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Camping can really fun—until you realize that you forgot to bring water, or you don’t have a mug for your morning coffee. I am the type that overprepares (just ask my husband…) but inevitably I find myself wishing I had brought a dish towel or a sharp knife—both of which you should make sure you have. I’ve put together some suggestions for the more specialized items you’ll want on your trip.

The most important thing about a tent? Set it up before your first camping trip. You don't want to pull into your destination at dusk, poles flying everywhere, with no idea how they go together. Also, you need a tarp underneath your tent—but make sure you tuck it in beneath the footprint. Because if it sticks out, and it rains, it will efficiently collect water in a pond underneath. My first tent as an adult was a two-person Eddie Bauer, which I still have. I like them for compact ease-of-set-up at a reasonable price. The Stargazer 2($369) has vestibules in the front and back for gear, and steep walls (so more space inside, if you need to keep your pack in with you). Color-coded poles make it easy to set up fast—really fast (like five minutes), if you’ve practiced ahead of time.

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