Tent Camping: a Definitive Guide - Panergy
TENT CAMPING: A DEFINITIVE GUIDE
Getting away from work and from the stressors of everyday life may feel impossible, but it’s an important way to recharge and restore yourself so that you can tackle life with more clarity and energy than you had before.
There are plenty of ways to get away from it all. But there’s something special about pitching a tent and spending the night close to nature. Distancing yourself from stresses and screens isn’t just soothing, it’s good for your health. We’ll talk you through getting started with tent living—what you need, what to look for in a tent, where to go, and more.
WHY TENT CAMPING?
Tent camping is an easy getaway. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can do it just about anywhere you can tote and pitch a tent. From backpacking trips to beach camping, the opportunities for tent camping are just about limitless.
And camping comes with all sorts of health benefits. You get Vitamin D from sunshine. You get to go experience fresh air (and the serotonin that comes with it).You get opportunities to exercise, to meditate, and to spend time with the people you care about.
WHAT ARE THE 10 ESSENTIALS FOR CAMPING?
If you’re going camping, there are a few things you can count on needing. The 10 camping essentials are:
- Sleeping Bag
- Water Bottle
- Fire Starter
- First Aid Kid
- Pocket Knife
- Map and Compass (Or a charged GPS if you have service)
- Weather-Appropriate Clothing (including rain gear if necessary)
- Flashlight, Lantern, or Head Lamp
- Toilet Paper
You can read more about the 10 camping essentials, or if you’re looking for advice on packing for a camping trip beyond those basics, check out our camping checklist.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF TENT CAMPING?
There are all sorts of places you can go and experiences you can find with a tent in tow. Here are some of the most popular:
Car camping doesn’t mean you sleep in your car instead of a tent. Rather, it means that you’re set up in a campsite, with your vehicle close by. You’ll likely drive up to a campsite, rather than hike in. Then you’re free to relax there for a day or two before either driving home, or on to the next campsite. Car camping can be a great way to check out a variety of scenery in a short span of time.
Bring a light tent along and take to the trails. Backpacking and hiking are a great way to combine a little exercise with a chance to see remote scenery. Hiking in to your campsite means enjoying vistas that not everybody gets to see. And a long day of hiking is just the thing to make sure you get a good night’s rest in your cozy tent. When you’re backpacking, you can set up camp anywhere along your journey. That helps you set your own pace for your trip, and you’re likely to find a bit more quiet time than you would at a typical campground.
Canoe or kayak camping is a unique experience. Instead of backpacking, you load up your gear and take to the water, camping along the banks as you go. With the assistance of dry bags, you can pack a surprising amount into a small boat, even draping some items over the side. (For canoe camping, consider a sun shade or shelter that can keep bugs out like the NoBugZone CT 11, especially during mosquito season.)
CAMPING IN THE BACKYARD
You don’t have to go far away in order to reconnect with nature a little. If you can’t get away, there’s still nothing stopping you from doing a little camping in your own yard. It can be a great way to get out of the house for a little bit and have a tiny adventure—especially if you have kids.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A TENT?
You want your tent to suit the situation. Avid campers often have more than one tent, if they do more than one kind of camping. But if this is your first tent, or if you only plan to have one, then it should be suited for the kind of camping you’ll be doing most often.
There are lots of different tents, for lots of different campers. Sometimes narrowing it down to just the right one can feel a little overwhelming. Fortunately, our Tent Finder can help you, by asking questions about where you’re going to use your tent, and what features matter most.
Let’s say you and a friend are planning to go backpacking this summer. You each need space for regular sleeping mats and a backpack. You’re not camping in extreme conditions, but some of the campgrounds you plan to stay at do get pretty hot. Your best bet in that case is probably the Midori 2-person tent.
Maybe you’ve got a family of four, and you want to introduce the kids to camping by taking them car camping every now and then during summer vacation. You want a little extra room, so people can stand up. (And since kids aren’t always great at minimalist packing.) A good choice for you might be the Copper Canyon LX 4-person tent.
Whatever your situation, the Tent Finder can help you find gear that meets your needs.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN RV SITE AND A TENT CAMPSITE?
RV sites differ from regular campsites. They tend to be specifically geared towards people camping in RVs. That may mean amenities like electrical hookups, a drinking water connection, and a sewer connection. Many also offer Wi-Fi. Many RV sites will accommodate tent campers, but since your tent doesn’t need a sewer hookup, you may be better off taking advantage of the versatility that tent camping offers.
Tent campsites have a much wider variety. You can find campgrounds with Wi-Fi, shower facilities, or laundry. You can also find campgrounds that just offer a place to pitch your tent, leaving it up to your resourcefulness to sort out the rest.
Many tent campsites have reservation systems or fees. You may be able to specify the type and location of site you’d prefer, you may be assigned a space, or you may be able to just find a designated spot and settle in. Just make sure you know what your campsite requires before you head out. If there are any reservations or fees needed for the campground you want, it’s easier to take care of that ahead of time.
HOW DO YOU COMFORTABLY CAMP IN A TENT?
Camping comfortably in a tent mostly means making sure you’ve got enough padding under you to sleep well, and enough insulation around you to stay warm. Here are a few pieces of gear you might consider to keep your tent cozy.
A quality sleeping bag that’s rated for the temperature you’ll be camping in.
A tent floor fits inside the tent, over its existing floor. It can add another layer of insulation, and protect the floor of your tent from wear, tear, and getting dirty.
A tent footprint goes under your tent. It’s another way to prolong the life of your tent, protecting the bottom of the tent from twigs or loose stones on the ground. It also adds another layer between you and the ground, which will provide extra waterproofing and a little bit of insulating warmth.
A sleeping pad puts a little more cushion under you. Not only does it help you have a cozier, comfier night’s rest, but it also puts more insulation between you and the cold ground.
HOW TO STAY SAFE IN A TENT
Millions of people camp safely every year. But like anything else you may do, it’s wise to take a moment to look at safety tips before you set out to camp for the first time. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Research the area you’re camping to learn about any possible risks to look out for, and pay attention to any signage or park staff you encounter. Make sure your tent, clothing, and gear are ready for the temperatures and conditions at the campsite.
If you’re in an area where bears may be present, be sure to store food securely. Put it in a special container, hang it from a tree, or put it in your car. Use fresh food first, since it has a stronger smell.
Make your campfire 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, and trees. Keep it small, and in a designated fire pit. Have water nearby to put it out quickly, if you need to. When you douse a fire, make sure all the embers are thoroughly wet, not just the red ones.