Whether it’s your first camping weekend, or your one-hundredth, outdoor tent camping can and should be a great adventure that you remember for its high-points - not its disappointments. Experienced campers know what to expect and what to prepare for, but can still be surprised by a simple camping tip they never thought of. For new campers, their first few camping trips can make or break their desire to continue camping.
These simple and mostly common-sense tips will help new campers get off to a good start, and might even contain a suggestion or two for the experienced camper.
Know your camping area: Tent Camping is all about being prepared, and you can’t be prepared if you don’t know what to expect. It’s not enough to just know whether it’s a mountain or lowland campsite, or whether it will be hot or cold, you should know the type of terrain in the area, and typical weather expectations. Knowing the campsite has amenities, like; water, electric, and bathroom facilities is important, but it also helps to know where, when, and how much. Such as; the bathrooms are a mile from your campsite, or there is one water source for the whole camp-ground, or electric is available, but you can only use one extension cord. Campsite restrictions can also play a major role in your preparations. Your anticipation of great campfire meals will turn to major disappointment when you arrive and find that open campfires are not allowed.
Be prepared: Knowing the above information will help you decide what camping gear and equipment you need to take, and how much to take. It’s not just the proper and expected items and amounts for your planned outing, but also what you might need for the “unplanned.” For instance; you planned for one clothing change per day -what happens when you get an unplanned soaking from rain or a missed step crossing a creek, or you brought enough camping stove fuel for normal camping conditions, but it’s colder and windier than you expected -requiring extra fuel that you didn’t bring. Are there: mosquitoes, flies, and bugs, or snakes and camp-invading varmints? You will be miserable if you didn’t prepare for them.
Check and double-check: Most experienced campers have, and use, camping checklists that they have refined over time to match their camping style and needs. It is especially important for new campers to use them too. It only takes one forgotten item, large or small, to ruin all or part of your camp-out. Your camp stove looks great on the table, but it won’t do you much good if you forgot the fuel connector for the propane bottle, and imagine your surprise when you are ready to start dinner and realize that the fully-stocked and organized camp food cooler is sitting on the garage floor back home, instead of with the rest of the camping gear -where you assumed it was. Check it when you organize it, and double-check it when you pack it on-board.
These are only the basics. Each area has so much more to it that the details provide ample fodder for scores of camping books for each one. No matter what method you find that works for you, as long as you find one, if you cover these three areas of preparation, your chances of having a great and memorable outdoor camping trip will be a lot better than those that don’t
Don’t let the meals on your camping menu turn the job of camp cook into an ordeal, when it should be an enjoyable part of your camping experience. Too many times, what started out as an exciting task turned into a chore to struggle through - because you were doing it backwards. You can’t pick the best meals for your camping trip if you don’t have these answers first.
How much cooking do you want to do?
Camp cooking is a big part of the outing for a lot of people - so much so that they may even plan the other camping activities to fit their cooking schedule, but for others it is a necessary task to fit in between other outdoor activities. Ten minutes to fix, and ten minutes to eat - that’s how they want their camp meals.
If your idea of camping fits the former - then you have a free hand to pick almost any kind of camp meal you can think of, but if your idea of camp cooking fits the latter - you should look for simple quick meals with fewer ingredients, and fewer preparation steps.
Do you have the camping cookware and cooking equipment you need?
This one is pretty simple - no need to pick a great Dutch oven recipe if you don’t have a Dutch oven. Or a meal that needs several pots and pans, plus a campfire cooking grate - when you only have a 2-burner camp stove to cook on.
Are your options for camp cooking limited by the campsite restrictions?
Do you know if open campfires are allowed where you will be camping? Are you required to only use the fire rings or BBQ pits provided onsite? Does the size and layout of your campsite limit the space you will have available for the camp kitchen, or food prep and cooking activities? Obviously it would be a mistake to plan campfire recipes if you can’t have a campfire, or a camp meal that needs a lot of space for preparation and cooking if you only have room for one small table for the camp stove, and the food prep.
What type and age group of campers will you be cooking for?
Hearty, big eating adult campers? Weight or diet-conscious campers? Vegans? Kids? Or a combination of them all? Who you will be cooking for is one of the most important considerations when picking your camping menu meals. You may have visions of sizzling steaks and steaming baked potatoes, but how will that go over with the diet-conscious or vegan campers in your group? Or you might be considering Escargot’ and mushrooms, with a nice wine - to impress your fellow campers, but what about the six kids in your group? To them it’s snails and fungus - which they probably won’t touch, they would rather starve first.click here
It is important to pick meals and varieties that everyone will enjoy, or at least plan for back-up or supplemental meal choices. Nothing ruins the joy of a camp cook quicker than sour faces and a chorus of “Eewww’s.”
- Planning the meals for your camp menu will be a lot easier, and more successful, if you know the answers to these basic questions before you start looking for camping recipes.