The Ultimate Camping Guide

family gathered around campfire camping

Camping is a wonderful way to make family memories in the great outdoors. Camping can be as simple as tossing a sleeping bag into a tent and heading into the woods. It can also be complicated—and require quite a bit of planning, packing, and organization—not to mention specialized equipment.

The universe of tents, chairs, coolers, camp cooking and lighting options can make the prospect of going camping for the first time seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be. At its most essential, a successful camping experience results from preparing a few fundamentals and creating safe, comfortable areas to sleep, hang out and prepare food.

The Bass Pro Shops Ultimate Camping Guide is designed to help you do just that—enjoy camping. It is formulated to help navigate the landscape of gear, accessories and camping styles to find the combination that is right for you. The result: outfitting yourself to create wonderful camping memories with your family now and into the future.

This resource is divided into four sections: tents, camping chairs, lighting for camping and family camping tips and gear guide. Each section links to a full article that provides an in-depth breakdown of the category along with some tried and true product recommendations and insight into how they come together to produce a great camping experience.

Family Camping: Tips & Gear Guide

family camping tips and gear guide

The takeaway:

Our first and most important tip for family camping? Do it! Go camping with your kids. They will enjoy it and so will you.

Most fundamentally camping success comes down to creating a comfortable, functional campsite. This involves three fundamentals:

  1. Creating a Comfortable, Dry Place to Sleep—think tent, sleeping bags, pillows and maybe a sleeping mat or cot.
  2. Creating a Comfortable, Fun Hang Out Area—think camp chairs, a table, a fire pit, and maybe some protection from biting insects.
  3. Making Sure You Can See at Night—think combination of ambient lighting (lanterns), directed lighting (flashlights and headlamps) and areal lights for the campsite.

Combine these with a few important pieces of physical preparation and you’re all set.

  1. Food and Drink—think coolers to store what you need at camp and to take with you on daytrips, containers for food and water, and camping utensils and dinnerware. Don’t forget the coffee!
  2. Fire and Cooking—think campfire preparation, hardware to cook on your campfire or a camp stove and camp kitchen set up.
  3. Being prepared for whatever camping throws your way—we’ve compiled a list of evergreen camping supplies that will help you make the most of your experience.

We’ve also included a few general rules to help you determine what type of campsite is best for you… and when you might be your best time to use it. Spoiler alert: the colder and more remote your camping destination is, the more gear you’ll need to bring with you!

Read the complete Family Camping: Tips & Gear Guide.

Guide to Tents

guide to tents

The takeaway:

Tents are divided into three main categories: family tents, adventure tents and hunt camp tents. Tents within each category are designed with features that make them perform for their purpose.

Family Camping Tents

Family camping tents provide great value. You can compare family tents by price, the number of people they can accommodate and the materials they are made of. Dome and cabin tent configurations are among the most common family tent set ups.

Family Camping Tent recommendations:

Bass Pro 4-Person Dome tent is our most popular family tent. A good, functional tent that assembles quickly and provides a great value.

Cabela’s West Wind 4-Person Dome tent brings a number of high-performance attributes into the family camping space. It features upgraded waterproofing, improved mesh screening, and is designed to perform well in windy and wet conditions.

Bass Pro Shops 10-Person Cabin tent creates a great space for a weekend getaway. With a 10’x14’ footprint and a ceiling height of 84”, this option provides plenty of space for people and gear.

Adventure Camp Tents

Adventure camp tents are designed for use off the beaten path. Compactible, lightweight and high performance, adventure tents are made to be taken with you—in your backpack.

Adventure Camp Tent recommendations:

The Ascend Nine Mile 1-Person Backpacking Tent (it’s also available in a 2-person tent) headlines our adventure tent offerings. The 9 Mile is made with high performance materials—aluminum poles, polyester rain cover, and compression stuff sack—and designed to provide as much space as possible while keeping it light and compact.

Hunt Camp Tents

Hunt Camp tents are defined by two styles: put up and leave for the season or backpackable tents that combine portability and protection form the elements.

Hunt Camp Tent recommendations:

The Cabela’s Ultimate Alaknak is a modern take on the classic outfitter style tent. Available in three configurations (12’x12’, 12’x20’ and 13’x27’), the Alaknak delivers a spacious, durable basecamp experience.

The Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model Geodesic tent uniquely combines the ruggedness and durability you’d need while hunting in the backcountry with the portability you’d need to bring the tent with you. Available in 4, 6, and 8-person configurations, this is another ultra-rugged 4-season tent.

Read the complete Guide to Tents.

Guide to Camping Chairs

guide to camping chairs

The takeaway:

These days, the options for camping chairs are awesome—and comfortable. No matter what you plan to do, you can find a chair to exactly fit your needs. From the Ascend Rest/Light Camp Chair that weighs less than 2.5 pounds and can pack into your backpack to the Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman Lounger that comfortably supports up to 400 pounds, we’ve got a camping chair set up for anyone!

Read the Guide to Camping Chairs.

Lighting Guide for Camping

lighting guide for camping

The takeaway:

By covering three bases—ambient lighting, directed lighting and areal lighting—you can light up the night. Your camping lighting pack will likely include a combination of:

  1. Lanterns—great for lighting large spaces, tents and dinner tables
  2. Flashlights—a good all-around flashlight and a few introductory flashlights for the kids
  3. Headlamps—great for lighting your path and keeping your hands free
  4. Area lights—like string lights to illuminate your campsite and add to the adventure

Read the Lighting Guide for Camping.

The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Camping Experience

For more than 50 years Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s have been outfitting families for outdoor adventure. We are committed to service and value, and to offering all of the products and gear you need to prepare for favorite brand of outdoor adventure—be it camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, boating or some other form.

If you are an experienced camper, we have the products and equipment to round out your pack. If you are looking to take your family camping for the first time, we have everything you need to hit the woods. In either case, our friendly camping Outfitters are experts who can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.