Camping Tips for the Beginner to Overnighting in Nature

Camping Tips for the Beginner to Overnighting in Nature

Camping tips can be very useful, especially to the total beginner who wants to enjoy overnight trips off grid. Unlike some commercial campsites that have amenities and close proximity to towns, camping in nature will take you to places that are too far from the shops if you forget to bring toilet rolls, cooking oil or some other important item. The tips below will help you plan a successful and enjoyable camping trip in the outdoors.

If you are just starting out, you may not have any of the camping gear yet. Before going out to get some gear like tents, stoves and so on, you need to decide what you will need first.


How many of you will be sleeping in the tent? Will you be alone or are you having your family with you? If you are planning on two persons in a tent, then you need to get a 4-man tent. A 2-man tent will allow 2 people to lay down side by side without much space to move. A 4-man tent will be more comfortable and will allow space for your bags and other valuables. Always buy tents with a bigger capacity that the number of people you want inside the tent.

 Some tents require some time to set up. Pop-up tents set up in seconds but are more expensive. Tents are usually fully covered to protect from the rain, but they also trap heat and makes the inside of the tent warm. An alternative is to sleep in the open on camp-beds with a tarp overhead for shelter. You can enjoy the cool and fresh night air, as well as keep an eye on the campsite. Adding a mosquito tent on the camp-bed will protect you from the mosquitoes and other bugs.

Another option is to sleep in hammocks. They are very convenient to pack and carry. Hammocks can come with or without mosquito netting, or with a flysheet as an option or bundled.

Chances are that. If you are new, you would feel safer sleeping inside a tent. When you get used to sleeping in nature, then you may want to consider the other two options.

Camping Chairs/Table

You will also need a good camping chair to sit on, as camping should be fun and comfortable. You will not enjoy sitting on a tree trunk or a rock for long periods. Test out a few camping chairs until you find one that you like. Your cooking should preferably be done on a table rather than on the ground. The table should not be too small that you cannot put more than one stove on it. It should be easily disassembled for portability, but sturdy enough for your cooking.

Tarps/Fly-sheets and Ground-sheets

Weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Setting up fly-sheets of tarps over your sleeping or cooking area will protect you from the rain. A ground sheet will keep the walking area dry and free from mud.


You will need ropes to set up your tarps as well as provide a line for drying your wet clothes. Sometimes, you will come across campsites that are on a much higher ground with a steep slope leading to a river. A rope can be tied to form a hand rail for moving to and from the river. On certain occasions, you may need to cross a fast-flowing river. Tying a strong rope around the waist and having your buddies hold on to the other end, will make your crossing safer. If anything happens, they will be able to pull you to safety.

In my experience, you can never have too much rope. You should get ropes of different thickness and lengths in case you have a use for them on your camping trip.


There are a number of things you need to look out for when selecting a campsite.

Firstly, try to find a site that is fairly flat. It will be quite uncomfortable sleeping on a ground that is slopping or uneven.

Avoid any ground that is next to a slope. When it rains, water will rush down the slope and into your campsite. If you cannot avoid it, dig a drain to divert water away.

It is good to camp under trees as they provide shade and keep the campsite cool. But, be on the look-out for rotten branches or trees. Strong winds or heavy rain may cause the branches or tree to fall on your tents or vehicles.

This next point is very important. Never camp too close to a river, especially in hilly areas. When it rains, the water will rush down from the hills and cause flash-floods. Water levels can rise within minutes and overflow the banks, washing away everything in its path. We have seen cases where even cars have been washed away. If you decide to camp just next to a river and it rains during the night, things might turn bad very fast. Always camp on higher ground when next to a river. Look out for mud on the sides of the banks as an indicator of just how high the water level has risen in the past.

Sleeping bags, Air Mattresses or Air Pads

As with most camping gear, the choice you make will depend on how you intend to get to the camping spot. If you have a car, you will be able to carry more gear than compared to if you are hiking, or on bikes. Sleeping on an air mattress is probably the best option, especially if the ground surface has rocks, stones or protruding roots. Sleeping bags are great for soft level ground or on camp-beds. You may even want to bring an air pillow and blankets if space allows.

Cooking equipment

If you are hiking or on a bike, you may want to cook over a campfire. Problem with this is that, when it rains, the wood would be wet and difficult to burn, or you may not be able to even light a fire. There are many portable gas stoves being offered on the market specially targeting towards hikers. They are small and easily fit into a backpack. If you have a car or 4WD vehicle, then you may prefer to get a bigger portable stove as it will be more stable for most types of cooking, even when cooking for large groups.

You may need a frying pan, a pot, and even a kettle for boiling water. The utensils you carry will depend a lot on the menu for the trip. You may even get a portable BBQ like most campers do for convenience in cooking meals. Just light the coals and throw the meat on the grill.

You will also need a good sharp knife for cutting meat and vegetables, as well as a cutting board, ladles, tongs as well as forks and spoons. A cooler box is important for keeping the food cold on long trip, and a water container for carrying drinking water is a must.

Other gear that you should include in your arsenal are, a machete (parang), a shovel, head lamps, battery operated lights, and probably a pop-up shower tent that doubles as a toilet tent, if you have women and children on your trips.

The above covers almost every camping gear that a beginner would need. Now let’s move on to how you would plan for your camping trip.

Know Your Campsite

Try to get some information about the venue that you are going to. This information will help you plan what you need to bring, for instance, if there is no river or other water source, you need extra water for baths and washing your cooking utensils, plates and so on. If the place is open without any trees, then you need to plan on how you are going to setup your flysheet.

A week before your trip, start a checklist of what you need to bring. Do not write your checklist the day before, as we have a tendency of forgetting stuff until maybe a day or two later. A trick is to imagine you are actually at the campsite and performing a task, e,g, setting up your tent. You need your tent, the stakes and strings to anchor the tent down, a ground sheet, tarp and ropes. You need a rope to lay your flysheet over and at least 4 others to secure the corners. Or, if you are planning the cooking gear and ingredients, go through the recipe for ingredients you will need for each individual item on the menu, then imagine the cooking process. You need a stove with gas, a pot for the soup you will be cooking, oil to fry the aromatics and meat, a ladle to stir everything, and salt to give taste.

By applying this method, I find that there is less chance to miss out anything. But as the days get closer to your trip, you will tend to remember some things you may need.

Remember to bring along a first aid kit that is stocked with everything you will need, such as bandages, plaster and antiseptic cream or lotion. You should also include medicines for headaches, fever and stomach upset. An antihistamine helps in the case of an allergy.

Trip Menu

Camping does not mean that your menu should be just instant noodles or sandwiches. You can have great dishes as long as you plan your menu well. On our trips, we have had menus that include chicken curry, spaghetti, roast chicken, smoked duck, beef stew, shepherd’s pie, BBQ, and even seafood like crab curry, fried calamari, butter prawns and such. The trick is to select menus where you can do most of the preparation at home before the trip. For example, if you want to have spaghetti, you could prepare the sauce at home and freeze it. Then when you are ready to serve, just boil the pasta and heat up the sauce. Or, if you are making curry, you could fry the curry paste at home, freeze it and heat up at the campsite. Then you could add the meat, potatoes and water and leave to boil. Meat could be cut at home, washed and placed into plastic bags before freezing.

You don’t want to spend all your time preparing and cooking meals. Doing most of the work at home will leave you more time to enjoy yourself on the trip.

Packing Before a Trip

When you are packing, go through your checklist and check off each item that you pack into a container or bag. I understand that certain foodstuff has to be left in the fridge until you are just about to leave. Do not check off these items until you have physically taken them out and placed into the cooler box you are taking on the trip. Chances are that you may forget that they are in the fridge. I have made that mistake before, a long time back.

Camping in the outdoors with nature is the thing I look forward to the most these days. I have been doing it for the past 46 years and I never grow tired of it. It’s a wonderful activity that lets you appreciate the wonders of nature. You breathe fresh air, swim in cool, clean water in the rivers, get a chance to see the wonderful creations of nature in terms of the flora and fauna, as well as forget all the stress that exists in your normal lives. If you have never tried camping, you really should give it a try. Remember to bring along trash bags to take out your rubbish. No rubbish should be left behind.

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