Holidaying closer to home is more popular than ever and camping is a cost-effective and fun way to have a vacation
We can all agree that there are some camping essentials that will get you through an adventure in the wilderness, whether you’re intending to traverse the nation in a camper or prefer an old-fashioned tent in the great outdoors.
You could spend hours meticulously organising the most exquisite camping schedule, but without the proper equipment, a wonderful excursion into the forest can swiftly devolve.
That isn’t to say you have to run out and buy everything in the outdoor store.
It only needs a (figurative) handful of excellent gear to assure a successful vacation.
While you probably already have a flashlight and portable charger kicking around, you might want to consider investing in the campground basics like a decent camp stove and a good sleeping bag.Sure, there are hundreds of dollars worth of innovative camp gadgets out there that might be tempting to pick up, but you’re better off investing in the basics before going all out on flashy accessories and spending any extra cash filling up your cooler with craft beer and camp snacks.
This list of the best basics will help ensure your wild adventure goes off without a hitch.
How to pack for camping in different seasons:
While camping is all about getting back to the basics and appreciating nature, there’s a lot to take into account when packing for a given season. Whether you’re braving the elements or you much prefer camping in the heat of the summer (we don’t blame you!), you’ll always want to pack ample sleeping and cooking gear.
In the colder months, especially if we’re talking sub zero temperatures, you’ll probably want to consider swapping your thin nylon tent and sleeping bag for more thermal options. There are a wide variety of four-season tents that sport a thicker outer layer, but you’ll also want to look out for a sleeping pad with R-value of 4 or more as well as a sleeping bag rated at least 40°F lower than the coldest temperatures you’re expecting.
If you’re planning on camping in the springtime, come equipped with rain appropriate gear — even if the forecast looks sunny. You’ll want to double check that your tent is rated all-weather, and even if it is, we suggest either buying a tent footprint or bringing an extra tarp to help absorb any unexpected moisture in the ground. Consider picking up a rope or paracord for hanging clothes to dry should you get caught in any unexpected drizzle.
Summertime is arguably the easiest in terms of packing. Whether you’re opting to sleep under the stars or prefer the comfort of a tent, don’t forget warm clothes and a decent sleeping bag just in case the temperature drops in the evening. Otherwise, sunscreen, a hat, and moisture wicking clothing should do just fine.
How to pack for backpacking vs. car camping:
If you’re physically carrying your gear on your back to basecamp rather than toting it in the trunk of your car, you’re going to want to streamline your supplies as much as possible. No matter how cool or innovative a piece of gear can be, we promise you’ll be wishing you left it in the store once it’s weighing you down during your hike. Consider purchasing lightweight materials like down feathers over synthetic material and a flexible water bladder over a plastic or glass bottle. If you’re hiking in the summer, picking up a packable rain jacket will save you some weight.
Whether you’re car camping or backpacking, outdoor enthusiasts in bear country should always plan to store food and any smellable items securely. If bears are a concern in the area you’re camping in, either leave your food and other scented stuff in a locked car overnight, get a bear-proof canister, or tie them up in a tree the old fashioned way.
What to look out for when buying camping essentials:
When you’re considering what to bring for a trip into the wilderness, think about the necessities above all. Sure, there are tons of cool gadgets out there that would be nice to have, but your trunk (or backpack) will be filled to the brim before you know it, and all those nice-to-have products will just weigh you down and make unpacking even more of a hassle.
A good place to start before you buy a bunch of camping gear is the 10 Essentials list from the National Parks Service. This doesn’t include everything you’ll need, but gives you a good idea of items you’ll want to carry with you to keep you comfortable and safe during all your camping and hiking trips:
- Navigation — Nowadays, phones are pretty much the ultimate map, but be sure to download maps to use offline if you’ll be in an area with no service.
- Sun protection — Don’t be that person that comes home sunburnt after every camping trip. A good sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and layers will protect your skin from harsh UV rays, especially in the summer.
- Insulation — The weather can change rapidly outdoors, so ensure you have at least one extra layer to keep you warm and dry, depending on the climate you’re in.
- Illumination — Your phone flashlight will work, but a headlamp is even better.
- First-Aid — Unfortunately, injuries can (and do) happen in the outdoors, so keeping a first-aid kit with you at all times is a great way to stay prepared. Opt for a small, packable one if you’re backpacking or just don’t have a lot of room to spare.
- Fire – Sitting around the campfire is a nice way to unwind, but fires can also be used to cook. Pack waterproof matches and fire starters if you’re planning on making a fire — and always check the fire regulations of whatever area you’re in before lighting one.
- Repair kit — The NPS recommends having a repair kit with you to fix any gear that might break during the trip, but a good multi-tool will usually do the job.
- Food — This one’s self-explanatory. Whether it’s dehydrated camping food or ingredients to make a gourmet meal, double check your food and snack inventory before heading to the campsite.
- Hydration — Whether you opt for a water bottle or a water bladder, make sure you pack enough H20 for your entire trip. Picking up a portable water filter is a good idea too, especially for backpacking.
If you’re not entirely sold on the idea of recharging in the wilderness just yet, opt for budget-friendly items or consider renting higher ticket gear from your local outdoor supplies store. Many places have tents, sleeping bags, and other essentials available for rent.
Whether you’re a seasoned camper or you’re heading off on an outdoor adventure, here are best camping essentials to get your packing off to a strong start. From the highest-rated tent on Amazon to the comfiest chair around, we’ve got your bases covered.
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Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.
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