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New to camping


Hi! I’m new to camping. I’m 60, 250lbs. and 6’6”. I would like to make my first camping experience as comfortable as possible. I’m open to suggestions on equipment like a great sleeping pad, tent for 2 that’s fairly easy to get in and out of, etc. any suggestions on the basics? Thank you! 

6 Replies

Hey @Kooler! We are happy to hear you are giving camping a shot! With the amount of options out there, we know it can be rather daunting. I would recommend starting this new journey by taking a look at a couple of our buying guides to help get an idea of the sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent that you might want to start out with. We even have a guide on how to set up a comfortable campsite, which sounds right up your alley. We have a couple sleeping pads in your height range, including the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Sleeping Pad (in XX Long size) or the Nemo Roamer  Self-Inflating Pad (in the XL Wide size). Do just take into account the R-value you'd be looking for depending on the seasons you'd like to camp-- something we explain in that article above. Also, don't forget to check out our camping checklist as well to make sure that the only thing you'll have to worry about is that you might not be able to stay camping forever! See you out there!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

@Kooler How great that you're about to embark on your first camping experience! @REI-DaniaR gave you lots of good advice, I'm going to weigh in as a bigger person myself with a few tips that will be worth your time to think about. I'm 6' tall and around 275 lbs so being comfortable when sleeping is one of the most important things when camping. It is worth thinking about a cot and sleeping pad combination, it can make it much more comfortable to sleep and, although it seems odd, getting out of bed is much easier from a cot that up off the ground. The drawback, of course, is that cots take up a lot of space and can be slightly cumbersome to move around. It all comes down to your personal preference.

One thing I definitely recommend is a comfortable sleeping pad. If you're car camping (not loading all of your gear into a backpack and carrying it miles to your campsite) you can afford the space to use a sleeping pad that might be a bit bigger. As someone who is bigger, I recommend something at least 2" thick. That allows me to sleep on my side and not have my hips or shoulders hitting the ground. Pro Tip: inflate your sleeping pad to its fullest and then let it sit for a bit to allow the air inside to match the air outside. If it is colder outside of the pad the air inside can contract and you might think your pad has leak. Most sleeping pads these days have the ability to release some air while you're laying on it to really dial in the comfort.

I would also recommend checking with your local REI to see what gear they have available to rent. It can allow you to try out different options without having to purchase right away. 

I hope this helps and best of luck on your adventures!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thank you both so much for your advice. I’m open to specific brands or models that you know do and function as they should. 


Hey @Kooler! How awesome! I have had great experience and comfort using my Big Agnes sleeping pad. If you go to your local REI they can show you some different models and let you lie on them/test their comfort. I have also really loved my Jetboil for backpacking, camping, and other outings. I keep it in my car during winter roadtrips in case of an emergency. I hope this helps! 


@rachaelevebrings up a great option! One of the best things about visiting an REI store is being able to test out the gear! I have been known to set up a few tents on my own visits (LOL). Along with the awesome advice you have already received, I would highly suggest to book a Personal Outfitting Appointment with your local store. An appointment is a great way to set up a time that works best for you and have your own personal Green Vest Associate to go over gear with! It's always nice to get hands on time with the products and have someone explain the benefits of each one. I hope you enjoy your upcoming camping trips! Happy Trails!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@ey @Kooler, it looks like you're getting a lot of great advice from REI employees as well as community members! Just a friendly reminder, from our User Guidelines, that "only posts from a user with the “REI Employee” rank should be regarded as employee-generated content." Have fun with finding the right equipment!