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Even if you’re the most urban of creatures, the urge to get out of the city—to camp out, in fact—can seize your imagination at any time. If you find yourself contemplating car camping for the first time, but also find the gear and the prep to be a little daunting, don’t despair. We’re here to help.
The ultimate essential for beginner campers is, of course, an experienced outdoorsy person to help you. You can find those folks teaching classes at REI. And if you’re lucky enough to have a friend with a campground reservation and a garage full of gear to share, then simply jump ahead to our handy, printable checklist of camping essentials we’ve provided at the tail end of story.