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4 Camping Basics for Newbies

So you’ve decided camping sounds like a great adventure. You’re off to the mountains to find awesome views and enjoy the fresh air away from civilization. Are you familiar with primitive camping basics for newbies? If you aren’t, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

It’s very easy to just buy a ton of stuff at your local outdoor shop and think you’re ready to head out. But take care. You’ll want to travel light, efficiently, and with self-sufficiency in mind. And that’s just the gear! There’s also some information you will find helpful — what you need to know about safety, planning, and practical needs. Keep reading to learn four primitive camping basics for newbies.

1. Basic gear

Do you have to have a tent? No. If you’re going by yourself or with a small party, you can each carry your own sleeping bag and tarp. It should be made out of lightweight synthetic materials such as waterproof polyester coated in silicon. This tarp is basically your shelter which will protect you from the wind, rain and falling debris from trees. You may also be making a small fire nearby to keep yourself warm as you sleep. Be prepared to attach the tarp to things such as branches of trees. 

This video covers a pretty comprehensive list of items you may want for primitive camping, with an explanation of why you would need each item:

To carry your gear, you will want a backpack. Or you can carry a men’s tactical chest bag which is very lightweight and able to be strapped onto your back or front. It has military-grade functionality with an urban comfort, so you can walk through the woods or through a busy city, without feeling encumbered. A few more necessities include hiking boots, a flashlight, cooking items, sunglasses, a compass and a map or GPS. 

2. Know your territory

Before you buy any gear, it will help to know the area where you will be camping and hiking. You need to know the weather forecast, terrain, altitude, and distance from closest towns. 

Why is this important? One example is the need to know the altitude so you understand the level of oxygen and whether you need to acclimatize first. A primitive camping beginner might not understand this before planning a high-altitude trip. Being oxygen starved will impair your thinking, awareness, strength and morale, which can put you in danger. 

You need to know where ranger posts are as a back-up when trouble arises. Whether it’s a need for food, water, or first aid, their help can be life-saving.  Be sure to jot down contact numbers in case you are injured and cannot get to them. 

3. Respect the wildlife

Chances are camping and hiking will bring you face to face with wildlife. It can be one of the highlights of a newbie camping trip, but it could also be dangerous. No matter how cute they are, wild animals are not pets and they are not tame. Bears, wolves, eagles and moose are very common throughout North America. If you’re in ‘bear country’, for example, you need to be aware of how to protect yourself and your food. You are in their domain, so you need to be respectful, employ common sense, make good judgments, and be diligent.

Rangers and more experienced campers can tell you what to expect — if there have been bear or mountain lion attacks where you’re headed. Also, even deer or moose, while not carniverous, are still large and powerful and have instincts to protect themselves if they feel threatened. Absolutely do not try to take selfies! Keep your distance and always carry a can of mace spray just in case.

4. Have a plan

When you enter into the wilderness, you will realize just how important it is to have a planned route. You cannot see more than 15 to 20 feet in front of you in many places. The landscape can be dense with trees, leaves, rocks, valleys, gulleys and bushes. You need to have a GPS tracker with you, so you can pinpoint where you are. It will allow emergency services to lock onto your position and make contact with you when there is no reception for cellular phone calls.

Enjoy this beginner guide for backpacking by Miranda. She includes a lot of important details.

You should work out how long it will take you to get from point A to point B and each subsequent leg of your trip if you are backpacking to several destinations. It is also a good idea to leave a copy of your route and itinerary with someone at home, in case you don’t arrive at your next checkpoint. For example:

  • Days 1-2, hike up to camping point on ridge in Map Square E14-A1. Estimated distance, 6000m. 
  • Days 2-3, hike up to a famous monument. Estimated distance 2500m. Contact rangers (if there’s a station nearby) or back home to update your journey (if there’s reception).
  • Days 3-4, hike up to a mountain peak. Estimated distance 1800m.  
  • Days 4-5, hike out to rock village. Estimated distance 3250m. Get a room, ready to depart soon after; report in with home.

Something like this gives an idea of where you are going, and what days you expect to reach each checkpoint.


These four primitive camping basics for newbies will give you a better chance to have a successful experience in nature. It may be both challenging and rewarding, but will ultimately be determined by how well you have planned. 

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