Camping 101: Trip Tips for a Great Experience in the Great Outdoors

By Blane Bachelor
July 08, 2011, 10:22:04 AM EDT

There are two weekends left in National Camping & Great Outdoors Month, and although the whole thing is a not-so-subtle marketing ploy by REI, I’ll take any excuse to encourage people to spend more time in nature.

Same goes for John Ricci, owner of Wandrian Adventures a New York City-based company that’s committed to responsible travel. Ricci has spent many a night under the stars, having explored 44 countries and six continents throughout his adventures.


Here, some insights from Ricci to help novices have a great time in the great outdoors.

What basics should you look for and ask about when reserving a campsite? Is there running water? Are there bathrooms? Is firewood provided? Are there quiet hours? Are kids allowed? Is there a place to go swimming or shopping nearby? What other activities are there and is there a cost?

ShermansTravel’s readers are pretty savvy, especially when it comes to their budgets and getting a good deal. So what camping items are better to rent than buy for novices? If you are not planning on camping more than twice a year, I suggest renting everything (tents, sleeping bags, packs) since you will most likely go “car camping” [using your car as "home base," which requires a little less planning]. If you plan to hike to a site or go more than twice a year, then I suggest buying a pack and water bottle, both of which can be used elsewhere. If you plan on more than that, check out organizations like Sierra Trading Post or online sites like or for your first tent, as it will be cheaper and allows you to enter the camping gear world at a much lower price point. What are your must-have items? Three things you should always have when camping for any amount of time: good toothpaste, because it always has a way of making you feel fresh even if you cannot shower; duct tape, for anything, including surgery; and a way to make fire that will work even if it’s wet. I was once on a river in Ethiopia for 29 days and showered in dirty water as much as I could, but after I brushed my teeth, that fresh breath always woke me up in the morning. Once I had a cut that we had to staple shut without anesthesia and it was duct tape that kept it dry day after day on the river. And of course fire is self-explanatory. One other thing is baby wipes. You can use them to “shower” and, like toothpaste, they make you feel fresh.

Find out more tips at Sherman's.

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