If you find you’re having difficulty making a decision, or start to feel flustered with the process, leave and come back another day. Don’t give up! Avoid spending much time studying technical specifications and minutiae, unless you enjoy that sort of thing. Don’t worry too much about brands as long as you’re in a store which carries only quality merchandise.
It’s possible that several different models or designs of a product may be adequate for your needs. Just make sure the item fits properly, when size is an important factor. A good salesperson should be able to assist you in sorting through alternatives, and may be able to help you arrive at a decision.
A good guidebook will provide useful and often valuable information about the area you’re interested in, including trail data and camping information. Many guidebooks are oriented toward a particular activity like hiking or canoeing. The focus is also usually on a limited geographical area, often a single park or wilderness area, although there are guidebooks which cover an entire state. A guidebook may or may not come with good maps. When maps aren’t included you’ll have to obtain them separately.
Before visiting any park or area of interest it’s wise to call or write directly to ask for current information, including camping regulations (while these are listed here in Part II, rules are always subject to change). If you haven’t been able to get hold of a map from other sources, request one, along with any other printed information that is available.