In an average year, around 41 million Americans go camping. We say ‘average’ because we’ve recently been through the antithesis of average: a pandemic and global stay-at-home order. Campgrounds were closed throughout 2020 and have only recently begun reopening. As the stay-at-home order is lifted and we are able to travel again, camping is no-doubt going to make it’s return.
So if you’re itching to explore and get out in the wild, camping is one of the most popular activities and vacation ideas you can do in the U.S. today. In this article we’re going to cover some of the camping essentials you need to enjoy a camping trip safely and comfortably. Let’s get started!
Why is camping so popular?
According to research, camping has consistently been on the rise in the U.S. up until 2020. Since 2014, the percentage of campers who camp three or more times per year has grown by 72 percent, with more than 7.2 million households in the U.S. having camped in the past five years. But why is camping so popular?
Here are 5 reasons to go camping
- Spending time in nature
Spending time in nature can help to relieve stress and make you feel more connected and grounded. Studies show that being in nature lowers blood pressure, reduces nervous system arousal, boosts immune function, feelings of contentment, and alleviates anxiety. What more could you ask for?!
Most people want to travel, but for many, it’s not possible due to the cost. Staying at hotels or Air BnBs, paying travel and airfare, and meals in restaurants certainly adds up, making it difficult for many working Americans to enjoy a vacation. One of the major benefits of camping is that it’s budget-conscious.
Check out this Reddit thread that includes a number of $20 or less campsite recommendations in the U.S. According to My Backyard Life, the average cost per night for a campsite ranges from $12 to $45 each night. Plus, you can bring food from home to save on eating out - making it an ideal option for those with a budget.
- Opportunity to connect
Oftentimes, when we spend time with our friends and family, we are distracted - either by our phones, work, television, or the general hecticness of life. When you unplug and get out in nature, you are able to connect with people more deeply.
- Campsite variety
In the U.S. there are 4,300 campgrounds from coast to coast. This fact alone shows the extensive variety in camping experiences - whether you want to camp in the desert in Joshua Tree, California or by a quaint river in Asheville, North Carolina, there is going to be something that piques your interest.
You’re going to be burning some calories during your camping trip, because camping requires some physical activity. Whether you’re setting up a tent or hiking to your destination, you’re going to benefit from some movement while enjoying the time with your friends and family - a double win!
The camping essentials you need
We hate to state the obvious, but if you’re going camping, you’re going to need a tent! If you’re a newbie camper, you may be lost trying to establish which type of tent you need. According to this article by REI, the type of tent requires depends on a few key factors:
- How many people will be staying in it
- What will the weather be like at your destination
- What do you intend to do in the tent? E.g. just for sleeping, or for eating/socializing etc.
- How far will you be carrying the tent?
- What is your budget?
If you’re still stuck, take this quiz to help guide you to the best tent to buy for your camping trip.
- Sleeping bag
There’s not going to be a mattress for your nightly slumber, so getting a good quality, comfortable sleeping bag is vital. Similarly to the tent, it’s a good idea to establish the climate of the camping destination so you can buy a sleeping bag that will be warm enough.
Check out this blog post by Koa that guides you through the different types of campaign sleeping bags you can buy.
When you’re out in the wild, there’s not going to be many lights. This makes for a great opportunity to stargaze, but it’s also going to prevent you from seeing much else! Getting some lights, like headlamps, flashlights or a lantern will allow you to navigate through your campsite.
Without the comfort of your home’s heating and cooling system, you are exposed to the elements. A quick change in wind direction can drastically change the weather, that you may not be adequately prepared for. Aside from doing plenty of research into the estimated weather conditions, it’s a good idea to bring layers so you can easily adjust to a changing temperature.
- Camping chairs
When you think of camping, it’s our guess that you think of a group of people sitting around the fire toasting s’mores. Without the chairs, this vision doesn’t come to life quite the same. Camping chairs are a necessity for any camping trip for your own comfort. Luckily they are often lightweight and foldable, making them easy to transport.
- The right footwear
As mentioned, during a camping trip, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your feet. Making sure that you are wearing the right footwear for the type of activities planned can make a huge difference for your comfort and endurance. Attempting to hike in tennis shoes is not going to be a good choice!
If you’re yet to go camping, make 2021 the year for it. Camping is an unforgettable experience and is stacked full of benefits for your mental, physical and social health and happiness. Whether you’re a newbie camper or returning to it after your 2020 hiatus, we hope this list of camping essentials has helped you with your trip. Enjoy!