By the 'official' definition touched with a bit of my experience in this area, camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, most commonly a tent. It's a cut from everyday luxuries that we are used to taking for granted. It is a step to becoming closer to nature, to the simplicity of where we came from.
Camping isn't for everybody. A person needs to achieve a specific state of mind, a point of overcoming materialistic features and being ready to spend time without modern world addictions. I mean, you can go camping, it's not nuclear science but to completely enjoy its perks you need to prepare yourself.
Camping is joyful activity, very fluid, never the same. Every time you learn something new and the whole adventure is kinda different in a beautiful way. It implies a wide range of activities and approaches to outdoor accommodation. There are also different types of camping. Survivalist campers set off with as little features as possible to get by, while recreational vehicle travelers go equipped with their own electricity, heat and patio furniture.
Camping is often combined with hiking as in backpacking and accompanied by different outdoor activities like canoeing, climbing, fishing, hunting, trekking and so on.
To successfully start and complete your camping adventure, you will need some basic equipment. The more you're planning to get involved with camping the more details you will think of. Let's start with your shelter.
When going camping, most people buy a tent. If you're not sure yet if you're somebody who will enjoy camping, don't invest that much and borrow a tent. Now, tents come in all shapes and sizes. Among the most popular ones are the basic ridge tent, dome tent and quick-pitch tent. The basic ridge tent is remarkably stable and ranges from tiny one-person tents right up to large marquees. They are easy to pitch and while being the oldest still make excellent shelters today.
Their main disadvantage is in head height – even in the largest units, there's limited height in most of the tent. Dome tent, my favorite, is built with two flexible poles crossing in the middle giving a square dome, three poles a hexagon. The sides are more vertical so overall headroom is better across a wider floor area. Stability is better in smaller models.
Instant or quick-pitch models are made by a number of suppliers and are the latest in a range of tents that really do erect themselves. A long, coiled, sprung frame is permanently fitted into the fabric of the tent. By twisting the frame, the tent becomes a circular package. Unleash the spring - in some cases, you can do this dramatically by throwing the whole tent into the air - and the sprung frame turns the fabric bag into a remarkably elegant and practical shelter. Quick-pitch tents are not that convenient to carry unlike dome tents who folds really nicely, making a perfect fit for your backpack. For backpackers, this is really important.
Setting your tent is not that hard. For what it's worth, there are always written instructions to follow. It's important to find a good place for the tent, a flat surface at best, trying to hide from the possible wind. It's great if your tent door is looking towards East to fully enjoy dawn and sunrise. Make sure to use all the wedges to secure your tent. It's great if you have a thick sleeping mattress, that's when a flat surface is not that big of importance.
Before you go to sleep, make sure to show out all of the little visitors because there will be some. Try to keep your tent closed, at least mosquito web layer.
After you've set your tent, you will probably get hungry and crave for some typical camping food. For that, you will need fire. Making fire can be tricky if you came unprepared. First of all, find a good and safe place. Try to stay away from the woods and easily flammable objects. Collect the food. Use old tree branches from the floor and try not to unnecessarily hurt nature. After you've collected it, surround a fireplace with some rocks and start the fire. It's great to prepare some kindling to ease the fire making process.
After your fire is set, you can grill some sausages, roast mushrooms or marshmallows and prepare some tea. If you're not equipped at all, use wood to make roasting sticks and a plastic bottle to boil the water, it's really easy and you'll come back home more experienced. If you're scared of fire and don't want to overwork yourself buy a small gas bottle and prepare your food in a more convenient way.
Other important things to think about when planning to go camping include cold and mosquito protection among keeping your stuff dry and clean. To protect from mosquitos, try to use natural methods as lemon oil (or any form of lemon, they hate it) or marigold flowers. Of course, you can go chemical and use sprays or bracelets but let's prevent pollution here.
Remember, nights are colder than days. Make sure your sleeping bag is warm enough, if it's not, wear more clothes. Especially if you're staying close to water, that's even colder. To prevent yourself from walking in the wet shoes the next day, make sure to put your stuff inside the tent because of the dew. It's not very pleasant, believe me.
There are thousands of camping tools available around the internet that will improve your camping and move you towards so-called glamping but starting from scratches is the best! Build your camping routine, step by step.
When relaxed and prepared, camping can be amazing! For me, the best camping places are around rivers and lakes, to enjoy the occasional swim now and then makes it more fun but mountains and woods are really okay!
The most important thing is you're with your friends, ready to embrace everything camping brings!