We’re not all experienced campers or hikers (myself included). And even if you’ve camped once or twice at a festival or a mate’s birthday weekend, some of us live in the inner city and/or have housemates, meaning we don’t have the luxury of storing tents, mattresses, tarps and camping stoves.

So what to do when we feel the call of the wild (or get invited to another one of these last-minute birthday-slash-camping trips)? From tent rentals to camping hacks, there are a stack of services that’ll do the heavy lifting for you, including this handy list of everything you’ll need to grab before you go.

A woman looks out at the valley from Pulpit Rock Lookout

Pulpit Rock lookoutBlue Mountains National Park

Denise Kwong / Instagram @twistdee

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    Get a tent (or roof) over your head

    Tim Clark

    There’s no need to buy a tent if you can’t spare the cash or haven’t got the storage space. That’s where camping rentals come in. The folks at Life’s An Adventure and Sydney Camping Hire will sort you out with everything you need. If you want something even easier, Camp Now rents beginner-proof packages designed for common camping occasions, taking the guesswork out completely (I’m into this, because I’m always busy). Campify hires out RVs, which take tents out of the equation completely in favour of a comfy caravan, motorhome or trailer experience – basically glamping on a reasonable budget.

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    All the essentials

    The whole point of camping is to get back to nature and get back to basics, but the reality is you still need survival essentials like a sleeping bag, camping chair and bug spray. Take this checklist with you when you run out to late-night shopping.

    You can pick up most of this stuff at Anaconda (camping gear), Kathmandu (gear and clothes), Bunnings (BBQ gear, tarps and a host of other handy stuff), Rebel Sport (clothes, shoes and sports gear) and Kmart, Target or Big W for the kitchenware and any miscellaneous bits and pieces. Don’t forget to bring some fun stuff, too: like a speaker for music, a deck of cards, a frisbee and a footy and whatever else you like doing to unwind – or socialise as the case may be.

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    Camp chow

    Tim Clark

    At the risk of sounding like Jamie Oliver, you don’t want to do more than bung a bit of meat or veg on the BBQ so you can spend the rest of the time on good conversation and throwing back a couple of bevs. Check out our all-time favourite camp meals for some A+ inspiration. The bulk of your food should be stuff that won’t go off (think trail mix, tinned veg, sliced bread, canned tuna and crackers), and should be kept in sealed plastic or glass containers to keep critters away. And don’t forget water. Heaps and heaps of water. You’ll need a few litres per person per day, but do the research before you pack: hiking will affect how much you drink, and some campsites will have a tap on deck.

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    Be a good bushmate and leave no trace

    Tim Clark (2016)

    We’ve all had that housemate who doesn’t clean up after themselves (passive aggressive notes on the fridge, anyone?), and leaving rubbish in nature is an even worse move. Pack in and pack out, always: food scraps included. Wrappers and half-eaten sausages attract animals who will either swallow something bad for them (like a poisonous food or plastic) or develop a relationship with humans that could further endanger them. Put your rubbish in a bag and if there are no bins then take it with you. Never put your rubbish or food scraps in the fire. For more info and options, check out the Australian Skills and Ethics guidelines by Leave No Trace.

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    Camping doesn’t have to be super hard

    Adrian Mascenon

    If you have a say in it, choose a campsite that has amenities that make life easier, like running water, picnic tables, BBQs, toilets and showers. You can build up to some more self-sufficient adventures once you get a taste for what camping can do for your soul.

    MVP Options:

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    Camping hacks

    Tim Clark

    Now for the fun part: our favourite camping hacks.

    1. Make some super-easy solar lanterns that light up automatically when it gets dark.
    2. Throw some sage on your campfire to keep mosquitos away.
    3. But if you do get bitten, use deodorant or paw paw cream on your mozzie bites to stop them from itching.
    4. Make eggs portable by cracking them into a water bottle. Then just pour them out as needed. And make sure you keep them cool in an esky.
    5. Bring a small tub with you to wash up your kitchen bits and bobs.
    6. Use corn chips instead of kindling to get your fire roaring (and use the leftovers for nachos, obvs).
    7. Hang up a fabric shoe rack to keep all your bits and pieces off the ground (like matches, cutlery and kitchenware).
    8. Sew a bar of soap into a piece of towel for a portable self-soaping loofah.
    9. On that shower tip, make a DIY shower with a water bottle and a watering can.
    10. Bring a microfibre towel for an ultra-absorbent, light-weight alternative to a bath towel.
    11. Build your own camping bluetooth speaker. You can go true DIY and do it the harder – aka the more affordable – way, or buy a kit that’s got all the parts ready to go.
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    Be safe, tho!

    Couple drinking tea on the mountain edge

    Blue Mountains Wentworth Falls

    Wentworth FallsBlue Mountains National Park

    Tim Clark / Instagram @timclark1

    -33.71667, 150.36667

    Last, but definitely not least: no matter how much of a rush you’re in, make sure you read the safety tips before you set off and observe what’s going on weather-wise/check for any key alerts for the duration of your adventure.

    It doesn’t cost anything to be respectful; play nice and pay attention to park specific directions and any advice from staff. They’re there for a reason. Happy camping, happy campers!