Last time that I went camping, I was really excited because I had found a new campfire meal recipe and I was eager to try it with my spouse and kids. We made our first camp and I chopped and prepped all the ingredients. Next, I began to gather firewood as the kids played and the wife enjoyed a brief power nap, stacking my timber and kindling just right. I even made a quick stone circle to mark my fire pit for nostalgic effect.
Next, it was time to light the fire so that I could cook my meal, but I quickly discovered that I didn’t have any firestarters. I’d forgotten both my matches and my lighter. We probably could have gone on with a cold canned meal of something else, but I wasn’t about to go the rest of the camping trip without a cigarette. Yep, that’s right, I had to trek all the way back, drive to the nearest convenience store, and come back. It wasn’t pleasant and the family still won’t let me live it down!
Don’t make my mistake and forget something important. Be sure that you’ve brought all your necessary things for camping and are ready to go.
Staying the right temperature can make a big difference between a miserable trip and a pretty good one. Bring some form of shelter, even if you’re not planning on staying long or sleeping over. Especially in the mountains, the weather can change on a dime, so it’s important to be prepared. There are different tents that you can get, each with its own purpose, pros, cons, and price tag. Get whatever works for you best.
If you’re bringing kids along who don’t go camping often, a tent has a lot of uses and instills a sense of calm and security. It can help with a child who isn’t adapting well, who needs to rest, needs a timeout or who needs to change clothes.
For your shelter, you should bring your:
- Footprint or tarp
- Tent Repair Kit
- Tent Stakes
- Air pump for any inflatable items
You never want to sleep on the ground, as the earth has a tendency to suck in all of your body heat and you can find yourself in a situation where your body can’t keep up. All shelters should have something to sleep in or on, such as a sleeping bag, bedroll, cot, air mattress, or hammock. You’ll probably want to bring along a pillow, or at least some spare clothes that can be rolled up to suffice for the task.
Camping Utility Bag
Your camping utility bag is a grab and go bag that you leave packed and contains everything that you’ll need to go camping on a dime. It’s a great way to have all of the smaller, more essential things already packed so that you can have more headspace to remember other things, or even to do more planning.
Your Camping Utility Bag Should Contain:
- First aid kit
- Cotton balls
- Antiseptics such as hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol
- Painkillers such as Aspirin or Tylenol
- Allergy medicine just in case
- Antibacterial soap
- Antibacterial wipes
- Chemical hand warmers
- Sunburn treatment, such as aloe vera
- Poison ivy treatment if in a wooded area
- Bug repellant
- Petroleum jelly as it has a variety of uses in a bind
- Hat and sunglasses
- Fire starters such as a lighter, matches, or a flint striker
- Fuel for any propane or gasoline powered devices that you might bring
- Trash bags for any situation that might arise – they can also be makeshift ponchos
- Large Ziplock bags to help deal with anything that is smelly
- Duct tape, just in case
- Pocket knife of some sort
- Light sources such as a lantern, flashlight, or more
- A battery or crank powered radio in case you’d like a bit of music or need to check the weather
- Extra snacks say for low blood sugar situations
- Map of the campground area
Personal Toiletries Bag
Personally, I like to keep my toiletries bag packed and inside my camping utility bag so that I never have to worry about it. I’ve had a couple trips where other campers forgot their bags, but because I had mine, I could share supplies with them and it wasn’t a big deal at all.
Inside this, you’ll want:
- Change of clothes
- Extra socks
- Towels and washcloths
- Soap, but I don’t recommend body wash as few campsites have on-site showers
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Grooming kits such as shaving kit, or hairbrush
- Deodorant or antiperspirant
- Toilet paper, and extra toilet paper
- Feminine products
- Any extra medications
If you’re going out where there are no built-in camping facilities, you will also want to address the issue of using the restroom. It’s pretty easy to make a portable toilet out of an old five-gallon bucket and the fanciness of such designs depend on the instructions that you’re following along on. There are also similar products that you can purchase that help address this concern, as well.
For your restroom, you will want to bring:
- Toilet paper
- Extra trash bags
- Hand sanitizer
- Something for privacy curtains like tarps
Food and Water
Lastly, you will want to be prepared for all of the necessary things for camping when it comes to keeping your body fueled up and properly hydrated. Remember to always bring extra water. I like to keep spare water jugs near my camping supplies so that I will always remember to fill them up and bring them along.
Here are some ideas when you are going to cook food on the trail
- Drinking water
- Personal water canteen or water bottle
- Napkins or paper towels
- Disposable silverware, cups, and plates
- Ice for anything that needs to be kept cold
- Tin foil, ziplock bags, and other ways to store food leftovers
- Trash bags
- Pots and pans
- Cooking instruments such as ladles, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, spatulas
- Camping stove and camping stove fuel
- Fire starters
- Fire fuel or kindling for tough situations
Last But Not Least
And of course, don’t forget to take your cell phone!