So You Want to Go Camping?

Quarantine has been hard. We can’t go to our typical restaurants, breweries, or events. So you’ve decided you’re going to get out there one of the only ways you can…by braving the wilderness. But are you really ready? Do you know how to fight a bear, hike vertically up a mountainside, or turn a tree into a shelter? No? Okay, so none of those things are actually necessary, because if you’re like me, “camping” means driving your car to a campground, setting up a tent, and driving back into town for a delicious veggie burger. But even in that case, you need to be prepared for your weekend spent amongst the birds (or in Wisconsin’s case, the mosquitos). I’m going to lay out the basic items you’ll need, how to prepare, and how to be comfortable enough while sleeping in the outdoors.

Side note: if you’re more of a listener than a reader, check out this informative podcast from NPR’s Life Kit.

I am not a camper. I far prefer indoor plumbing and air conditioning. But even I got sick enough of being stuck indoors to resort to camping. I went camping for the first time in a few years and figured I would share what I learned with you! Don’t make my mistakes. (WEAR BUG SPRAY)

Below is a list of things you’ll need to do basic car camping. And before you spend hundreds of dollars stocking up on things you’ll only use once, ask friends if they have equipment you can borrow, or try out a gear lending program, like REI.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad (I used an air mattress)
  • Sleeping bags & pillows
  • Bug spray or bug repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels (beach and/or bath)
  • Chairs
  • Lantern
  • Alcohol

Depending on how far from civilization you’ll be, you might also need food and cooking equipment (such as a camping stove, gas, table, firewood/fire starter, cooler, plates and utensils, etc) For a far more intense and thorough list, check out REI’s camping checklist.

How to prepare:

  • Check the weather repeatedly and prepare for anything (meaning bring rain gear & warm and cold clothing)
  • Make sure all of your equipment (or the equipment you’re borrowing) is ready to go. You might want to set up the tent in your backyard first to ensure you have all the stakes/poles/tie-downs needed, and check for any holes or tears.
  • If you’re going on a road trip, make sure to do basic maintenance on your vehicle before you head out (oil change, check tire pressure-including on your spare tire!)

Lastly, please don’t forget to stay safe while you’re traveling. Stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands, and wear a mask!

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