Handy checklist for what to take camping

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what to pack when camping

There was a joke making the rounds a few years ago: A man walked into a store to buy batteries. What he left with was a full set of camping gear, boat, and no batteries. What makes this joke funny is that we can all relate.

We’ve all overspent when shopping before…and with camping gear, it’s even easier. There are a ton of useful gadgets that promise to make your trip a lot easier. The problem is that the cost and weight start adding up quickly.

That’s why we’ve created this handy-dandy list of essentials for your next camping trip.

Clothing

A pretty obvious one when camping is taking the correct clothing. Be sure to research the area you are going and pack the right clothing. Always pack a few spare items incase your clothes get wet or overly dirty but don’t over do it. Often when camping at the beach, you end up spending more time in just a pair of shorts or swimmers and don’t touch half the clothes in your bag. Also remember at night it’s likely going to get cold, and when camping in a tent you don’t have much insulation so pack enough warm sleepwear.

High-Quality Tent

Don’t skimp. If necessary, wait until you’ve got enough money to get a good brand. Your tent must be waterproof and easy to set up. Also notable: Sure—a “four-person tent” will sleep four people…if they’re packed like sardines. Get a six-man family tent instead.

Lighting

If you live in the city, it’s scary how dark the wilderness is at night. When you have to head into the bushes for a call of nature, you’ll want a good flashlight or battery-operated lantern; you’ll also need lighting in the tent. If you are serious about camping and also want the pleasure of electricity consider taking a generator or invest in some quality 12v camping solar panels.

Shovel

A small hand-held shovel can be your best friend when in the wild. You can use it to dig a fire pit, latrine, holes for the pegs, and so on.

First Aid Kit

You’ll want a lot of different-sized, water-proof bandages, insect repellent, gauze, swabs, and antibiotic ointment. If you already have a kit, make sure that any expired items are replaced and replenish low stocks. Also, include a space blanket; these fold up small and are useful to ward off hypothermia. If the area has poisonous snakes around, anti-venom is a good idea.

Bedding

Again—spend a bit more here. There’s nothing worse than sleeping on the ground with a root digging into your back. Inflatable or foam camping mattresses are more comfortable, but not entirely necessary; a camping stretcher will keep you elevated and off the ground.

If you decide you want the mattress, get a high-quality, self-inflating one. When choosing sleeping bags, consider the season. If you’re camping in the cold, you’ll need one with a higher thermal rating.

A Cooler or fridge

This is obviously to keep your more perishable items fresh and safe to eat. You’ll need an ongoing supply of ice, though, or daily access to a 12v camping fridge/freezer, to refreeze ice packs or water bottles (to use as ice packs).

Something Reliable to Cook On

If you rely on collecting firewood to cooking with, you might be in for a hungry night. What if it’s been raining? What if all the wood you find is still green? A two-burner, gas-powered camp stove is a reliable option and won’t add too much extra bulk.

A Fold-up Table

The best camping tables are lightweight, and they fold up to carry. Trust us; this is one item you don’t want to be without. Yes, you can do all your food prep on the ground…as long as you don’t mind bending and having bugs crawl all over your burgers.

Camping Chairs

Again, these are essential. The only time we leave them behind is when we’re going on a serious hike. It’s not nice sitting on the ground after the sun has gone down—do yourself a favor and get a chair instead. Having a good camping chair to sit back, relax and watch the sun go down is priceless.

Something to Wash Dishes or Clothes In

You see a lot of programs on TV how people in rural communities wash clothes and dishes in the river. Have you ever tried doing that yourself? Not fun and not practical. Pack a small plastic tub to wash the dishes in—you’ll be glad that you did.

Final Notes

That’s our list of essentials. Got any that you think should be added? Let us know about it in the comments.

Maureen Spencer

Maureen Spencer

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