A Beginner’s Guide to Camping

As the air turns crisp, nine-to-fivers’ daydreams are changing from beaches and pool parties to hikes and fall foliage. Unfortunately, a beach trip is a relatively easy undertaking in comparison to the equipment and information needed to pull off a successful camping trip.

So how does a weekend warrior tackle his or her first hiking experience? Read on:

Rent Gear Instead of Buy

Renting gear is a great, because if it turns out you hate camping, you will not have dropped upwards of $1,000 on tents, sleeping bags, and propane grills. Most outfitters offer a wide range of products tailored to your group size and terrain.

Major retailers REI and EMS are great resources for rentals. They offer everything from tents and camping stoves to Nordic skis and snowshoes, which can usually be reserved and picked up within days of your departure.

Other options: OutdoorsGeek.com, LowerGear.com and peer-to-peer rental site GearCommons.com. These sites are best for trips planned well in advance.

Map Your Hike

Start by deciding the length and difficulty of your hike. A general rule of thumb is that 1.5 miles per hour is a safe and attainable speed for relatively flat terrain. Then search for popular hikes near your chosen destination.

The Popular Trails feature on Trails.com is a favorite resource. If you’re headed to a national park, check out the National Park Service website for a wealth of info, including hiking trails and top attractions.