Camping 101: Gear & Planning Guide

Elisabeth Brown

Summer is almost upon us and camping season is in full swing. Interested in getting out, but not really sure what to do? No worries. With a little bit of planning and some basic gear, camping is easy and can be lots of fun.

While camping can be done super cheap with some very basic gear, it pays to invest in some quality gear that will last a long time and keep you comfortable, even if you encounter storms or colder-than-expected weather.

First things first: You’ll need a place to sleep. Tent selection can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider. First, how many people will be sleeping in the tent? A four-person tent fits four people, but you will be snuggled close with zero extra room in the tent for anything else.

Second is set-up time. Want your tent up and ready in less than 5 minutes, or are you OK with a 20-minute set up? Finally, it comes down to details. Consider tent height, ventilation, and vestibule size.

"A word of advice: Set up the tent once before heading to the campground. The last thing you want is to find out a pole is missing while at camp." – Elisabeth Brown

Sleeping bags are just as important as the tent, if not more so. Check temperature ratings to ensure a warm night’s sleep. Down bags tend to be lighter and more compact but can lose their insulating ability if they get wet. Synthetic bags are larger and heavier, but cost less and can keep you warm even if they get wet. Invest in a nice sleeping pad. It will make sleeping on the ground warmer and much more comfortable. You’ll thank me in the morning.

Next, it’s time to meal plan. Don’t let this overwhelm you. Keep it simple until you know your way around the camp kitchen: Oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit for lunch, hot dogs and beans for dinner. Once you have the basics down, get adventurous. Not much beats a fabulous meal in the great outdoors.

Local Campgrounds

Brunet Island State Park

23125 255th St., Cornell • (715) 239-6888 •

Chippewa Moraine State Rec. Area

The Interpretive Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. • 13394 Cty Hwy M, New Auburn • (715) 967-2800 • dnr.wi.gov

Coon Fork Lake County Park

Augusta, WI 54722 • (715) 286-5536 • co.eau-claire.wi.us

Country Villa Motel and Country Camping

10765 County Hwy Q, Chippewa Falls • (715) 288-6376 or (877) 459-3263 • countryvillamotelandcamping.com

Duncan Creek Campground

12528 102nd Ave., Chippewa Falls • travelwisconsin.com

Elmer’s Campgrounds

8027 Hwy 12, Fall Creek • (715) 832-6277

Harstad County Park

County Road HHH, Augusta • (715) 839-4738 • co.eau-claire.wi.us

Irvington Campground

E4176 Ct. Rd.D, Menomonie • (715) 235-2267 or (715) 505-5202 • menomoniecamping.com

Lake Wissota State Park - Camping

18127 County Highway O, Chippewa Falls • (715) 382-4574 • chippewacounty.com/maps/wissota.asp

Loon Lake Campgrounds

10279 280th Ave., New Auburn • (715) 967-2148 • loonlake-campground.com

NCN North Campground

N8390 Hwy 12, Black River Falls • (888) 345-CAMP or (715) 299-7138 • info@campncn.com • campncn.com

O’Neil Campground

14912 105th Ave., Chippewa Falls • (715) 723-6581 • office@oneilcreek.com • ONeilCreek.com

Pine Harbor Campground

7181 185th St., Chippewa Falls • (715) 723-9865 • pineharborcampground.com

Rock Lake Lodge & Campground

23015 153rd St., Bloomer • (715) 568-4370

Sandy Hill Campground

E21100 ND Road, Augusta • (715) 286-2495 • augustawi.com

Stoney Creek RV Resort

50483 Oak Grove Road, Osseo • (715) 597-2102 and 1 (888) 349-6399 • stoneycreekrvresort.com

Sunshine Valley Campground

E18250 Buse Road, Augusta • (715) 286-4222 •

Twin Springs Resort Campground

N6572 530th St., Menomonie • (715) 235-9321 • twinspringscampingresort.com

Willow River State Park

1034 County Highway A, Hudson • (715) 386-5931 • dnr.wi.gov

Great Gear to Get You Started