Beginners Guide to Camping

Beginners Guide to Camping

Thinking about camping this summer for the first time and don’t know where to start? 

Living so close to a number of great camping spots in and around Calgary gives us the ideal opportunity to try camping. When it comes to camping you can tailor it to suit your needs, budget, and level of experience but the best way to learn how to camp is to get out and try it so here are some basics to get you started!


Tents are a great place to start since they are portable and come in a variety of sizes and price points. Do your research and make sure the tent you buy is big enough for your needs and has appropriate weather protection for the conditions you'll be in. 

When you get to your campsite make sure you pitch your tent on flat ground, preferably near shade, away from fire pits and mud, rocks, or tree roots. Avoid pitching in areas where rainwater might gather and seep inside. 


Start your camping adventure close to home. Shorter distances are ideal for beginner-friendly trips as areas close to home require less planning and if you happen to forget something you can run home to get it! 

A great place to start your camping adventure is at a local campground with amenities like washrooms, fire pits, and activities for the kids, like at the Calgary West Campground.

Essential Gear

Essential camping gear for beginners includes:

  • Sleeping gear: Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, an inflatable mattress, or a cot. 
  • Campsite needs: Headlamps, flashlights, lanterns to keep your campsite well-lit. You will also need firewood, a cooler and ice, waterproof matches, a lighter, and fire starter.
  • Furniture & accessories: Camping/lawn chairs, plastic tablecloths, and clips for the picnic table, insect-repellant candles, shade structures, and portable rain pavilions or a tarp. 
  • Cleaning supplies: Trash bags, paper towels, sponges, wipes, and disinfectant spray.
  • Safety equipment: Insect repellent, bear spray, sunscreen, first-aid kit, and a portable fire extinguisher. 
  • Cooking supplies: Pans, tongs, tin foil, a grill grate for cooking over the fire, roasting forks, dishes, and utensils.

Always remember to test new gear before you go - assemble your tent and make sure everything is included and works correctly, make sure your sleeping bag is comfortable, and that all flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns work (bring extra batteries!). 

What to Wear

Your clothing decisions depend on where you are going, the season and weather conditions, and what activities you plan to participate in but here are some basics:

  • Rain gear, including boots, a water-resistant coat, and an umbrella.
  • Light layering pieces, including long-sleeve shirts, lightweight tops, and jackets.
  • Shoes for all activities, including hiking boots and comfortable walking sneakers.  
  • It can get cold at night, even in the summer, so bring along thermal layers, gloves, thick socks, and long pants.

How to Eat

Here are some tips for easy meal planning:

  • Prep before you go: To save space and time prep everything you can at home. 
  • Use storage containers: Plastic food storage containers and ziplock bags are great for storing pre-prepped meals.
  • Choose multi-use ingredients: Choose recipes that utilize similar ingredients to keep preparation simple and take up less space.

Make sure you have all the tools necessary to do your cooking over an open flame or a camp stove if you are bringing one and don't forget the marshmallows!

Additional things to remember:  

  1. Lock up your food and get rid of your trash every night.
  2. Practice proper fire safety and pay attention to any fire bans in the area.
  3. Know best practices for wildlife in the area to keep them and you safe.
  4. Practise Leave No Trace principles by cleaning up after yourself and leaving your campsite better than you found it.

We hope these tips help you get outside this summer and have an enjoyable time camping!

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