When somebody says “Aspen,” you immediately think “WOOOOOO Maroon Bells + backcountry beers!” Your partner, on the other hand, thinks, “YEAHHHH Hotel Jerome + Matsuhisa!” And, while neither one of you is wrong, these are definitely two very different approaches to the same destination…and viva la difference may not apply in this case.
Many of us here at Kelty have spent decades pimping our beloved wilderness to partners who prefer the Netflix + Chillderness. So, in the interest of fostering a Valentine’s Day weekend that involves hiking and snuggling rather than flouncing and fighting, we’ve put together a handy first-time camping checklist. Here’s how to plan a camping trip with your favorite couch potato—without breaking up.
You probably already know if your partner’s misery in the Great Outdoors will outweigh the novelty of sleeping under the stars; if this is the case, we’d suggest making those hotel/sushi reservations and calling it a day. But if you’ve already read this far, you’re holding out at least a shred of hope that our first-time camping list will help you win your partner over. If this is the case, we implore you to use ALL of your common sense when planning your trip. As in…
Listen, we love Jerry of the Day as much as the next guy—probably more. But when dumb outdoorsy mishaps strike a couple, and half of that couple is literally out of their element… well, that’s the birth of an epic argument right there. That’s why the most important part of this beginner’s guide to camping is for you to be VERY realistic about what to tackle together.
Even if you’re a seasoned backcountry expert with a king’s ransom of patience, you should still absolutely plan your trip as if both of you were beginners. Treat it like Tent Camping 101! If you were teaching a class to total newbs, you wouldn’t drag them 10 miles over scree to sleep rough and eat MREs—you’d bring the air mattress car camping, then hike two miles to a breathtaking glacial lake for a major picnic spread. Plan and pack with this balance in mind.
You ALSO probably already know which aspects of tent camping for beginners your partner will ultimately love, and which parts they might find intimidating. In the weeks before your trip, spend some time hyping up the fun bits, and respectfully addressing any fears.
For example: if your partner’s into crossfit or follows 27 nature photography Instagrams, help them calculate the calories they’ll burn or spend some time peeping pics of the place you’re going to visit. Likewise, if they’re worried about bugs or not showering, make them a little backcountry hygiene kit with travel-sized repellent, dry shampoo and no-rinse cleansing wipes. It’s all about allaying anxiety and getting them fired up to experience something new. And don’t forget to talk about the all-important, yet au naturel task of pooping in the woods. Everyone does it. But comfort comes with knowledge and appropriate PIO practices. For more info check Leave No Trace.
Trust us on this: there aren’t many appropriate surprises when you’re taking somebody camping for the first time. Things like “I made your favorite five-star dessert!” and “I brought you an extra pillow!” are 100% acceptable, but other than that…just nah, bro.
While it won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had, we strongly recommend making a detailed packing list and letting your partner be involved in the process of packing. Try to be patient with questions and disagreements, and allow your mate to bring ideas to the table—even if they’re bad ideas. Remember to keep your eye on the prize, which is hopefully opening your partner up to new experiences you can continue to share throughout your relationship.
If your partner is at all unsure about what they’re going to carry or where they’re going to sit and sleep, by all means bust that sh*t out and set it up! Making a “practice camp” in your living room or backyard is not only a fun excuse to break in camping essentials like our new Late Start tent and Tru.Comfort Doublewide sleeping bag—it’s also an easy way to teach your partner the basics of camp setup and strike in a familiar, non-intimidating environment.
To add a little spice to the evening, plop the ol’ Loveseat in front of your fireplace and snuggle up with a Bestie Blanket with bae. By the end of the evening, the only couples camping checklist box left to tick will be which boxed wine pairs best with s’mores.