How to Organize a Camping Trip with Your Friends
Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. compiles a guide to group camping with questions to ask yourself, things to bring, and strategies for planning the perfect trip.
Camping trips are a great way to explore new spaces on a budget. They allow you to escape hectic city life and enjoy a serene, peaceful, and, more often than not, beautiful place while engaging in some of our favorite outdoor activities. Adding your closest friends into the mix is the cherry on top and will surely lead to a good time. However, organizing a camping trip with friends can be a bit messy. So here are some questions to ask yourself, things to bring along, and research to do to make sure your trip runs smoothly!
Determine Who is Going
The first step in organizing a camping trip with your friends is solidifying the list of attendees. How many people will be going? Where are they all located? Maybe you all live in the same city and can easily meet up. I recently organized a camp/roadtrip with three other friends and we all lived in different states. We knew we had to fly into the same city to meet each other and venture out from there.
Regardless, determining who is going is essential to deciding the location of where you will be camping.
Location, Location, Location
Over your next Zoom call, decide where you will be camping. Maybe you want to stay local and drive. Maybe you want to fly to an international destination that has been on your travel list for a while. Deciding where you want to go is the next important step in organizing a camping trip amongst friends.
Now that you know who is coming with you and where you are going, it is time to research. Here is a list of questions you will want to answer before heading out:
- What is the budget for our trip? Will we stay at designated campsites or free BLM land?
- Do we want a campsite with amenities (i.e. potable water and bathrooms)?
- What will the temperature be when we get there? This will affect the gear you bring with you.
- Does this campsite allow dogs?
- How many people/cars can one campsite fit? Do we need to reserve more than 1? This will depend on how many people you are camping with.
- How long are we camping for?
- Is there a dishwashing station?
- Is there a fire ban active in the area?
- Are there food lockers available? Do we need bear canisters?
- What are the animals like in the area?
- Will there be service for my phone GPS or should I bring other navigation sources?
- Are there ticks/snakes?
Gathering Your Gear
Now that you have a better understanding of what you will have access to, start gathering gear. Think about tents, sleeping bags, and pads depending on the weather, enough food and water, extra layers, a first aid kit, lanterns/headlamps, and of course a large cookstove and other kitchen items to make large camp meals for you and your friends.
(PSA: Please drink responsibly when out in the wilderness!)
This is another great time to hop on a Zoom call and take inventory of what everyone has. Maybe one member has a large pot they can bring. Maybe someone else has a large enough tent for all of you or a few smaller ones. Rather than buying new gear, take stock of what you have.
Here are some great gear recommendations for camping in a large group. Need a large tent? The Eureka Copper Canyon can easily fit 12 people, has two gear hammocks, two doors and vestibules, and three poles. This cabin-style, free-standing tent is great for large parties—just make sure your campsite can accommodate it.
The Coleman Inflatable Queen Size Mattress is a budget-friendly, luxury camping sleeping pad for two people. You can definitely fit a few of these in the Eureka tent!
The Coleman Triton 2 Burner Stove is perfect for group camping to make large meals! These are easily portable, extremely durable, and have been tried and tested many times. Want something slightly fancier? Check out the Camp Chef Explorer Stove with two burners that will make you feel like you're cooking at home.
Bring along the Camp Chef Cast Iron Deluxe Dutch Oven to make some fresh bread, camp brownies, or practically anything else.
Another great option for budget campers is renting gear at their local REI.
Are you all taking one car or multiple? Are you flying to meet your friends? Regardless, pack up all the gear you will need and head on your way. If you are packing it all in your car, no need to worry too much about space. But packing up your backpacking pack is an art form really, and requires a technique.
Think about your pack in three zones: bottom zone, core zone, and top zone. Then you have external pockets and loops to attach gear. The bottom zone is good for bulkier items, the core zone is good for denser and heavier items, and the top zone is good for bulkier items you may need to access easily.
Before you all go out into the wilderness, send someone from home your itinerary. Safety purposes aside, this is a great way to hold on to your trip so you can do it again or share the plans with someone else so they can enjoy it for themselves.
When You Arrive
Don’t let your fun start when you get to camp—traveling to the destination should be fun! On my car camping/road-tripping trip, we were driving through Crested Butte, Colorado, blasting Celine Dion's It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, and enjoying the insane wildflowers and lush forests on the mountain. Still to this day, it is one of my favorite moments of the trip—sitting in the car with my friends, crying through the song, laughing, and probably being slightly annoying to an outsider. A good song, a beautiful road to drive on, and friends are all you need to have fun.
But! Once you do arrive, set up camp. No need to do that in the dark. Get cooking, play some games, go swimming or for a short hike, and enjoy each other's company.
Luxury Items to Bring
18 feet of string lights that add a sense of ambiance to your campsite? Count me in. Check out the Luci String Solar Lights that can hold a charge for up to 20 hours.
Not everyone in your party likes to wilderpoop or wilderpee? Check out this easily portable Reliance Luggable Loo Toilet for some added comfort to your camping trip. Pair it with this Stansport Privacy Shelter that can also be used for changing clothes.
Speaking of hygiene, the Nemo Heliopolis Shower Tent is a great luxury item to bring along (especially in summer). Don’t forget the Nemo Heliopolis Pressure Shower to go with it! After a long, sweaty hiking day, jump in and rinse off! Or jump into a river if there is one nearby.
My last luxury item to bring along on a friend's camping trip is the Eagles Nest Double Hammock that is perfect for lounging, reading, and napping under the sun.
So, where are you and your friends headed next—and can I come? Group camping is not only great for bonding and team building but can be a great space for self-reflection, deep thought, beautiful scenery, and some forest bathing! I encourage everyone to push past our comfort zones, sleep with the trees, and create new memories. If you have any questions on finding the right gear for your next camping trip, reach out to me or one of my fellow Camping & Hiking experts here on Curated for free, personalized advice and recommendations. We love chatting about all things outdoors!