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Tent Camping Guide

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I spent the majority of my youth tent camping with my family. My dad would haul us up the mountain on a Friday and we’d spend the weekend fishing, hiking, taking photos, and playing in the dirt.

We had an absolutely enormous canvas tent that was big enough to sleep eight people. Looking back on it, that tent was overkill, to say the least.

However, as much of a pain as that thing was to set up, it provided lots of good memories of camping with my family.

Today, I don’t tent camp anymore, but for those of you that want to go that route, this tent camping guide will give you some pointers on how to make it a more pleasant and efficient process.

Get Some Practice

People setting up tent in the backyard

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If you’re new to tent camping (or if you have a new tent), be sure to practice setting it up at home before you hit the road.

There have been many occasions in my life when we were delayed for one reason or another and had to set up our tent in the dark of night. That’s not a fun exercise if you’ve never done it before!

It only takes a few minutes to do a test-run with your tent, so unpack it, set it up in the backyard, make sure you know how the poles fit together and how to get the rainfly on, and you should be good to go.

Tent Camping Guide: Bring a Sleeping Pad – Make that Two!

Two people laying in a tent camping

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Sleeping on the ground at my age is, well, not comfortable. It wasn’t comfortable when I was young, either, but at least I was young and flexible and resilient!

But you don’t have to be uncomfortable like I was back in the day. There are a million sleeping pad options you can try to get a good night’s rest. Heck, you can get an air mattress and throw it in your tent if you like!

Whatever you decide to do, bring as much padding as you can reasonably fit. I understand that if you’re going to be backpacking that a queen-sized air mattress isn’t in the cards. But if you’re car camping, stick that sucker in!

Learn More:

A Comfortable Chair is a Must

Person sitting next to a campfire

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Sitting around the campfire is one of the best parts of tent camping – unless you’re sitting in an uncomfortable chair!

A good camp chair is worth the extra expense. It gives you a place to relax after a long day of adventuring and allows you to kick your feet up by the fire and enjoy time with your family and friends.

Think about it – you can get a cheap chair to save money, and run the risk of being completely uncomfortable, or you can shell out a few more bucks for a chair that is big, comfortable, and well-reviewed.

Speaking of reviews, take them with a grain of salt. While most people might think a chair is super comfortable, you might hate it. So, if possible, test out some chairs in real life, that way you know for sure that it’s something you’ll enjoy.

Tent Camping Guide: Make Meals Ahead of Time

Castiron pot over a campfire

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When I was a kid, my dad would make these incredible campfire meals. No matter how dirty and tired we were, it was always nice to sit around the fire and eat like we were at home.

The reason why those campfire meals were so good is because my dad did a lot of the preparation beforehand.

He’d marinate chicken, make hamburger patties, and make sides like baked beans and potato salad before we left home. Then it was just a matter of heating things up on the fire. We’d make hot dogs and s’mores, too, of course.

But prepping the majority of our meals at home not only saved time once we were camping, but it reduced the mess and the clutter around camp.

Keep It Clean

Inside of a camping tent

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As for your tent, do what you can to keep it clean.

It doesn’t take long for the dirt, pine needles, twigs, and other debris from the campground to begin piling up inside your tent door.

Many tents have a vestibule (or two) where you can take your shoes off before you go inside. A good tip is to bring an extra tarp to put on the ground inside the vestibule, that way you can kick off your shoes without stepping on the bare ground.

I’d also recommend investing in a small broom and dustpan so you can easily get rid of any debris inside the tent. Removing any debris is especially important before you pack the tent up. Pebbles and sticks left inside the tent could easily puncture the floor or walls.

Bring Earplugs

Kids in a tent camping

Photo by yulkapopkova via iStock

If you’re like me, any kind of noise will wake me up. At home, I sleep with a white noise machine (I have one in my camper, too). 

But if I still tent camped, I’d have a collection of earplugs with me. If you’re in an established campground, the sound of other campers, vehicles, generators, and the like could keep you up all night long. 

Those issues probably won’t happen if you’re in a dispersed camping site, but the sounds of the forest could keep you up just the same.

Getting a good night’s rest is important while you’re camping, so unless you sleep like a rock, add earplugs to your list.

So, there you have it! Though this tent camping guide doesn’t include every possible camping tip, the ones we’ve included will help you get ready to enjoy a few nights out in your tent. Have fun and stay safe!

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