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Camping essentials for first time campers

Camping is a fantastic way to connect with nature. Camping is the ideal escape from the stresses of everyday life, and with some preparation and good planning, it can be an unforgettable holiday. The great outdoors has everything you might want, whether you want to unwind on a few weeks’ vacation or take the family on an exciting weekend away.

Whatever the case may be, there are a few camping gear essentials that can increase your comfort and some things that a first time camper need to be aware of.

There is no right or wrong way when you are planning a camping trip and the greatest method to learn if you’ve never gone camping is to just do it. Although there might be a few hiccups along the way, it’s vital to keep in mind that things rarely go according to plan when you go camping. Expect the unexpected and that is all part of the fun and adventure.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are planning your first camping trip.


Your tent will turn into your temporary home and should offer the necessary protection against the weather. A good night’s sleep depends on having a sturdy, well-insulated tent. Consider the weather to choose a tent that either retains cold air inside or traps heat.  Your choice of tent will be influenced by how long your camping vacation will last, and how you’ll be spending your time.

A lightweight tent that fits neatly into a backpack is ideal if you have to hike back and forth to your location. However, if you plan to camp at a drive-up site and stay there for a few days, you should invest in a bigger, heavier tent with more room and perhaps even more comfortable facilities.

If this is your first camping trip stick to a tent that is simple to unfold and set up. Try a trial run at home before leaving on your trip to ensure that everything is working and that you know how to pitch your tent. There is nothing worse than arriving at your camp site and setting up the tent takes hours with tempers flaring up.

Sleeping comforts

Choosing the correct sleeping bag is another crucial necessity. As with choosing a tent, the type and size of sleeping bag you’ll want will vary, depending on where you’re camping and what the weather forecast is like. 

You’ll want to consider the time of year you’re camping and what the temperature is going to be like, especially at night. If your camping close to water the chances are that the nights will be quite chilly. Even hotter climates can get very cold at night, so you’ll want a sleeping bag with good insulation. Multi-season sleeping bags are always a good choice as they are specifically designed to keep you warm.

What you are going to put your sleeping bag on will also determine whether you will have a comfortable night’s rest. Make sure you sleep on a comfortable stretcher, sleeping pad or inflatable matrass.

A pillow is the last necessary item for a good night’s rest. This is one amenity that is easily overlooked and forgetting to take one along, results in using clothing that you bunch up as makeshift pillows.

Camping chairs and table

A table and camping chairs are crucial items when camping. A simple foldable table and chairs will suffice. You could sit on a log or rock, or even better string up a hammock, but good, sturdy foldable chairs are just more practical.  

You may splurge on chairs that either extend out and have leg rests or come fitted with cup holders, and the choice is yours depending on how fancy you want to get. Remember, you want to relax, read a book or sit and talk around the camp fire. It is a good idea to have a comfortable chair.

Mugs, plates, and eating utensils

Your camping crockery and cutlery should be durable and easy to clean. Be sure you have a fork, knife, spoon, teaspoon, plate, bowl, mug and glass for every person camping with you. Also remember the cooking utensils that you will need.. An egg lifter, bread knife and board, small sharp cutting knife, dishing up spoons, a tin opener and vegetable peeler, should be sufficient. Don’t forget the braai utensils and cork screw.

When camping most of your meals will probably be prepared on the fire, but you will need a small and medium pot (that can also be used on the fire) and a pan. 

If not cooking on the fire you should invest in a bottle and cooker top or skottel braai. Today, there are also a variety of portable stoves available on the market to make camping a whole lot easier. Don’t forget the kettle.

Most camping places have a place to wash up your dishes, but if not, remember a medium tub for washing and rinsing.


Most camping sites will have lights on the terrain but you will have to bring your own lights to put up in your tent. You can’t just rely on the campfire for lighting once the sun has set. You don’t want to be stumbling around in the dark if you need to leave the tent to use the bathroom, especially after the fire is out and you’ve gone to bed.

In addition to being small and incredibly portable, headlamps are a good choice as it also makes it much simpler to move around the campsite at night or even just to relax in the tent and read. Small camp lamps are useful for lighting the tent body or an outside table.

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