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If you need to shop for gear, go to Wal-Mart! 
They have all your basics at good prices.

When My Wife & I started camping we didn't have much more than a tent, sleeping bags and an old hurricane lamp.
 As far as equipment goes, it would depend on what level of comfort you want.
It also depends on how often you will be camping,
 to see if it is worth buying all that I am going to mention.

Accept the idea that for your first trips you will be under-equipped.  Consider them learning trips.
 Bring a notebook to write down all the things you forgot or wish you had thought of.
 Even after 10 years of camping we still do this.


Many families have their school age children sleep in separate tents.
(Our 3 older boys each have their own dome tent.)

Buy at least a "couple people bigger" than your family size.

Regarding size, you will want to keep in mind where you will be camping.
Not all campsites are created equal.
Your tent size may require a bigger campsite!

If buying a tent with an attached screen house, keep in mind that attached screen houses with a built in floor; when it rains, this floored-screen house holds water like a swimming pool!

Dome or cabin - it's really a personal preference.

How to Pick 'em


How to Care for them

How to Use them


Tent poles
Detailed info about Tent Poles

Tent stakes

Many tents come with the inexpensive easily bendable aluminum kind.
Be sure to invest in some of the plastic yellow or orange ones.
You will have much better luck anchoring the tarp that covers your tent to these stakes than the aluminum ones.

ground cloth

Extend the life of your tent with the added protection of a ground cloth
 (ground cover, tarp, tent footprint). 
Consider using a ground cloth with your tent. This footprint tarp protects against abrasion and acts as an added barrier to help keep moisture out of the tent and make it more comfortable for those inside.

You can use painters tarps 
(these are thin clear plastic, and you basically get one use out of them) 
and the rolls of plastic sheeting that contractors use 
(You can get them at Wal Mart for about $5 per roll.)

As a ground  cloth it can be used a couple of times until holes start to develop in it, then just throw it away, and make a new one.

They are also great to cover your fire wood. 

See Tarps below



can be used to cover the ground under your tent prolonging the life of your tent (just make sure the tarp you use under your tent is slightly smaller than the floor of your tent)

can be used over your tent to protect it from bird droppings, sparks, tree branches, extra rain protection, and the sun.

If using the tarp over your tent, try to get it bigger than your tent to have an overhang by your tent door. It is wonderful not to have to step out of your tent immediately into the rain. This keeps the inside of your tent drier! Some people have been known to buy an inexpensive dining canopy just for the poles to use for the tarp over their tent.

wood cover


sleeping bags

Pillows and pillowcases
Some kind of sleeping mat/pad

 blue foam closed cell type (Less expensive)
self-inflating mattresses
You may find a cot a nice little extra.

can feel better to lay on in humid weather than a hot sleeping bag 

Wool blankets
nothing beats a wool blanket as an insulator on cool/cold nights.



Campfires don't make very practical stoves or ovens.
 Sure, some foods taste good and are fun to cook over the campfire, 
but without appropriate utensils and a proper fire, the food will not cook correctly and you'll likely wind up with blackened cookware.

See Stoves



See Cookware




Click Here
for More on
Lighting and Illumination



Small hatchet

Stake hammering mallet

rubber mallet with a hook on the other end for pulling up stakes 

Small broom to sweep out your tent

Small rug for outside your tent door
This is important because it really cuts down on the dirt that would otherwise end up in your tent!

Clothes line and clothes pins


Lamp box

If you camp or plan to camp more than once a year,
 a camp box is the best thing you will ever invest in. 
 The idea behind the camp box is to place the most common and essential stuff in one pre-packed place. A camp box can be anything you choose.  I have seen everything from plastic tubs to lockable toolboxes used effectively for stowing your most crucial camp gear. 

The trick is to pack as much as you can without creating a box that weighs more than you can move.  If the box becomes overly large, don't worry.  Over time you'll figure out what you need to leave at home and what to include. But when it comes time to pack, the most common gear is already boxed up and ready to go.

Of course, a list ensures you'll never forget anything - 
if that's possible.  
Making a list is probably the hardest thing to do.  Most people forget and some don't bother to take the time it requires.  But once the list is complete, you'll have serious peace of mind. To develop a good list you have to start with a base of things you normally bring.  Then each time you go camping bring along the list and update it.  Removing things that go unused, but adding stuff you forgot. 
Eventually the list will contain absolutely everything you want to bring.

Click Here for an Idea Camping List


We take three. All different colors.
Then you'll know which one is the "beverage" cooler,
which one is the "food" cooler and
which one is for "condiments" (eggs, cheese, mustard, ketchup, etc).

 A metal cooler would be heavier, but in the long run you won't need as much ice. 

More On


We buy the loose cubed kind, because I think it is easier to fit the food in the cooler. Many people love the big block of ice.
You decide what will be right for your needs.

Five gallon water container

One with a spicket for drinking is nice.
 A square shaped one will pack easier in your car than a round one.

The more the better!
 One for drinking, one for cooking, one for hands and dishes and messes and one for Kool Aid (or such) for kids and ME!


For families with young children, this next item falls in the "Basic equipment" category, in our opinion.
It takes a tremendous amount of stress off of the weekend;
however parental supervision is still required.

A Baby Gate
 to go around the fire pit


Fire extinguisher!

All vehicles and boats should have one. Not a bad idea to have one just for camping.



Folding step ladder
good for some height when tying tarps to the trees 


Kott grill (grate)
Don't count on having a dependable grate over your fire pit. If your fire pit has a grate it may be small or bent up. The Kott grill is actually just a flat grate that takes up less car space than even a small kettle style grill.

This comes in very handy for splitting the big chunks of wood many Campground firewood vendors sell.

Various length bungee cords
(You can never have too many of these!)

Bungee loops

Guy line adapters
These are like short little bungees with only one hook. These are used in conjunction with the ropes you use on your tarps.

A great advantage to using these to attach your tarp to the stakes is that in a wind you are less likely to pop the grommets from your tarp. The bungees provide your tarp with move "give" in stressful situations than just a rope does.

Dining canopy or screen house

TIP: Buy enough plastic drop cloths in the paint department of Wal Mart/K Mart to go around the sides you want covered of your screen house. Clothespin them to the seam where the screen meets the ceiling. This also keeps you warmer when it's chilly in the fall/spring. A bit of an inconvenience, but hey, it works!

Lawn chairs

Citronella candles
If you're camping in mosquito territory, you may want to bring some.


Dutch oven

An Army ammo type box is great

Duct tape
spare batteries of whatever size you use
spare mantles
funnel for filling Coleman fuel lanterns
Swiss Army knife
adjustable wrench
nylon repair tape
spare lantern generator
camping scissors
extra rope
liquid puncture preventative and repair kit
spare fluorescent tubes
Sportsman's goop
A "must" for repairing those leaks you discovered in last nights rain!
seam sealer
3/8" Grommet kit

Fishing Poles and Tackle

BOUNCE Fabric Softner Sheets
All this time you've just been putting Bounce in the dryer! TRY THIS!

  • Put a sheet of Bounce in yourpocket to keep yellow-jackets and bees away

  • It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them.
  • It also repels mice.
  • It repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop 
  • Prevent musty suitcases and dufflebags. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing
  • Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them. It will keep them smelling fresh.
  • . Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan.
  • Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight

Need Fishing Tips?


bath towels

wash cloths

shower kit
Tupperware Box, etc.
"toiletry" type items

dental floss
q tips
razor/shaving cream
the mirror you find in the camping section of Wallmart or wherehaveya - it has a handy little hook for hanging it. 


Besides toiletries you won't want to forget

 any prescription medication family members need to take!



Buying A First Aid Kit: Which company kit is best? 

Purchasing a commercially packaged kit from either of the following four companies, is as close as any to putting a doctor in your pack:

Atwater Carey (800/359-1646) 

Adventure Medical Kits (800/324-3517) 

Outdoor Research (800/421-2421) 

Sawyer (800/356-7811) 

Other commercially packaged kits cannot hold a candle to any of these four.

If you are having trouble finding any of the above kits in your local stores, or wish to obtain specialty first aid gear to refill your kit, then look no further than Chinook Medical Gear-the best, one-stop, mail-order shopping source. You can get their catalogue by calling 800/766-1365.


Practice assembling and using your new stove, lantern and tent in your backyard.
 You might even do a "backyard overnighter" with the kids for practice.
 Cook up a dinner of camping style food, tell some campfire tales and tuck the kids in their bags in the tent for the night.

You'll be glad you did a test run.
 It's always better to get your act together in the comfort of your own backyard than to arrive at a campsite tired, hungry and clueless about how to make camp.

You may want to even try setting it up in the dark in your backyard to get the hang of it.
You NEVER know!!!!

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Do you need an address or phone number for an outdoor gear company?
Here is a listing of a contact information for some of the major gear companies.

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