4 Tips for Beginner Campers

The best thing to keep in mind when camping is that you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. You’ve really got to embrace being dirty, sleeping on the ground, preparing food over fires or small stoves, perhaps not having access to running water or flushing toilets, being too hot or too cold—and the list goes on…

Roughing it can be tough sometimes! Don’t get me wrong. I love camping, but I have also found a few shortcuts along the way that me save time and keep me comfy.

Tent with a view

1. How to sleep when it’s cold outside

Fill a plastic Nalgene with hot water and put it between your upper thighs when you go to sleep. If you have two Nalgenes, even better. Fill them both and put the other one by your feet inside your sleeping bag.

The coldest night I’ve spent camping was en route to the summit of Mt. Whitney in the Eastern Sierras. We were about 12,000 feet up, and it was October, the end of hiking/climbing season before winter rolled in. This trick SAVED ME. The hot water warms the blood that’s carried throughout your body. It is the difference between shivering all night and relaxing inside your sleeping bag and getting some much needed shut-eye.

MORE: How to stay warm while winter camping

2. Pack a camp box

I keep all of my car camping essentials in a large plastic bin in the garage so everything’s in one place and ready to go for the next trip. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Pots, pans, cups, plates, silverware, cooking utensils, plastic wine glasses, etc. (always give everything a good, proper wash when I get home from each trip)
  • Dish soap; mini salt/pepper and other vital seasonings
  • JetBoil and gas canister
  • French press and coffee accoutrements (necessary)
  • S’mores sticks
  • Small camp towel
  • Toiletries
  • Fire starter accessories
  • Lantern
  • First aid kit
  • Compass
  • Extra rope (you never know)

This grab-n-go will save you a ton of time packing for each camping trip.

MORE: The ultimate camping packing checklist

3. How to cook while camping

I usually prep some of the food before leaving home to make things a little easier at the campsite. For example, I love egg scrambles for breakfast—simple and delicious!—so will chop ingredients and mix everything with the eggs in advance, so all I have to do is pour it into the pan.

I also love hot dogs, nowhere more so than at a baseball game or camping. How do you improve an already perfect culinary delight like a hot dog? By adding bacon, obviously. I’ve been known to wrap the dogs with bacon at home to void the greasy mess at the campsite. It’s a rather gourmet touch that your fellow (pork-eating) campers will enjoy.

MORE: How to wash dishes while camping

4. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup s’mores

Speaking of improving upon perfect foods… S’mores are so good, a camping staple, must-have! But, did you know they can be better? One way to fancy up your s’mores is to swap out the chocolate bar for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. After a long day in the wild, there’s no sweeter treat to end the night.

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