Test your gear. If you’ve just bought or borrowed a tent, set it up at home to ensure you know how to put it up and how to pack it away. If it isn’t a new tent, check it’s still in top condition and that you have all the necessary poles and pegs. Take note of how the tent is packed up so that you can roll or fold it the same way when you have to get it back in the bag. If you’re taking a stove, clean and test that too. It’s better to identify missing equipment or faults at home than on your adventure.
Research your campsite. Check what facilities are available. Are there showers, barbeques, shade options and access to clean and safe drinking water? This will help you decide what to pack and what to leave at home.
Check the weather, including any fire bans. It’s best to pack for changing weather conditions, so don’t forget thermals and waterproof rainwear. Prepare for the worst weather conditions, but expect the best. Also, try to pack smartly. One rain jacket will do the job – you don’t need three!
Be prepared for the worst. Tell friends and family where you are going and how long you’ll be. Make sure you carry some money and a phone in case of emergency.
Take good lighting. While it may sound romantic to get about by the moon or fire light, the reality is you don’t want to be cooking, trying to find the toilet or hearing strange noises in pitch dark. Take a torch! You can hang a head-lamp or torch from your tent ceiling to illuminate the whole tent (also keep one near the entrance so it's easy to find at night).
Remember the small things. Matches in a waterproof container are a must and don’t forget hand sanitisers, soap and face wipes. Pack a brush and shovel for sweeping out your tent before pack-up. And if you’re taking a bottle of wine, don’t forget the corkscrew!
Start early. Always pitch your tent and set up camp before night falls.
Choose your site carefully. Pick a spot with flat ground. Avoid camping under trees. If you are camping near trees, look around first for warning signs of rotting branches or fallen limbs. Don’t camp where there’s a possibility of branches falling on your tent.
Stay warm. In chilly weather, fill up a water bottle with hot water and use it as a hot water bottle.
Store food securely. Keep food in secure containers and coolers – outside of your tent. You do not want to attract nocturnal visitors to your campsite, especially not inside your tent.