Never Camped Before

-- Last Updated: Jul-13-05 7:39 PM EST --

I'm not what you'd call the outdoors type but I'd like to do some longer trips in my Kayak in the future. I'm very new to this (getting my first Kayak in 2 weeks, YEA!!!!) so "longer " to me means a 2 day trip somewhere.

Problem is...I've never been camping before. As a Cub Scout, camping meant sleeping bags in a cabin. I was thinking more like no real campsite. Just me, my tent and what I pack in and out. Now with that beings said. How do I get started. Can anyone recommend any books (I like books) or other resources to get me started.

At 50 (in July) I'm not Rambo. I'd just like to get away with my boat and my thoughts once in a while. Any ideas for a old cote?

I thought about overnight camping someplace like Stone Mountain to get me started. Close to home and they have bathrooms!

What to take
I tend to take more than I need most times. Lately I have been making a checklist of what I take then try to keep track of stuff that I use and don’t use so I can try to take less next time. If you can’t decide whether to take something or not I would go ahead and take it. Try not to get carried away and try packing the kayak at home first to be sure it all fits.

Here are some things I usually take:

extra paddle

first aid kit


sleeping bag

thermarest sleeping pad

small pillow

small stove


food (canned/frozen stuff if your lazy like me)

small cooler

water (1 gallon/day min)


small chair

extra change of clothes

camp towel


bug spray

etc, etc

The list can go on forever if you let it.

If you really want to get away come down and join me in the Okefenokee Swamp sometime.

Sounds Good
As soon as I get a few miles on the new boat I might just take you up on that one.

You may consider
an outfitter for the first couple of trips. They have lots of experience to draw from so you don’t have to learn things the hard way.

Pick an area you want to paddle in, find a reputable company, book a trip and watch how the guides do things. Everyone develops his/her own routines.

When you start out on your own, begin with short overnight or weekend trips in areas you feel comfortable with. As your experience and confidence levels grow, take on longer and more challenging trips.

Have fun


I 2nd the outfitter
However, if you don’t want that expense, try hooking up with a couple of experienced trippers for your 1st few overnighters. Don’t know of many paddlers that aren’t willing to help a newbie gain experience (as long as the newbie is willing to learn and FOLLOW directions & instruction; it’s a safety thing).

I enjoy overnight and weekend trips so much that I don’t waste the time my warden (aka wife) allows for paddling with day trips. The only day trips I do are the ones she will come on cuz they don’t count to my release time.

Anyway, good luck and have fun. Chances are that you’ll be hooked for life (even at 50).

Happy paddlin’


sounds nice
been wanting to do the Okefenokee camping trip too. I’m located about an hour west of Savannah.

“The Complete Idiots Guide to Camping and Hiking”

ISBN 0-02-863186-2

Yeah, it’s one of those books that you’ll get shit from your friends for having, but it’s a pretty good beginner book; it’s actually a pretty good book even if you’ve been camping for years. It covers a lot of material that will be useful for what most people will need to know in the outdoors.

another very good book

Invaluable for the new camper.

Some of my heros

– Last Updated: Jul-15-05 12:48 PM EST –

Some of my heros have written some real good books that will help. Bill Mason's Song Of The Paddle or Cliff Jacobson has several books out. One of my favorites is Expedition Canoeing. Both of these have real helpful information for the paddler/camper. Check them out, you won't be sorry.
Good Luck,

Thanks for the great suggestions
I think I will do Stone Mountain. Paddle during the day and “camp” when I’m finished.

A cheap Wal-Mart tent (my son works there so I can use his discount) and I’ll go from there. I definitely want to look at back pack type of stuff. Small and light. I will have to solve the “bathroom challenge” first, then who knows.

For the bathroom chalange
A military type fold up shovel is the nutsfor a snack, trail mix hits the spot. For a main meal, ive seen a lot of good one pot meals in the store. If you dont want to cook and if you can get em, an MRE is the way to go

You’d probably be better off going to rei or some similar place and buying a tent rather than walmart. You could probably find one for about $100. Or maybe a used sports shop or thru the want ads. Cheap tents don’t seem to last long in even the mildest weather. There’s ussually alot of good quality backpacking gear around used that hasn’t had much use.

Good ideas
I never really wanted to go “camping” after my forced introduction to it in SE Asia when I was younger and stupid (more stupid?) But when I see folks on a 3 or 4 day paddle I start thinking it might be better now that I don’t have anyone shooting at me. Ah…bears dont carry guns right? LOL

There you go defying stereotypes again
All kidding aside, it always warms my heart to see people getting started at camping. I’m sure it will be a lot more pleasant than Southeast Asia was for you, but starting simple is good advice, as is tagging along with people who are more experienced, if possible. A lot of us got started that way as kids, “tagging along” with our parents (as if we had a choice - lucky are those of us who had good camping experiences as kids).

Did you read PJC’s post on the barred-owl thread a few weeks back? THAT was a good example of the magic that can happen when camping in a place of real solitude. I’d look that thread up, but I gotta run back to work right now.

Avoid Outfitters
I’d avoid learning from outfitters. Most people hire outfitter to be pampered. That is what they specialize in. Use common sense and buy a book from REI. My first book was Freedom of the Mountains. It had everything I needed to know.

I’ve camped many hundreds of nights. E-mail me and I’ll try to answer your questions.

…I have the gear for outfitting a camping trip (TRUST ME…lol) and will loan you all you need for a two or three day trip, and will bring my boat and gear to accompany you…I suggest you try this during a cool spell or a little later in the fall, it just plain stinks to sweat in the heat and humidity after a hard days paddle…

I’m 52, Retired Army/DOD Civil servant and live in Arab Alabama, 10 Miles from Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River…There are a number of places you could consider for your trips, Rivers and large lakes have Marina’s that often have bathrooms and shower facilities, as do most State Parks located along the shores. many campgrounds that rent campsites also have bathrooms…

leave the shovel home
cat holes are a thing of the past - carry in - carry out - is the poop philosophy of the day. Cheap plastic containers, newspaper and zip locks are your poop toilet of the day. I think the most important thing to remember is to leave the environment as you found it, not with little pock marks of poop holes.