I think a lot of people are intimidated by camping because they think that they need a lot of stuff, a lot of gear, or they think they have to spend a lot of money to get that stuff. I started camping with the comforter from my bed as the sleeping bag. I just folded my comforter in half and then half again, and then rolled it up super tightly, and then wrapped the whole thing in string. It wasn't ideal, and it was kind of a little bit heavier than most sleeping bags, because most sleeping bags are made to be light and easy to carry. But, I did it that way.
You don't need a lot to get started camping. You need a sleeping bag or a blanket. You need a tent, unless you're willing to just sleep out in the open, which, if you're a beginner camper, you're probably not. You need something to deal with water because water is one of the hardest things to come by when you're camping and it's one of the most important things that you need.
You need to figure out how you're going to deal with that. If you're car camping, you can bring water with you no problem. If you're hiking into your site, that's when it becomes a little bit of an issue. You can bring your water in. You can plan and figure out how much water you need each day. I would say you need a minimum of three to four bottles a person for drinking and cooking, maybe even five or six.
Or, you can get some kind of water purifier. I have a water purifier that's a pump. It's kind of annoying because you have to pump everything. All the water that goes through it you're pumping, so you're working for every bit of water you have. You can use iodine tablets. You need to figure out what you're going to do about water and what kind of investment you want to make. There's a pen that sterilizes water. It's fantastic. It's light. If you're camping near a river, you get a bunch of water, you put it in a cup or a bucket, you put the pen in, and then you've got drinkable water. It's a little bit more expensive. You have to just think about what solution works for you.
You need a tent. You need a sleeping bag. You need a way to get water. You're going to need a backpack unless you're car camping, which you can just throw everything in a garbage bag. If you're going camping in the woods and you're doing primitive camping, you're hiking in, you're going to need something to get all of that stuff in.
Then some other stuff you might need - you might like a tarp. A tarp is a really good thing to have because if it's raining, you don't have to get stuck in your tent. You can hang the tarp and you've got a place to hang out outside of your tent. Also some tents don't come with a rainproof bottom, so you might need the tarp to put a tent on to make sure water doesn't get in. You might want a sleeping pad which just makes sleeping in a tent a little more comfortable. You might want a headlamp. You might want a camping stove.
There's like little extras that you might want to get and invest in. But, to do the most basic camping, to just go for a weekend, give it a try on an easy hike in, you really just need a sleeping bag, a tent, a backpack, and a way to drink water.