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10 Mistakes First Time Campers Make

Camping for the first time can sometimes be challenging because you don’t know what to bring. So we have constructed a list of these mistakes many first-time campers (including ourselves) forget about the first time they go camping. This will help you have a very successful first camping trip! Here are 10 Mistake First Time Campers Make.

Campsite at Ice Lake and Island Lake Trailhead

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1. Not Bringing Enough Water:

First on the list of mistakes first-time campers make is not bringing enough water. We as humans drink A LOT of water.

And a lot of the time when you are camping, you have lots of sun exposure. Or might be participating in physical activity, so you might need more water than the average day.

Another big thing to consider is needing water for cooking, putting out fires, and cleaning.

Therefore, one item we love is a 7 gallon water jug, which usually lasts us 3 days.

2. Paying For Campsites (Except Holidays):

There are a ton of free campsites out there. If you go camping often, paying for campsites can add up quickly. Not having to buy a campsite in a campground every night can save you loads of money.

Oftentimes the free campsites are much more beautiful and spread out than typical campgrounds. The only exception to buying a campsite is if you require hook-ups, can’t live without facilities, or you’re camping during the holidays and want to lock down a spot.

Check out our article on 3 Great Websites For Free Camping

3. Not Bringing Enough Firewood:

When you think of camping, you almost always think of a campfire. Before your next camping trip, you will want to decide if you are just having a fire for warmth, for cooking, or both.

A lot of times you use a lot more wood than anticipated when camping. You will need to sacrifice room though since wood can take up a lot of space if you have a small vehicle.

Also, a lot of times it is illegal to gather wood from national forests, national parks, BLM land, etc., so you will want to plan accordingly.

We usually bring at least 3 or 4 bundles if we plan to have at least 2 campfires.

4. Not Putting Away Food/Coolers At Night:

Depending on where you are camping for the night, it is usually important to put all food, coolers, and garbage away at night. The reason is to keep animals and rodents from eating your food. Oftentimes raccoons, squirrels, etc. will rummage through coolers or any garbage left behind.

Also, it is very important that bears don’t get into human food, because otherwise they always want human food and will resume roaming people’s campsites.

It’s obviously very dangerous to have bears around people. Therefore, most of the time if bears are commonly found around campsites, rangers have to capture and potentially kill a bear to avoid future danger to humans.

Concluding that it is important to put all food, coolers, trash, and anything with a scent away in a car or bear-proof lockboxes to avoid those risks. If you often camp where bears are prevalent, you might consider getting a bear canister.

5. Not Following Proper Leave No Trace Principles (Avoid Glass):

Please pick up after yourself and take your trash with you. Also, PLEASE avoid bringing glass to your campsite altogether (especially beer bottles).

Accidents happen and it’s very hard to pick up all residue. Glass can simply ruin a campsite, because people need to park their cars, oftentimes have pets running around, or don’t want to risk stepping on any glass and possibly getting an injury.

6. Leaving Toilet Paper Everywhere:

This goes hand in hand with “Leave No Trace“. Yes, toilet paper is biodegradable, but it takes anywhere from 1 to 3 years to decompose. So your toilet paper is left there for everyone else that camps there after you, so please just put it in the trash.

One idea for females is to have 2 baggies, one for clean toilet paper and the other for used toilet paper. Then, just dispose of the used TP at the end of the trip.

7. Not Bringing A Headlamp:

Having a headlamp makes everything easier at night when camping. A cellphone light or flashlight can work for camping trips here and there, but headlamps will be a game changer.

You don’t have to hold a headlamp in a certain spot, you just have to tilt it where it is needed. Also, make sure you have the right batteries for your headlamp (it’s also a good idea to bring extra)! 

8. Not Practicing Putting Together Your Equipment:

There are so many different kinds of equipment out there. Many are very simple and can be assembled in less than 10 minutes.

But there is far more complicated equipment out there, so you should practice putting up tents, shelters, etc. before going on your camping trip.

Therefore, you can ensure you can successfully put it up and that you have all the necessary pieces.

9. Packing For All Types Of Weather:

Another common problem on the list of mistakes first-time campers make is not bringing enough layers. Weather can change on a dime and sometimes the weather channel gets it wrong.

Be prepared for all types of weather. You are out in nature, so sometimes the weather differs from what the city temperature predicted.

We recommend bringing more layers for nighttime, bringing a rain jacket and gloves/hat/scarf.

10. Not Fully Extinguishing Fires:

Lastly, on the list of mistakes, first-time campers make is not fully extinguishing fires.

This is a crucial one. So many wildfires are actually from people not fully putting out a fire.

This is where bringing enough water is very important because you do need water to fully put out a fire. Just putting dirt on a fire is not enough!

Takeaway | 10 Mistakes First-Time Campers Make:

In Conclusion, camping is super fun, and a great way to explore nature for “cheap”. These are 10 mistakes first-time campers make, even including ourselves. And you’re going out in nature to have fun right?

If you follow these guidelines, then you are sure to have a successful trip. We hope this helps and you have a fun camping trip!

Now it’s time to get camping, check out our other related post:

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