Getting Started with Camping

Maybe you haven’t been camping before – or maybe it’s been years since you’ve ventured into the woods. This getting started guide will get you pointed in the right direction.


Camping Doesn’t Have to be So “In Tents”

Alright, so there are different ways to “camp” and the definition of camping is generally pretty broad. Chances are if you are reading this you don’t own an RV or camping trailer. That’s good because if you did you are probably doing things out of order. Please return your RV, then read this, then re-buy your RV.

Here are some of the main ways that people go camping:

Tent

This is your quintessential cloth-like structure suspended over poles or rods. These are a cheap way to shelter in the wild and are a great way to test the camping waters. Tents range in size from one person to – well, a lot of people. Some even have separate rooms! Start small and if you enjoy tent camping don’t be afraid to upgrade.

RV

Motorized vehicle that comes in different classes. Class A looks like a bus, Class B looks like a van, and Class C looks like a shuttle. There is also a “Super C” class that looks more like an 18-wheeler. If you are a new or inexperienced camper we don’t suggest you jump right into RV ownership (or RV mortgage), but you could have a good deal of fun renting or joining some friends in theirs.

Trailer

Camping Trailers also come in different flavors. You have your “Travel Trailer” or “Bumper Pull” which is basically the normal trailer that hooks up to a ball in the bumper area of a towing vehicle like a truck or SUV. A “5th Wheel” or “Gooseneck” are two different styles that connect in the bed of a truck. These are generally bigger than the bumper pull type.

Cabin or Room

Its like a house, but smaller (usually). It may resemble home but we still consider it camping. Cabins range from a small room with a bed to fully furnished tiny homes with a kitchen and bathroom. Either way we can all agree – cabins are pretty cute. Cabins are a good way to try camping as they don’t require a lot of up-front investment.

If you are just getting started we suggest staying in a cabin, getting a tent, joining some friends, or renting an RV.


It’s Not Just Sleeping in the Woods

Going camping is more than just an intense urge and need to sleep somewhere other than your house. You must think we are a group of crazy folk. When you are out amongst the trees (or cacti, or glaciers, or rocks) there is a feeling of freedom and disconnection from the world that you just can’t get at the nail salon – as relaxing as that massage chair may be.

People camp for many reasons. Here is a much too lengthy list that you can read half of and skip to the next section:

  • …to enjoy the sun, breeze, and trees
  • …to cozy up with a loved one by a fire
  • …to show off your secret burger patty ingredient
  • …to reduce stress
  • …to be surrounded by no-one in isolation
  • …to get away from the city
  • …to escape COVID
  • …to give your pet room to run
  • …to enjoy the outdoors with friends
  • …to be naked outside
  • …to take photos of wildlife and scenery
  • …to get drunk and party
  • …to disconnect from technology
  • …to revitalize your relationship
  • …to remove distractions
  • …to improve your health
  • …to try it out and see if you enjoy it
  • …to put your bare feet on the earth
  • …to increase Vitamin D
  • …to reconnect with your wild side
  • …to exercise more
  • …to do outdoor activities
  • …to try new things
  • …to face your fears
  • …to save money
  • …to see the stars
  • …to make new friends that enjoy the same things you do, whatever that may be.

What to Bring on Your First Camping Trip

When you go camping you are more often than not leaving civilization as you know it and probably don’t want to forget any essentials. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list (we wanted to save that for another post so it looks like we post more). In no particular order aside from alphabetical – here is a list of things you should consider packing on your first camping trip:

[Click on a linked item to see our recommendation]

Air Mattress

Air Pump

Axe (Hatchet works)

Batteries

Beverages (You Know)

Binoculars

Boots

Bottle Opener

Broom and Dustpan

Bug Repellent

Bug Spray

Can Opener

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Cast Iron Skillet

Charcoal

Citronella Candles

Clothes (Appropriate for Weather)

Coffee

Cooking Spoon

Cooler

Cot (Click to see recommendation by member Bill Butler)

Cups

Dish Scrubber

Dish Soap

Dog Kennel (Tents are not very dog-proof)

Dog Leash or Tie Out

Dog Waste Bags (Do not need if you do not have a dog)

Duct Tape

Electric Fan

Extension Cord

Extra Battery Pack

Fire Starters

Firewood

First Aid Kit

Flashlights

Flip Flops or Sandals

Foil

Folding Chairs

Folding Table (Click to see recommendation by member James Ball)

Food

Food Storage Containers

French Press (Click to see recommendation by member James Ball)

Hammer

Headlamp (Click to see recommendation by member Michael Eastman)

Ice

Insect Bite Relief

Jacket or Hoodie (Just in case)

Knife

Lantern (Click to see recommendation by member Noel Freeman)

Lighter

Maps

Matches

Medication

Paper Towels

Phone Charger

Plates

Pocket Knife or Multitool

Potholder

Propane or Electric Burner (Click to see recommendation by member Danny Morris)

Rain Gear (It may be raining, and you may need to poop.)

Rope (Just in case)

Shower Shoes (If you get weirded out by public showers)

Shower Supplies

Sleeping Bag

Socks

Sunglasses

Sunscreen

Tank Top

Tarp (Just in case)

Tent

Tent Stakes

Toilet Paper

Tongs

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Towels

Trash Bags

Utensils

Water

Water Containers

Water Hose

Zip Lock Bags

If you want more recommended items we have a section of our site called “Our Favorite Things” where we list every product we see recommended by actual members. When thousands of brains work together we can make some pretty cool things I guess.

Note: We are an Amazon affiliate so any items purchased after clicking Amazon links generate commission for us. At least we are helpful about it.


Camping Terminology

You might see a few words or phrases out there that might confuse you. That’s okay – you’re cute when you’re confused. Let’s go over a few of the basics.

Camping – Just like the members of our group, camping has a lot of different variations from rustic to fancy and everything in between. Its generally understood as staying the night in a more natural setting, with the more rustic side of the spectrum being more “camping-like” and the more fancy side being more “glamping-like”. It’s all camping you damn purists.

Digital Nomad – Someone who works online and travels all the time. These people usually rely on fake backgrounds in Zoom meetings so their clients don’t know they are in a trailer.

Full-Timer – Someone who lives the camping life full time. They probably sold their house and got tired of city life or realized that camping is fun and didn’t want to stop.

Glamping – According to the ancient Latin form of the word, glamping is basically “Glamorous Camping”. Instead of cooking on a fire you might have a propane stove. Instead of trusting thin fabric walls to stand up to bear attack, you might have the cozy walls of a nice cabin.

Perm – You know that TV painter guy, Bob Ross? Well he would probably tell you that a perm site is a camping spot in a campground which someone leases out (or even purchases) long term.

Seasonal – Campgrounds up north generally only open up during good weather months and close during cold weather months. If you want to camp during a blizzard we can direct you to a Dairy Queen in the south.


Okay So Now What

You made it to the end of this blog post and you realize you didn’t really learn anything. That’s great! You didn’t really need our help. You know you can go to our Gay Friendly Campground Directory, click on the link to their website and contact them!

If you have any questions at all think of Gay Camping Friends as a group of thousands of mentors ready to help. Just post your questions on the Facebook page and you should get all the help and advice you need.

Let us all know how your camping trip went by posting some photos of your experience in the Facebook group or Discord server. Happy camping, friends!