Jul 13, 2015

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Going Camping? Tips for Picking Out Supplies

If you’re planning a camping trip, there’s a good chance you already know the basics of what you’ll need: a tent, a sleeping bag, and a backpack. However, once you start looking into getting these supplies you may be surprised to learn just how many there are to choose from.

camping tips

To help point you in the right direction, let’s take a look of some of the different categories and features you may experience on your search.

Picking Out a Backpack

Backpacks are great not only for packing supplies you’ll need at your campsite, but are also essential if you plan on taking hikes during your trip. Camping and hiking packs comes in several different sizes and are usually defined as day, multiday, or expedition packs. You may also see bags defined by the amount of liters it can hold or pounds it can carry.

If you plan on just setting up camp and not venturing too far from that, a day pack  should do the job. However, if you intend on taking you sleeping bag and tent with you on your hikes, you should explore options in the multiday and expedition pack range depending on how much gear you have. You may also find that an external-framed pack (much like the one’s you’d picture a Boy Scout carrying) can come in handy so you can clip on extra gear instead of trying to stuff it all into a bag.

Finding the Right Sleeping Bag

When looking at sleeping bags, you’ll likely see several “temperature ratings” on the packaging or descriptions. What these numbers means is that the sleeping bag will keep the average person comfortable if the temperature stays above that rating number. For example, if a bag has a temperature rating of 35 degrees, it should keep you warm if the outdoor temperature is above 35 (Fahrenheit).

For summer camping in most areas, this should work just fine. However, if you’re planning to go camping during the colder times of year or in particularly chilly parts of the country, make sure to pay close attention to these ratings. A good winter sleeping bag should be able to withstand subzero temperatures.

Choosing a Tent

Like the sleeping bags, tents can also be designed for winter or summer use. More commonly, however, the biggest question tent shoppers are faced with is how big of a tent they’d like. In addition to given actual dimension, many tents are labeled with the number of people it can sleep.

The “2 person” or “4 person” labels are really a guideline. Typically this calculation includes 15 to 20 square feet of room per person, so if you’d like a bit more space, consider going one size up. Another thing to consider is the amount of cargo you’ll be carrying. If you are going to be taking your tent(s) with you on the trail, if may make more sense to get one large tent as opposed to two smaller ones.

Putting Together a Checklist

Having a checklist of items you need is always a good idea. Checkout these tips from REI.


Getting all the right camping equipment can admittedly be a bit confusing at times. However, these basic guidelines should help point you in the right direction.

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