7 Common Mistakes To Avoid as a First-Time Camper

Are you going camping for the first time? Camping is an amazing way to explore nature and have all kinds of fun. But as with anything new, it’s easy to make a few common mistakes on your first time out. Don’t worry, though—if you follow our advice, your first camping trip will be one to remember! Here, we take a look at seven common mistakes first-time campers make and how to avoid them. Read on for everything you need to know about embarking on your camping adventure in the best way possible.

Underestimating Mother Nature

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and this is particularly true when it comes to camping. Checking the weather forecast seems like a no-brainer, but first-time campers often overlook this crucial step. Take the time to research the area’s weather patterns so that you can come prepared with suitable clothing and gear. To truly conquer the elements, it’s important to consider these three practical pointers:

  • Layer up: Dress in layers. This allows you to add or remove clothing based on temperature changes.
  • Stay dry: Pack waterproof gear (including footwear) to keep you dry and avoid a dreaded soggy tent.
  • Practice wildlife smarts: Be aware of any dangerous wildlife in the area and know how to respond should you encounter bears or other critters.

Falling Victim to Kitchen Sink Syndrome

Another common mistake first-time campers make is overpacking. While the instinct to have ample supplies is understandable, sticking to the essentials will make your trip more enjoyable. Remember that the more things you bring, the more you’ll have to carry from your car to the campsite. Ask experienced campers for advice or consult a gear list to determine what you truly need. You might just find that roughing it is half the fun!

Leaving the Manual (and Common Sense) at Home

Nothing can replace the knowledge you gain when you take the time to understand how your equipment works. Make a point to set up your tent in your home’s backyard before embarking on your adventure, as nothing tests your patience more than trying to assemble a tent in the dark while battling mosquitoes. When it comes to common sense, remember basic camping etiquette—clean up after yourself, be mindful of noise, and give other campers space to enjoy nature’s beauty.

Experiencing a Firestarter Fiasco

The campfire—the iconic centerpiece of camping trips. Roasting marshmallows, telling stories, and keeping warm may seem like simple pleasures, but conjuring up a roaring blaze is not as simple as it appears. Before you find yourself cold and frustrated, take the time to learn about fire safety and fire-building techniques. A little preparation goes a long way. To avoid becoming that camper who relies on lighter fluid and a prayer, remember these three fire-starting fundamentals:

  • Collect dry wood and kindling
  • Create a fire pyramid that allows for ample airflow
  • Be patient—successfully kindling a fire can take a few tries!

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start experimenting with other materials that will help you take your campfire game to the next level. Prioritize quality over quantity and only use fire-safe materials like concrete blocks or metal rings. If possible, build a safe perimeter around the fire using logs or stones. This will help contain the heat and keep sparks from flying.

Additionally, it’s important to consider local laws and regulations when building a fire. Check to see if campfires are allowed in your area before you start gathering wood. If they’re not, you might need to seek out alternative heat sources, such as propane stoves or lanterns.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can become a campfire-building pro in no time.

Choosing the Wrong Shelter

The great outdoors! There’s nothing quite like embarking on your first camping adventure, but don’t dive into the wilderness unprepared. One big mistake many debut campers make is not selecting the proper shelter. Deciding between a camper or a tent comes down to your personal preferences, intended camping location, and level of comfort.

When opting for a tent, be sure to check that it’s designed for the specific weather you’ll be encountering. If you’re leaning toward a camper, ensure your vehicle can safely tow it and that your campsite can accommodate its size. Covering all these bases ensures your humble abode for the night will seamlessly blend into the great outdoors.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, versatile shelter, the SylvanSport GO is a comfy micro camper trailer that also doubles as a gear and toy hauler and utility trailer, making it an all-in-one solution for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s the perfect compromise between a full-on camper and a tent, providing you with both comfort and convenience.

Not Paying Heed to the Animals Around You

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of camping and forget that we’re not the only ones enjoying Mother Nature’s playground. When setting up camp, it’s important to be mindful of the wildlife around you. No one wants a surprise late-night visit by a curious bear, after all.

Store food in airtight containers and avoid leaving leftovers out in the open. Remember that non-human locals appreciate a clean campsite just as much as we do. You should also make it a point to educate yourself on the region’s indigenous animals, their habits, and any safety precautions you should take to ensure peaceful coexistence with our animal neighbors in the wild. No one wants to experience the mother of all raccoon stand-offs on their first trip.

Letting Faulty Equipment Ruin Your Trip

Imagine that after setting up camp, you take a deep breath and step back to admire your handiwork, only to find out that your portable stove won’t light. Not testing gear before packing is a common oversight that could turn a lovely evening under the stars into a cold one spent eating a meal from a can.

Familiarize yourself with each piece of equipment before your trip and double-check that everything works as it should. If you’ve borrowed equipment or purchased it second-hand, be sure to test it out first. It’s far better to expose faulty zippers in your living room than in the middle of a heavily-wooded forest. This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect, and you can save any hiccups on your trip for the charred marshmallows at the campfire.

As the sun sets on our time together, remember that everyone makes mistakes, but being prepared and informed will lead to a more enjoyable and successful camping experience. As a first-time camper, you can expect a few hiccups along the way. But more importantly, have fun and embrace the adventure that awaits!


Excited by the idea of camping but not sure if you’re ready to sleep on the ground? Learn more about SylvanSports’ lightweight camping trailers:

GO pop-up camper – sleeps up to 4 and features standing room for campers up to 6’5”

TraiLOFT – perfect for couples, this micro camper can also be used as an equipment and gear hauler

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid as a First-Time Camper


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