Camping 101: Gear & Planning Guide

Get your family outdoors this season with some simple planning and basic camping gear.

by Elisabeth Brown

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.

Mountain Smith Bear Creek 4 Tent

Mountain Smith Bear Creek 4 Tent

Quick and easy to set up, sleeps 4.

Coleman Weathermaster 10 Tent

Coleman Weathermaster 10 Tent

Lots of room for the whole family, 2 rooms, sleeps 10.

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.

North Face Wasatch 45 Degree Sleeping Bag

North Face Wasatch 45 Degree Sleeping Bag

Synthetic rectangular bag.

Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

Kelty Cosmic Down 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

Down mummy bag.

Alps Sleeping Pad

Alps Sleeping Pad

Provides comfort and insulation from the ground.

Eno Singlenest Hammock

Eno Singlenest Hammock

Lounging at its best!

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.

Pie Iron

Pie Iron

Endless easy meals cooked over hot coals. Personal favorites include stuffed french toast and pizza pie.

Firebuggz

Firebuggz

Fun way to cook hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire - fishing pole style!

Jetboil

Jetboil

Need coffee first thing in the morning? With Jetboil, you'll have hot water in under two minutes.

Hydroflask

Hydroflask

Excellent for both hot and cold drinks.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Find your way around camp in the dark.

Elisabeth Brown is an Eau Claire native with a biology/environmental science degree from UW-Eau Claire. She spent several year working as a wildlife technician in central Idaho, where she spent countless days backpacking and camping in the wilderness. She currently manages the camping department at Scheels.


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