Outdoor Living

First-time Camper? Don’t Make These Mistakes!

Jan 5, 2023

I'm Kristin and today, we're talking about mistakes that beginner campers make. So, I've basically gone from someone who had no experience to someone who actually takes women on trips for the first time where they're camping, backpacking, hiking. It's definitely become a deep love of mine and I wanna share with you today because I know a lot of people are very interested in starting to do the whole camping and backpacking thing. I just wanna share how you can do it safely, more effectively, and just have a better time without having to stress. Mistake number one is picking the wrong spot for your tent. For the most part if you're in an established campsite, they're already going to have spots for you to put your tent. So that's not necessarily something you need to worry about in that case, it's always really obvious what the spot is. But when it comes to camping on your own and you've gotta figure out the spot, be on a higher ground so that you're not getting absolutely soaked if water comes through. Also consider, is it going to be windy? Are there maybe rock shelters set up where you can put your tent there? Is it very exposed where if you do happen to have crazy weather, you're going to get totally clobbered? Are you next to a mountain that's pretty rocky? Because rocks could fall on you.


Are you under a tree? Make sure that you're not within like the zone if a branch could be falling on you. These are all just kind of safety precautions to keep in mind when picking the spot to put your tent because I'm trying so hard not to say pitch your tent because I have 13-year old boy humor. Pitch your tent at a safe spot. That's definitely the most important thing before we move on. The number two mistake that beginner campers tend to make is not prepping for the weather. I have done a lot of camping and backpacking in Patagonia where it is crazy windy. You never know if where you've chosen to do your camping is going to have similar weather. Mountains really have their own weather going on. You can't necessarily trust the forecast so it's really good to just be prepared for that. What I like to do is take rocks and wrap the strings that are on the outside of my tent around those rocks. If you don't have that, you can actually put rocks inside of your tent. If there's no rocks available, maybe you could tie it to a tree or just something where if it does get crazy windy, you're going to be okay. And while we're talking about the weather, you really wanna be prepared for the cold, too. So, getting through the night when you're a little bit too cold is really not very much fun. The best way to combat that is to have a sleeping bag that is not just rated for the comfort level. You want a sleeping bag that is made for the weather that you're going to encounter. They do get a lot more expensive as you go lighter weight and warmer. Just make sure that you're checking the part of the bag that tells you what the temperature range is. You definitely want to be not on the lower but the upper part of that. Third big mistake that beginner campers tend to make is leaving mad trace.


I talk about this in every video because it is so super important. Do make sure that if you don't already have a very obvious sort of established campsite that if it's up to you to pick your spot, you're picking a spot where it does seem like other people have camped before. The reason to avoid putting your tent down in any kind of vegetation or flowers or anything like that is you can kill them. Sometimes, believe it or not, they take hundreds or thousands of years to grow and really only one night to kill. So, do try to be careful in terms of where you're putting your tent. Also, consider what you're going to be leaving behind which should be absolutely nothing. In a lot of places, you need to pack out even your human waste with you. Make sure you understand whether or not they're going to have trash cans there for you, bear cans. These are all things to prepare for and read about ahead of time at your chosen campsite. So, again, most established campsites especially in U.S. national parks and probably Canadian national parks as well are going to have those facilities available to you. But if you are truly backcountry camping, you need to be entirely self-reliant leaving absolutely nothing behind. So, whatever you bring in, pack it out. That includes apple cores, crumbs, anything that an animal could eat because a habituated animal is often put down and that's not what we want. Number four mistake that beginner campers tend to make is underestimating your water needs. Not only do you need water for drinking but you often need it for cooking, you often need it for making that morning coffee.


I will actually pack extra water to have my morning coffee. I will take that extra weight. Make sure you understand whether there's a water source or not for you. Bring a purifier if it's going to be a river or lake or something like that. Definitely have a good understanding of what the water situation is going to be in your chosen camping area because if you show up underprepared, you could kind of get in the danger zone and that's never fun. You know, it's just nice to have enough water for all of your needs so that you're not rationing and stressing out. You probably wanna bring at least a liter and a half per person for full day of hiking. If not, a little bit more than that plus whatever you're going to need for cooking. The number five mistake that beginner campers tend to make is way overpacking or worse, underpacking. There's not that much you actually need to successfully camp. You need a tent, a sleeping bag, ideally a sleeping mat, one that is actually comfortable and I just learned this over the years that it is worth investing in an actually comfortable one. I have an inflatable pillow that I absolutely love and adore. Even after years of just trying to like bunch up my jacket and make that my pillow, no. It is worth it. It is worth it to get the blow-up pillow. When I say underpacking, what I really mean here is not bringing gear that's going to be suitable for the weather situation. You don't wanna have not enough tent stakes or wrong parts of the tent. So that brings me to the number six mistake that beginner campers make, is not checking your gear before you go or not knowing how to use it once you're there. You definitely wanna understand how to set up your tent. They're getting easier and easier with the way that they're made these days. They're pretty intuitive but if it's your first time ever camping, you'll at least want whoever you're borrowing from or whoever you're buying from to show you how to set the tent up before you get out there. Also, if you're borrowing the tent, make sure that it has all of its parts before you get out there because this is your shelter and you want it to work. it's also worth checking if there are any major tears or anything like that because then your waterproofness goes out the window.


You might not really know until you're in the middle of a rainstorm if you got a leaky tent. If you can at least avoid any major calamities check your gear before you go. That goes double for the air mattress because I have had to wake up in the middle of the night and repump my air mattress before because it had a leak in it. So, you can test that a couple days ahead of time so that you leave yourself time to obtain a new one before you go, but just making sure you have the gear you need. Bear cans are really important in many of the mountain ranges in the U.S. and Canada. Make sure that you have one of those. Make sure that you have ample fuel and that you know how to use your camp stove. Make sure that you have a water purifier if the camp is not going to be providing purified water. These are all things to really consider ahead of time so that you are truly prepared for your trip. I do also have a video on car camping where I talk about the best food that you can bring and how to prepare for something like that if it's more of a drive-up situation. You can check that video out after this one. I also have a checklist for you and that has everything you need to bring for a backpacking trip. It's got everything that I've been using for the past eight years and none of it is sponsored. It's all my genuine recommendations. So, I really hope this video helped you to hopefully not make some big mistakes that beginner campers tend to make. If there's any that you can think of, let me know in the comments below. I hope that you enjoyed this video. Share it with your friends. I've got a whole bunch of educational outdoor videos on this channel that you can watch. Tune in, subscribe so that you don't miss anything in the future and I look forward to seeing you next Wednesday. Bye.

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