Tent first use
Take your tent outside with a camera and remove it from the main bag. Take a photo then unroll it and take another photo. Be sure to take a photograph at each stage of unfolding your tent. This will become valuable when it comes to packing away for real as it can be a right arse getting your tent in the bag if you have folded it wrong.
Practice in the garden
So you have a brand new tent? Sure it comes with instructions but let me tell you this as someone who has camped a lot. You can’t beat practice when putting up your tent. There is nothing worse than arriving on site with rain or wind and not knowing how to build your shelter. So put it up in the garden to make sure your comfortable, then practice taking it down and putting it away.
Plan your route and leave 30 mins earlier than you plan because there is nothing worse than trying to find a field when you’re in your car with a tired hungry family. Oh yea there is, putting your tent up in the dark is worse. Trust me this makes for a rather crappy start to your holiday don’t get caught out.
Find your inner hippy
Humans are not meant to be attached to phones so leave it in the car and leave any other technology at home. Use this time to go back to the wild. Embrace the outdoors, after all that is why you have decided to take a tent into a field in the first place isn’t it. If your site does not have electric hook up make sure you take a spare fully charged phone in case of emergency.
Dress for comfort not fashion
Comfort is the single biggest contributor to a bad camping experience. If someone has had a bad trip you can bet it’s down to being cold. So don’t waste time packing heels or your brand new white trainers because chances are you may get them ruined in the mud. If you’re going in the middle of summer still pack your layers and coats because the last thing you want when camping is to be cold.
Dressing for camping is all about layers you can take them off and put them on as you wish to regulate your body temperature for the different activities you are taking part in. For example if you’re climbing Mt Snowdon you will need to add your layers as you get higher. I have set off in blistering sunshine and got to the peak in thunder and lightning (Don’t get caught out).
It is OK to pack away your tent in the rain, If you camp out enough this will happen. However as soon as you have the chance; put your tent up and let it dry. The last thing you want is to pack down wet and forget about your tent for 6 months. If you do forget your best case will be a smelly tent but in the worse case it will develop mould and be ruined.
Do NOT get the cheapest sleeping system available a roll mat is OK if your young, fit and willing to sleep on the floor but an airbed or camp cot is essential for a good night sleep. To this end take a thick sheet to put over your bed this will offer another layer between you and the cold nights air.
Your sleeping bag is as essential as your tent because if you get the wrong one you’re in for a long cold night. When searching for a sleeping bag check to make sure it covers the season your going for. 3 seasons is summer, spring and autumn. 2 seasons are spring and summer. If you are feeling confident take a look at the comfort temperatures on the sleeping bag and decide if it’s likely to get that cold. Make sure you can fit in it; surprisingly they are not one size fits all. Finally on sleeping bags if you notice it says GSM on the sleeping bag this is grams per meter and relates to the density of the bag. Obviously the higher this number is the thicker stuffed the bag is and the warmer it will be.
Do not forget
- Lighting (Plus emergency torch and batteries)
- An extra blanket just in case
- Basic first aid kit
- Means to make fire plus spare lighter (Tea-light candles are great for starting fires)
- Washing up liquid and bowl
- Salt, pepper and sauces etc
- A tin opener – if you forget this you will know about it
- Duct tape – You will be surprised At the levels of repair this offers
- Things for the kids to do – Plan for a rainy day
- Spare socks – There is nothing worse than cold wet feet and no fresh socks
- Strong spare tent pegs
Other little tips
- Don’t let anything touch the sides of your tent, this stops water from getting in
- Make sure you pitch your tent on level ground, Any little dip will collect water
- If you’re not sure what to take then Go Outdoors have a great checklist