When you first want to go camping there are a lot of questions that pop up. Especially if you don’t know anyone that camps or you didn’t grow up camping. It can be intimidating getting started. The great news is, all you really need is to love nature and be open to learning a few new things and you are well on your way to enjoying your first camping trip!

In this Camping Guide for Beginners not only will we answer some top questions about camping and give you great resources, but we also include a free downloadable packing list (scroll to bottom) to help get you set up for success!

Is Camping Safe?

There are a lot of things that factor into the safety of your camping trip. It’s important to start small on your first camping trip. We recommend staying at an established campground. These usually have water, toilets, and a camp host who usually has a lot of knowledge about the area! You can look up campgrounds in Colorado here. Camping at a campground allows you to camp with a bit more security. Another huge part of camping safety is knowing and understanding the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. Knowing these will help you have a better understanding of how to plan and prepare for your trip, respect nature, yourself, others, and the wildlife when you go out. Always be sure to tell someone you trust where you are going, that’s a huge one!

How do I cook my food?

If you are staying at an established campground, you will likely have a fire ring at your site. All you need is a pan (cast iron recommended), firewood, and some food to cook. You can buy firewood at any grocery store and most gas stations. We love this guide on the Smokey the Bear site for tips on how to start your fire!

What kind of tent do I need?

 Choosing the right tent can make a big impact on how successful your camping tent is. Choosing one too small can make for a sleepless night and choosing one too big might be more of a pain to set up and break down where you just don’t want to do it. This guide for choosing the right tent for you by REI is helpful! If you choose to car camp, then… you already have your tent! Just make sure you have something padded to sleep on, so you aren’t sleeping on a hard surface all night.

How do I stay warm at night?

This is always a big one for people and can make or break a camping experience. If you get too cold at night you might never want to camp again. There are a lot of tips out there regarding sleeping bags, layers, getting off the ground, keeping wind away, etc. We found that this blog by Amanda Outside has great info for quick tips on sleeping warm at night.

We highly recommend getting a base layer for sleeping at night. Even during the summer. It wicks moisture and allows your heat to get back into your body from your sleeping bag! We have great deals on base layers at the shop!

Where do I get water?

Whether you are staying at an established campground or wild camping it is always a good idea to bring more water than you think you might need and never rely fully on your campground to have what you need. There is a chance when you get to your campground it doesn’t have water like it advertised. If you are wild car camping you can bring an extra jug with you just in case. Another way to avoid running out of water is getting a gravity fed filtration system so you never have to worry about running out of water.

We have gravity fed systems at the shop!

How do I keep myself safe from bears at night?

Bear safety

When nighttime rolls around, ever twig that breaks or sound somehow always seems like a bear, doesn’t it? It can be the most unsettling thing about camping and can cause a sleepless night if you are worried all night. The Forest Service has an awesome printable information sheet with tons of tips for camping with bear safety in mind. Download it here.

What do I do while camping?

With our phones and entertainment at our fingertips it can seem a bit hard to find something to do during camping. Some of our favorite things to fill the time with are go for a hike or explore the area, take pictures, play frisbee, stretch or do yoga, play a card game, practice sitting or meditating, hangout by the river, share stories, etc. It usually takes a person about 45 min to fully integrate into nature and find things to do. If you need more ideas Sun Outdoors has a ton of ideas on their website.

What else do I need to know?

 Failure is a part of it:

It’s so important to know that failing is and will be a part of the process. Whether it is your first-time camping or your 25th time. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and something you have to bail and drive home. Be patient with yourself and do what is best for you and your safety. Never stay because you think you need to push yourself to be a “pro” camper. Follow your gut.

Have fun:

Don’t forget to take a deep breath, smile, run around like a kid and enjoy nature. Camping can seem serious, but it’s also meant to be a lot of fun. So, get yourself set up and then have yourself some fun times!

You don’t need pro gear to have a good camping experience:

The cost of gear can seem daunting. We are here to say that you don’t need brand new, shiny gear to have a great camping trip. A lot of people acquire their gear over years of camping or get old gear from a friend or family member. We don’t think the cost of gear should be a barrier between you and getting outside. So be sure to check out our shop and all the high-quality used gear we have!


Ready for dispersed camping?

Check out our blog about dispersed camping in Colorado!