If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood, chances are, experiencing the sights, smells, and sounds of the wilderness are something you crave from time to time. After all, nothing can compare to the peace of being in the middle of the woods, miles away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. Camping can become one of the most rewarding activities you can invest your time in. That is if you prepare adequately.
If you’re a beginner camper reading this, then you are on the right track. The first thing a beginner camper should do is to come up with a checklist of things to bring to any major outdoor adventure. You wouldn’t want to get all excited about a trip and finally get there, only to find out that you’ve forgotten an important item, like a sleeping bag or insect repellent. This can only spoil an experience that should be fun. Set up a savings account specifically for camping-related purchases so you’ll always have an allotted budget.
The Essential Checklist of Camping Necessities
To prevent having an inconvenience-ridden camping trip and ensure that your experience is one that you’ll remember for a long time, here’s a checklist of items you should bring along:
Bringing a carefully-selected batch of clothes can mean the difference between a comfy night’s rest and an uncomfortable sleepless night. What kind of clothes you bring will depend on what your destination’s weather is like. For hot weather, you’re going to need breathable shirts and shorts with a fisherman’s hat and maybe some sunglasses. Cold weather would require thicker and multiple layers of clothes. Wear heavy-duty hiking shoes/boots for those long walks, and bring some swimming trunks for those spontaneous dips. And of course, don’t forget to pack extra underwear.
Unless you are absolutely certain that you have adequate knowledge of the flora and fauna of the area you are visiting, it is highly advisable that you bring your own food. This can be in the form of canned goods, food that can be cooked over an open fire (like sausages, fish, rice, etc.), pre-cooked food (stored inside air-tight, leak-proof containers), and snacks (like granola bars, peanuts, sandwiches, fruits, etc.). And most importantly, a few liters of water. (Sidenote: Be sure to dispose of any used cans and other packaging items properly)
Now that you’ve got clothes and food down, the next thing you’ll need is some shelter. Tents are indispensable when it comes to camping enthusiasts. It protects you from the elements and, at times, from dangerous wildlife, too. There are two main things you have to consider when getting a tent: its size and durability. For size, purchase a tent that is adequate for the number of people on your camping trip. For durability, this depends on things like the fabric used, stitching, zippers, poles, and so on. One more thing you have to keep in mind is never to store food inside your tent as this will attract all forms of wildlife — a bear at worst. To prevent this, store your food inside government-approved bear-proof containers that neutralize odors that attract these large animals to your campsite.
Most of the food mentioned above would be useless if you don’t end up cooking it. Portable gas ranges make sense for longer camping trips, especially if you are going with a group. Yes, you can go and make a fire naturally with a pile of kindling and tinder, but this method consumes more time and effort. Gas ranges also allow you to cook without leaving any debris on your camping site (compared to the ashes and burnt wood left by campfires). Other important cooking equipment includes pans, pots, plates, bowls, utensils, and firestarters.
When you are in the middle of nowhere and get yourself in a very life-threatening predicament, sending distress signals can factor in. One of the most useful emergency items you can get is a flare. These are distress signal items that emit bright lights and thick clouds of smoke, which can notify any roaming forest patrolmen about your situation. You can choose between handheld flares and flare guns. The latter is more effective as this will be seen by people from miles away. Remember to practice how to use one before you go camping, as one wrong move can ruin your chances of getting help.
First Aid Kits
Camping is a very dangerous activity. You will experience harsh weather conditions, unpredictable wildlife encounters, and unforgiving terrain. It is important to prepare yourself for the possibility of sustaining injuries. Being so far away from the rest of civilization, it may take quite some time for medical personnel to respond to any distress call. As a means of keeping injuries under control before the proper medical assistance is provided, first aid must be applied. A typical camping first aid kit must contain bandages (adhesive, butterfly, cloth), gauze pads, antiseptic ointments, tweezers, scissors, medicine (anti-diarrhea, antihistamine, headache, fever, etc.), rubbing alcohol, and eye drops.
Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
There are a couple of things that give way to whether a person has been camping recently, and those signs are sunburn and a constellation of insect bites on their skins. Naturally, you would want to avoid such situations. Applying sunscreen doesn’t just protect your skin from being fried under the sun, it also lessens your chances of developing skin cancer. Also, note that you have to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposing your skin to the sun’s rays to allow your skin some time to absorb it. Just the same, insect repellents don’t just keep insects from feasting on your skin, they also prevent you from contracting any diseases these creatures may be carrying.
Camera and Related Equipment
One of the best things about camping is getting a chance to go to faraway places and witness the sheer beauty of nature. Capture these beautiful landscapes and preserve wonderful memories with outdoor photography. While phone cameras are more than decent nowadays, you may want to save your phone battery for communication purposes. Bring along a mirrorless camera and some extra batteries. If you are looking to photograph the stars at night, you should bring a tripod along for 100% stable shots.
Not having a comfortable bed to sleep on can ruin your camping experience. This can result in sleepless nights and a lack of energy during the day. Choosing the right sleeping bag can prevent these discomforts. What makes a good sleeping bag? Naturally, you would want something that caters to your level of softness/firmness. What you get can also depend on the climate where you will be camping. Lightweight and breathable for hot areas, and thick and insulated ones for cooler weather.
Being far from the grid has its pros and cons. One of the pros is that you get to spend some quality time with your friends and family without the presence of electronics. However, this also means there will be no lighting fixtures anywhere nearby. Flashlights and lanterns give you some visibility, especially when you’re in the middle of a forest where canopies can get in the way of the moonlight. High-beam flashlights can also be used as a form of distress signal at night.
Depending on which kind of area you are heading to, you may want to bring hunting equipment along. Some areas may be teeming with critters you can catch for a good campsite meal to cap off a long hike. Bring along equipment like fishing poles, lightweight spears, nets, and even small cages. Just make sure you have the proper permits and other necessary documents with you.
It’s also recommended that you bring all personal items with you, such as identification cards, credit cards/cash (you’ll never know when you’ll need to pay for park amenities), a cell phone (for communication purposes), and camping documentation (different from your hunting permits).
Just because you’re camping out, it doesn’t mean that you are just going to forget about basic hygiene. Failing to do so will make you prone to infections and even diseases. Being clean and well-kept is encouraged especially when you are camping with other people. Bring soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper for all your self-care needs. Do your best to bring eco-friendly versions of these items (i.e. non-toxic and 100% biodegradable) as a favor to the environment.
There are tools that you must have to make setting your campsite up way easier. Bring a mallet to hammer down tent stakes properly. Lightweight saws or axes can be used to chop firewood. Sewing kits and duct tape can help mend broken items temporarily. Knives also fall under this category, but we’re going to dedicate the next paragraph to it since it is that useful.
The best campers are prepared for any situation. That’s why it’s ideal for campers to add a high-quality tactical knife to their pack. This knife can have several purposes. The purpose that people would initially think of when it comes to tactical knives is using it as a tool to stave off threats to your survival, like predators or thugs. Apart from that, tactical knives can also become a multi-tool that can help you with things like setting up your campsite, opening canned goods, shaving a kindle for fire, cutting up a bandage in first aid situations, and the list goes on.
If you haven’t already figured it out, you will bring a lot of things along to your camping trip. Convenience and safety are things you should never skimp on. That’s why you’re going to need a backpack that can carry all (or at least most) of the things on this list. You will want to choose a bag that is as heavy-duty as can be. You wouldn’t want the straps of your bag to snap in the middle of a hike. And you are also going to need a bag with lots of space, and ideally, a good number of pockets. Organizing your things properly will be a great help down the line. A backpack with a water pouch is a big plus. If you have enough money for it, you should also consider buying a belt-bag for quicker access to important things like your knife, compass, bite-sized snacks, and so on.
In less-traveled spots, you can’t expect to see trails guiding you toward a proper campsite. To help you navigate, we recommend that you bring a detailed map (in case your phone’s GPS fails), a compass, and high-quality pair of binoculars. A field guide detailing the flora and fauna of the area is also a helpful thing to bring, especially if you’re looking to forage the area for a more authentic outdoor experience.
Going camping isn’t all about being one with nature. You can still bring things along that can add some color to your trips. Guitars are great for setting the mood and keeping people’s morale up, but only bring what you can carry. Maybe bring a deck of cards and play a few rounds while enjoying your meals. Setting up a volleyball game can be tons of fun too — whatever you can do to make your time a memorable experience.
A Prepared Camper is a Smart Camper
Anything can happen when you are at the mercy of the great outdoors. Without the many conveniences that we take for granted at home, camping can be quite a challenge. There are no lights, no running water (until you find a stream or river), no cell phone signal, no refrigerator, and many more of the luxuries that come with living in civilization. However inconvenient it may seem, this is actually what makes camping so fun and exciting. You just have to be prepared.
Preparation is definitely your best friend when it comes to this activity. You have to make sure you have all your bases covered before your next camping adventure since one small mistake can make your experience an unbearable one. But as long as you do your research and double-check what you are to bring, you’re not gonna have much trouble. Did we miss any important camping equipment? Let us know in the comments section!