A Good Night's Sleep
While some intrepid campers enjoy sleeping under the stars, most prefer the shelter of a tent during camping trips. Choose a tent based on size, the season the tent is designed for and ease of setup.
The CDC includes a plastic drop cloth on its camping supplies checklist, and so should you. For maximum dryness and warmth, spread the cloth over the ground before setting up the tent. It keeps out dew and any lingering ground dampness for snug sleeping.
Inside the tent, cots or air mattresses provide welcome respite from the rocks and holes of the forest floor. Add a sleeping bag or blankets appropriate for the weather, and you'll wake up refreshed and ready for more outdoor adventure.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Campgrounds don't usually offer full-service restaurants, and some of the best camping memories are made around the cooking fire. To eat well on a camping trip, you'll need a few basic items.
An insulated cooler packed with ice will keep perishable food fresh, and the Partnership for Food Safety Education recommends that foods be chilled at a consistent 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Many campgrounds and parks do sell ice cheaply, so budget for at least one fresh bag daily. Secure nonperishable food in tightly sealed containers or bags to keep out curious wildlife and insects, and be sure to pack a little more than you think you'll need.
A camp stove is convenient for controlled cooking or in locations where fires are not allowed. These stoves are powered with small fuel canisters and range in size from tiny to large enough to cook several dishes at once.
For those who prefer the rustic flavor of cooking over an open fire, a Dutch oven is perfect for cooking almost anything. Made from cast iron, these sturdy pots have been used to provide generations of camping enthusiasts with hot and hearty meals. A cast iron skillet is great for frying and sauteing, and is heavy enough to stand up to the extreme temperatures of a fire. Buy sturdy cups, plates, and silverware just for camping, and bring along a large bowl or basin for washing up.
Finding Your Way
Even if you know the area you're camping in, pack a good map of the campground and a compass. You can bring along a GPS unit as well as extra batteries, but a map and compass are a great low-tech backup in case of equipment failure. Also, pack a flashlight for navigating in the dark and some extra batteries for it as well. Lanterns are great for use in the actual campsite, but nothing beats a lightweight flashlight for finding your way to the bathrooms or a secluded clearing in the middle of the night.
Because weather can be unpredictable, pack clothing that can be layered easily for temperatures that are warmer or cooler than expected. Include rain gear in case of wet weather; a poncho or waterproof jacket and pants will keep you dry in the event of heavy rains.