curries and freeze them before I go. They are great as a cooler brick if you have an esky and only going away for a couple of days.
Freezing water bottles to put in the esky are useful for keeping your food cold and you can drink it when it defrosts. Bring food, which does not requite a lot of refrigeration if you do not have the capacity to keep food cold for a few days such as tinned food or dehydrated food and fruit or vegetables such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears or root vegetables. UHT milk is a decent alternative to fresh milk, as you only need to keep it cold once it is defrosted.
Think about what cooking options you have and if the food you are bringing is suitable for your trip. Be careful if you are relying solely on cooking on a campfire as you may have a total fire ban, there is no wood available or perhaps fires are not permitted where you are camping.
Look at ‘How to set up a camp kitchen” for simple ideas on the gear you need to take with you to get cooking.