From my perspective, the less time involved in planning, shopping, packing and preparing for a camping trip the better. Camping is relatively simple, heck our ancestors “camped” for thousands of years. How bad could it be? That simple answer can range from easy to catastrophic depending on some key tips you should keep in mind for your next camping trip. Hopefully our camping list will make your next camping trip a success.
1. Be Adaptable, Be Patient, Be Kind, Be Zen
Try to keep things in perspective. You’re going to camping to relax and get away form the stresses of every day life, why stress yourself out, not to mention your friends, significant other, family, etc., before the trip has even started.
We all know Walmart/Target/Costco/Wherever You Shop is a pain in the ass… when isn’t it though? Try to get yourself into the camping frame of mind. All those fools at the store that are frustrating you? They are the trial through which you must persevere to win. Just smile, and commiserate with the fact that all those poor suckers, er people, will be staying home and being sheeple for the weekend.
2. Be Prepared, But More Importantly Be Adaptable and Bring a Good Attitude
Like I said, camping is a fairly simple affair and often overthought (says the man who makes lists of everything haha). In my humble opinion more than anything else its about being adaptable, patient and kind. Heck, this is why I bring my kids camping. What better way to prepare yourself, and your children, for the real world than learning to be resourceful, adaptable and self sufficient.
Life will throw curve balls and preparing for a vacation with hotels, let alone bringing yours with you will be no exception. There are many, many complete clear and concise camping lists available online but ultimately camping is not about all the gear, the food (well maybe a little), the forgotten essential items… its about learning to make use of what you have. Just stay focused on the positives and keep looking forward to the rewards of an adventure well travelled.
3. Be Prepared Some More
Did I say earlier that I write a lot of lists? I have been camping for over 30 years and I still make lists. I don’t really need a list but it does help. Regardless of lists or no lists you will always overlook or forget what you think is an essential item. Don’t sweat it. Camping is about simplifying. So if its not the heart medication, or one of the kids left behind then let it go. Seriously, LET IT GO.
4. Dress in Layers, and Some More Layers
If there is one thing that will ruin a camping trip its being cold or wet. Regardless of the time of year, or your chosen camping destination, I always bring multiple layers of clothing. And by multiple I mean extras. Extra everything. To the point that my wife thinks I over pack. Even in the desert it may be 95° during the day and then dip down to near freezing at night. Even if your sleeping bags not up to snuff you can where long johns and two pairs of socks to bed. Remember, dry clean clothing is the easiest and most effective way to control your body temperature. Especially if you run out of wood before morning.
5. Bring the Basics and Build from There
You don’t have to have every new camping item on the market and a lot of camping gear can pull double duty thereby reducing your load. Over the years I have accumulated camping gear that addresses certain pain points that I have discovered on the prior trip. So, each and every camping trip I tend to buy a new item for my camping arsenal. This way you can slowly build up a good set of gear without breaking the bank. Use this and other camping lists to compile an accurate idea of what you really need.
Every camping trip experience or location is unique (hopefully) but regardless of your destination there are some basic gear you must have for every camping trip. I have included bare essentials list below that list items that I always make sure are packed in bins, ready to go in the garage.
The Bare Essentials Camping List
- Tent, tarp, and sleeping bag. An extra tarp never hurts.
- A pot, pan, dishes, utensils, propane stove and fire-starting materials (you never know when fires will be prohibited).
- Lanterns, flashlights, and more lanterns (I switched to LED lanterns and never looked back).
- A knife and some rope (paracord is my favorite).
- Collapsible water jug and plenty of water (or get gallon size jugs for drinking, cooking and
- Energy rich, easily prepared filling foods and snacks (eggs, bagged/marinated meat, baked beans, rice/pasta, pb and j, sandwich fixing, oatmeal, coffee!, etc.).
- Plenty of clothing (a good rule of thumb in temperate areas is enough for two to three layers daily).
- A tight-closing cooler and cooler bags (for drinks and transporting/storing new ice).
- Wet Naps, more wet naps, paper towels, soap, foil and garbage bags.
- A rug/carpet remnants (I always bring a 6×8 carpet for in front of my tent).
- A grill grate and charcoal (theres nothing like grilling over charcoal on a homemade rock barbecue).
- Last, but not least, a good first aid kit that includes sun block and insect repellent.
For more concise camping gear lists look at some of the endless camping lists available on Google, or this concise camping list here.
6. Set a Budget and Mean It
Budgeting is never my favorite thing but unless your rich you can quickly exceed your spending limits and nothing sets a mood like being overdrawn in your checking account. Start big and work your way down. Work on the essentials so you can slowly start adding bells and whistles to your camping repertoire. Always factor in the most necessary items into your budget first, like food, gas and campsite fees (more on free camping in an upcoming blog post). From there you can work your way down the wish list.
Now that you have a good starting point with a great attitude, realistic budget and camping list there is nothing stopping you but picking a destination. Camping is like anything learned. The more you do it the better you get at it. It’s never too late to experience the joys of camping. Take a look at one of our blog posts for some ideas, make a plan and get ready for your next big adventure. Stop spending time reading blogs about camping and get out there!