7 Essentials to Remember When Camping

Photo by Adrian on Unsplash

The great outdoors! With technology booming right now and a/c versions of everything we spend less time outside and more time taking pictures and watching Netflix from the comfort of our beds. Do not get me wrong here; I am a lover of these things and will always be. Taking a break from the technological world we live in is never a bad thing either. This is where camping comes into play.

While I might not be the biggest fan of camping (restless sleep and lack of toilets), I cannot deny the peace it gives to be out in the beautiful nature and away from mass society (and the pressure it puts on our shoulders). Camping is a fun adventure for everyone and, for the most part, can be done pretty inexpensively. If you are planning a camping trip with friends, family, or yourself these are what I believe are the essentials to bring when making the great outdoors your temporary home.  Don’t forget though; you still have to remember clothes and toiletries that we need wherever we travel to.

Sleeping Arrangements
This can mean several things depending on your preference and the number of people joining you on this excursion. While a tent is usually the more popular of choices, you can also do a hammock (my preference) or just a sleeping bag and the open air. Since nights outside usually become a lot colder almost anywhere you are camping a durable sleeping bag is a necessity. This will give you warmth, protect you from being eaten alive by insects, and give you a little comfort from the ground (but you’ll still know it is there).

Some people bring air up mattresses, pillows, and blankets as well but it is entirely up to your preference. If I am sleeping in a tent, I usually pack a pillow and a thicker sleeping bag for some extra cushion. A hammock, on the other hand, is a lot smaller to carry (in case you are hiking to a spot) and doesn’t give you the tight back in the morning. I’ll slither into a sleeping back, hop in a hammock, and sleep comfortably throughout the night.

While this is a given, it is also quickly forgotten in the packing routine. Trust me; needing to pee in the middle of the night becomes a lot easier if you have a flashlight to guide you on the right path. If I’m using a tent, I’ll bring a little light to tie up to the top of the tent for changing or reading before bedtime.

Bug Spray and SPF
You are human therefore you will get bitten by something and burn without these two much-needed products. If you don’t like the smell or feel of bug repellent, you can always create a homemade batch or find ones that are made with natural ingredients. Camping is fun until you get home with lobster face and red bug bites up and down your body. While those bugs can be annoying, they can also spread diseases. 

Bug spray can keep away ticks and mosquitoes which are not only creepy but have been known to spread diseases all over the world. Stay safe and keep both on hand in a little bag even when you are away from your campsite.

Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Campfire Supplies
Not all of us can be Bear Grylls and light a fire with, well, nature and nature alone. Bringing a few campfire supplies will be a necessity you didn’t even realize you needed until you go to start a fire. We usually get fire starters to get things going. You can purchase them for relatively cheap, and most can be used without kindling to get started and will even light when wet.

Other things to remember are matches and (if you are eating certain foods) wire sticks. These are usually used for marshmallows or hot dogs, but they are also great at moving logs around (but a stick in the woods will work just as well).

Food and Kitchen Ware
Bringing camp-friendly food is always a necessity seeing as how we have to eat (and again, we are not all Bear Grylls). We usually carry a big box of food (or cooler) that consists of things like oatmeal, hot dogs, fruits, granola bars, and canned soups/chili. You can also purchase meals that are specifically designed for camping such as Mountain House. These are packaged dinners that are already cooked and only need hot water to turn into a tasty meal (and they really are delicious).

When it comes to kitchenware, you can go to any outdoors store and find fantastic utensils for camping. The things you want to look for are easy to clean and light appliances that will be easy to carry back and forth. We usually have a spork (fork and spoon combo), a jet fuel (for boiling water and such), a cast iron skillet, an aero press (for coffee), and mugs for coffee and other drinks.

Water/ Water bottles
Some camping areas have places to fill up on water while other areas might not. In case this happens having a big jug of water is a must! Obviously, you might have to find a water station to fill it up if you are out for several days but it also is beneficial for things like cleaning your dishes and the quick rinse off (in case there are no showers near you). With water, you also have to keep a water bottle on hand. Since you are more exposed to the elements, the body will need more water than usual to stay hydrated.

I usually bring a couple of water bottles that I can easily attach to the bottom of my hiking bag and make sure they are at least 32oz so I can go a while without refueling. You can also buy ‘hydration bladders’ which are basically a large bladder with a nozzle to drink from. These are great for long hikes since they fit comfortably in a bag and can hold a lot more water than a conventional bottle.

First Aid Kit
I found out firsthand how necessary this is and how easy it is to overlook this. On one of my big camping trips, I went hiking in a more mountainous region and, being the klutz that I am, found myself twisting my ankle between two rocks. Luckily someone else had supplies to help my ankle until I could get to the car (and a sweet stranger who knew how to properly wrap a bandage). Having these things is definitely needed in case of emergency.

Bringing the essentials like Band-Aids, medicines, and ointments are a great start! I would also add wraps, Butterfly Band-Aids, and some form of a brace (in case of a break). While I hope no one ever has to use these things it is always a great thing to have on hand for those moments. Keeping a GPS phone (if you can) in the first aid kit is also a good idea in case you are miles from a vehicle, and you or someone is unable to move. You should always have fun while camping, but no one will have fun when safety isn’t a priority.


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