10 Most Common Camping Mistakes
Everyone has to start from somewhere, and this post absolutely is a head start! It can be intimidating leaving the comfort of your home but the world has a lot to offer and one of the best ways to discover yourself is away from the noise.
Don't worry if you're a total camping noob--it's not as hard as it looks! All you have to do is avoid the following rookie mistakes and you'll be fine:
MISTAKE 1: NOT TESTING YOUR GEAR. ALWAYS test your camping gear before you head out on a trip. Set it up in your backyard for an impromptu overnight camping session to ensure the tent, sleeping bags, lanterns, and other gear is working right. If necessary, replace anything broken, ripped, or improperly functioning.
MISTAKE 2: NOT KNOWING YOUR DESTINATION. Research the campground or trail where you will be spending the night. Spend a few minutes searching Google and Yelp reviews to find out if there's electricity, water, and dedicated camping locations available, or if there are parts of the park to be avoided. Knowledge is power and safety!
MISTAKE 3: BUDGET BUYS. While it's always nice to find a good deal, camping gear isn’t the place to skimp. Make sure to get reliable, high quality gear that you know how to operate and can rely on. The last thing you want is a tent that leaks or a sleeping bag that fails to keep out the cold!
MISTAKE 4: NOT BRINGING A GRILL. It's fun to sit around a campfire and grill your own food, but that will get old after a few days of struggling to set up a proper cookfire. It's much simpler just to bring your own portable grill, either charcoal or gas. Even just having the shell and grill will be enough to streamline the cooking process.
MISTAKE 5: OVER-BUYING GEAR. Do you really need that professional-grade tent or mountain climber sleeping bag? If you're doing some weekend camping, the answer is probably not. Don't buy the best, highest quality items in the shop. Stick with practical, utilitarian gear that gets the job done.
MISTAKE 6: PACKING TOO MUCH. Whether too much food, too many changes of clothing, or too much gear, over-packing can turn a camping trip into a constant hunt for "that one more thing". It can also overload your pack and make cleaning up after yourself a nightmare. Our checklist (see the next section) will tell you everything you need to bring to help you avoid over-packing.
MISTAKE 7: BEING COLD. You can't control the temperature, but you can certainly control your response to cold weather! With a good sleeping bag, mattress/pad, and a nice tent, you have nothing to fear from the elements. If you're cold, it means you didn't buy the right gear!
MISTAKE 8: FORGETTING LIGHTING. The light of a campfire will only cover so much ground, and you'll have to go into the woods in the dark to use the bathroom, gather more firewood, or walk to your tent at some point. So always make sure to have two or three more sources of light (flashlights, lanterns, even cell phones).
MISTAKE 9: ARRIVING LATE AT NIGHT. Unless otherwise avoidable, always try to arrive early in the day. Pitching camp in the dark is very difficult, so do it first thing in the morning when the sun is high and visibility is at 100%. If you're traveling to a popular camping space, you may arrive late in the day to find there are no spots left for you to camp.
MISTAKE 10: LEAVING OUT FOOD AND RUBBISH. Make sure to hang any food and garbage high in a tree where bears, foxes, and other scavengers can't get at it. It will save you a lot of cleaning up and will help you to keep your campsite as clean as possible.