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Top Twelve Essentials for Your First Time Camping Trip

By Edited Aug 20, 2014 3 8

Many factors will decide the result of your trip whether it is for a weekend or a week; you need to make a plan. Then consider some important factors before attempting your first time camping trip other than the excitement getting out there.

Whether you go with a group or the family you still need to plan and of course decide where you will go.  Camping by the river, near the ocean or in the outback.  Different types of camping require different plans and camping gear.

Poor planning is often the cause of many disappointing camping trips. It takes more than throwing the swag in the back of your vehicle and deciding to go camping beside a river and having fun with your mates. 

Camping essentials - Coleman tent

Coleman Tent

Planning your Trip

Before we get to the top ten essentials, I suggest, you should consider other things when planning your camping holiday first:

1. A checklist is an important part of ensuring that you take everything.

2. Learn more about your destination. Available facilities, camping fees, whether pets allowed if needed.

3. Check the weather report. Without the right equipment, it could be a disastrous trip if it rains. 

Camping Essentials - Wood Camp Fire

If you are lucky enough to have a camp fire when allowed, please make sure the fire is out before you leave that area.

Coleman 14x10 Foot 8 Person Instant Tent
Amazon Price: $163.60 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 20, 2014)
Even if there are 4 people this tent is ideal as it is simple and quick to setup with the pre-attached poles.
Its Weather Tec system with welded floors, eliminates crawlies from entering. This is also waterproof to keep you dry.
Plenty of windows that will let in the evening breeze yet keep out the mosquitoes.

The dividing wall which makes two rooms can be removed if preferred.

Choosing the right tent

Once you have, all that sorted out, you need to consider the more important camping essentials. This is my top twelve essentials on how to make sure you have a successful and enjoyable first time camping trip:

1. Choosing the right tent - The size of your tent will depend on several factors and personal choices:

a. Number of people - select one you can stand in, important when changing clothes.

b. One or two rooms – can you live in one room, or one room to sleep, one to store your gear.

c. An outside flap - is ideal when raining or very hot. It also gives you somewhere to sit and cook your meals undercover. You can even attach a flap to the back of your vehicle keeping you under cover, as you walk between tent and vehicle.

d. If backpacking - then you want the smallest and lightest tent available.

e. Ease of setup - and strong enough to stand up to bad weather, one with an attached floor helps to keep out any crawlies.

Buy the best tent that your budget can afford. Remember this will last for years to come. Always make sure it is waterproof and sturdy.

Sleeping Bags

Coleman Brazos Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag
Amazon Price: $38.99 $21.71 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 20, 2014)
Suitable for the up to 6 foot person with a quick pull cord system so no tying needed. Resistant to stains and Machine washable.

This sleeping bag is 100% Polyester and fill and comes with a 5 year manufacturers warranty

Camping gear

2. Sleeping bags and mattresses – Choose the best ones suited to your camping trip and comfort. If you feel the cold, then buy a suitable bag. Young people will love any kind of sleeping bag,  many of these now come with an inbuilt foam support.

You can buy sleeping bags with zips that open to join two bags together, making it easier for couples.

Blow up Mattresses – these make your sleeping hours more comfortable and come in different styles and thicknesses. Do not forget to take the pump or you will run out of breath trying to pump it up.

3. Lighting - is important poor lighting can result in accidents when cooking. These days, solar-powered lights save you money, because you no longer need a powered site. Some portable solar panels can sit on the ground or mounted on top of your vehicle. These will also come in handy to charge your phone or computer.

4. First Aid kit – This is essential when out camping. It is better to have one and never need it than not have one in an emergency.

  •  Band aids
  •  Insect repellent
  •  Cuts and burns ointment
  •  Small scissors
  •  Bandage
  •  Panadol or headache tablets
  •  Vinegar for stings
  •  In summer, beware of snakes. Take a pressure bandage
  •  Sling to immobilize arm 

136 pieces in this First aid Kit

Medique 40136 Multi-Purpose First Aid Kit, 136-Piece
Amazon Price: $34.58 $27.22 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 20, 2014)
This kit covers all aspects of travel, outdoors, work or at home and comes with 136 pieces. Included in this are scissors, eye wash, face shield,bilingual guide, sting relief prep pads, gauze eye pads, 2" round, antiseptic prep pads plus many other important items that will cover treatments for many home or camping emergencies.

Essential Camping Gear

5. Esky, cooler or Fridge - This can depend on how long you will go camping. An esky or cooler with ice should last two days. A fridge run from solar power is an ideal way to camp longer.

6. Cooking stove, utensils and paper plates - Gas stove are the most popular, use caution if using butane stoves. If no fire ban then a wood barbecue is ideal.

7. Folding table and chairs - You could probably make do with the vehicle tailgate for a table although a couple of chairs make life easier.

8. Washing Tub and washing liquids - If you are not near a river or water this will come in handy for cleaning up.

9. Suitable clothing – Pack light to suit the weather, do not take more than you need. If going in the summer months, rinse clothes out and they will dry overnight.

10. Food and drinks – Take noodles that you just add water. Tin food is best as no refrigeration needed. Even if you go fishing, you may have to buy your feed of fish that weekend,  or throw in the steaks and salads.

11. Above all, stay safe - If you do any type of water sport, fishing in a boat then prepare for it. Always take your life jackets and an emergency epirb beacon.

12. Have fun – Leave your troubles behind, and enjoy yourself by finding that sense of humor to keep you on track if problems do arise. 

Coleman Road Trip Charcoal Grill

Coleman RoadTrip Sport Charcoal Grill
Amazon Price: $79.99 Too low to display Buy Now
(price as of Aug 20, 2014)
This Charcoal grill is so easy to clean that you will can even use it at home or out camping. It is light to carry with collapsible legs. Just cook, clean and put away in no time.

The cooking surface is big enough that you can cook for the whole family or a few friends.

Other Camping Essentials

Other smaller essentials you may need:

  • Matches
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • Check that the gas bottle has enough gas
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Fishing gear
  • Tent pegs and ropes
  • Shovel- this will come in handy if no ablutions where you camp

Different types of camping trips need different essentials. Use your intuition and adjust your essential camping gear to suit your first time camping trip. Once you have done a few camping trips and the bones start screaming out for something more comfortable then a Caravan or RV may be more appealing for your next trip.  Although I would suggest you do your research before buying a caravan and save yourself some heartache.  

Note: If you are going into the outback then it is a good idea to have a Spot Messenger type of emergency beacon.   No one knows what will happen and if your phone is out of range or flat then one of these will come in very handy.

Conclusion: Remember to make out the checklist and add things as you think of them. Then tick off as you pack them into your vehicle. Have safe first camping trip and of course have fun. 


Spot messenger GPS satelite

SPOT 2 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange
Amazon Price: $169.99 $65.65 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 20, 2014)
If you ever become lost or break down in the outback then this little beauty could save your life or someone else's.
If you break down it has the ability to send a pre-selected person a message that you need help.
Or if there is a life threatening emergency there is another button that sends a message for help.Not only that you can track where you have gone we have done this plus your friends can always log into the web site and see exactly where you are, if you have activated it of course.Well worth the money and peace of mind.


Mar 19, 2014 8:58am
Checklists are a great idea for packing up to leave too. (Don't forget a manual can opener and corkscrew if bringing wine, etc). I bring baby wipes. Your advice to make sure that fires are thoroughly extinguished is so important. Pinned.
Mar 20, 2014 6:14pm
Thanks Rose, my mum and dad love traveling and see fires left going all the time. In fact one time their dog would not get in the car to leave and in the end he led them to a fire that was going and they put it out. Then he was happy and jumped up in the car. Gosh he's a smart dog, he is always protecting them and doing things for them. Titan is a blue heeler (Australian cattle dog) they are gorgeous. Thanks I forgot those items.
Mar 20, 2014 6:19pm
I did too (forgot them and had to find another man-servant to help me). I hate when that happens.
I'm not surprised at all that your parents' doggie Titan led them to that fire - and thank god (who knows how many lives he saved).
Take good care,
Apr 26, 2014 12:41am
Thanks Rose, I could write a book on the amazing things that he does he is truly incredible, and he does things himself with no coaching from us. He even growls if I get close to my husband or visa verso or it one of us raises their voice.
May 19, 2014 7:30am
A few years ago I'd turn my nose up at the idea of using a blow-up mattress under a sleeping bag, but these days I've come to appreciate such comforts! This is a great checklist for anyone setting out on a family camping trip.
May 19, 2014 9:17pm
Thanks Ruby. It is amazing the amount of comfort we can have when going camping or traveling in more style with a caravan. Sort of Home from Home.
Oct 6, 2014 10:01am
HI: Very helpful;l article and sound advise. I read it because I used to love camping and
did so throughout my youth in the Colorado Rockies. At my age I don't do that anymore but I sure have the loving and meaningful memories. 2 thumbs and a rating.
Oct 9, 2014 6:52pm
Thanks Marlando, I know that feeling. We do not camp or do it rough as too old now but still go away traveling in the caravan and love that life.
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