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8 Things an Amateur Camper Absolutely Needs

8 Things an Amateur Camper Absolutely Needs

This story was first published on 28 November 2017 and was updated on 8 January 2019 by Leigh Hermon

So you’ve been invited on a camping trip, but you have zero experience with sleeping in the great outdoors…

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Fear not, for we have compiled this checklist of the basic components you need to make any camping trip a success.

This stuff is merely the beginning. While you’re out shopping for the items below, don’t forget to check out the thousands of camping gadgets available in store.

1. Tent

Seems simple enough – just go in and buy the cheapest one you can fit into. If only it were that simple.

First, you need to consider the kind of camping you’re going to do. Hiking with a 5-man tent strapped to your back isn’t going to be fun, nor is an extended stay next to the beach in a 1-man tent. Estimate how much space you’ll need, not just for you, but also for all the things you’ll be taking along.

Next, check the weather patterns of your destination and find a tent with the correct waterproof rating. Nothing will spoil your evening as thoroughly as being drenched while catching up on some much needed R&R.

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2. Camping furniture

The most important piece of furniture is a chair. 90% of camping is sitting around the fire with a drink in the one hand and braai tongs in the other.

A table is also nice-to-have, but not an absolute necessity.


3. Cooking and cleaning supplies

The basics you’ll need are braai tongs, bottle opener, fork, knife, plate and cup. Remember to pack a sponge and some dishwashing liquid. Most campsites provide a washing room where you can put the latter to good use.


4. Electrics

Yes, you’re going camping, but it doesn’t mean you have to be cut off from the rest of the world. It’s 2019, after all. Take a long lead to connect to the campsites electricity grid and remember to pack chargers for all your gadgets.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to Netflix and chill in a tent.

5. Sleeping stuff

This is probably the biggest mistake made by rookies. You wander into the store and buy the cheapest sleeping solution, which turns out to be a big mistake. Nobody wants to be pestered by a backache when they’re actually supposed to be relaxing before the new year kicks off.

Don’t buy one of those thin roll-outs that claim to be comfy – they aren’t. You need at least ten to supply anything remotely supportive and for the same amount of money, you could have invested in a high-quality blow-up mattress.

Also, remember to take a comfortable pillow and the correct sleeping bag for the weather conditions.

A beginners guide to buying camping equipment

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6. Black bags

You only realise how much rubbish you generate once you don’t have a garbage bin in your immediate vicinity. Campsites provide black bins, but it might be too far to walk for every little thing you want to throw away. Rather keep a black bag close to the campsite and throw it in the bin at the end of the day.

A word of caution, however. If you’re camping somewhere where baboons are a problem, rather just walk to the rubbish bin.

7. First Aid Kit

You never know what’s going to happen and there are many ways to injure yourself while camping.

Here’s what you should keep in your car’s first aid kit.

8. Flashlight

It’s hard enough to motivate yourself to get out of the tent at 2am in the morning to walk to the ablutions, and even harder if you can’t see where you’re going. A simple, cheap flashlight should be more than good enough for seaside camping, but consider a more expensive head-mounted unit if you’re going on a hiking expedition.

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