A camping trip can be a great way to unplug from the usual 9 to 5 grind and reconnect with friends, family and the great outdoors. But it can also be one of the most miserable experiences you’ll ever have if you don’t plan and prepare correctly. There are certain items you simply must take with you to help ensure your camping trip is fun and successful – even if it rains or the fish aren’t biting.
You can never have too many tarps on a camping trip. Use them as waterproof flooring for your tent, cut one up and use it to patch a hole in a tent or an air mattress or hang them from tree limbs to create shady spots.
They can even be used (heaven forbid) as a stretcher if someone gets hurt and needs to be transported out of camp. They don’t take up much space when folded, so there’s no reason not to take plenty of them with you.
A Good Tent
Sure – we wax poetic about sleeping under the stars on a moonlit night, but the fact of the matter is that sleeping in a tent is the ideal way to go. You’re less likely to suffer from bug bites or wake up sleeping next to an uninvited guest when you sleep in a tent. It’s also much more comfortable to sleep in a tent when it’s raining.
With a good tent, you can spend the day inside it without being affected by the elements. It’s an ideal purchase, especially for extended camping trips.
Whether you hunt it, fish for it or pull it from the cooler, you need a way to cook what you’re going to eat. If you’re going to cook over an open campfire, you’re going to need grill boxes, pans, a skillet and utensils such as a spatula, large spoon, large fork, several knives, oven mitts and potholders, aluminum foil, seasonings and of course silverware, plates, cups and paper towels. Unless you want to play “Survivor,” don’t forget to bring something to light the fire such as newspaper, matches and a lighter.
Just because you’re “roughing it” doesn’t mean you should forego personal hygiene. You don’t have to bring your entire bathroom, but you will want to bring some items with you, depending on your particular situations at the campsite. For example, if there are showers, a bucket can hold essentials such as shower shoes, soap, shampoo, a washcloth, toothbrush and toothpaste.
If your bathroom accommodations are a bit more primitive or non-existent, use the bucket to get wet and rinse off at the nearest water source.
First Aid Kit
This list isn’t in any particular order, but if it were, this item would be closer to the top. From cuts and scrapes, to burns from the fire or the sun, a first aid kit is a must have for any camping trip. You can buy fully stocked kits at department stores and there are even kits created specifically for campers.
But if you want to put your own together, make sure you include items that will cover as many injuries as possible, including burns, bites, stings, cuts, scrapes, allergic reactions, poison ivy, oak or sumac rashes, splinters, a broken bone or a sprain.
Maps and/or a Compass
Getting lost in the woods is less fun than it sounds, so it’s always a good idea to have a map of your campground as well as a compass anytime you venture away from base camp. You really should carry both. Knowing which way is north is only a solution if you know what is north of you, but knowing which way is east and via the map, discovering your camp is east of you – that’s important.
Just as a tarp has a myriad of uses, so does rope. Whether tying things together or creating a pulley or a frame, a rope can be the solution to a variety of problems. Bring plenty of it with you.
Flashlight or Lantern (and batteries)
A variety of light sources is a great idea on a camping trip. Lanterns can run on oil, batteries or solar power. Flashlights use disposable batteries or feature manual cranks. There should be at least one light source per person and preferably a few extra just in case.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. But taking the useful items on our essentials list will help you have a great camping experience.