Camping Gear – The Essentials
By: Matthew Hick
It’s no surprise that one of the first things you probably do when going on a camping trip is to get out all of your camping gear. But, how much gear is really necessary? What types of camping gear are far more important than others? Let’s take a look at a few types of essential camping gear.
There are certain things you will need, as opposed to want, on a camping trip. Shelter is a primary concern, so unless you have a camper or trailer, you will need a tent. Make sure you pick one big enough to fit all your campers. A good rule of thumb would be to get one a couple people larger than you need so it will be roomy enough. Don’t forget the stakes and poles to support your tent, as well as, the guy lines. Along this same line, you will need a tarp to lie under your tent. This will serve two purposes. First it will prolong the life of your tent and second it will protect you from the cold, perhaps wet, ground. An extra tarp is also a good idea in case your tent springs a leak or you need additional shelter. A hammer will come in handy when planting the tent stakes in the ground.
Now that you have shelter, you will need something for sleeping. You can purchase sleeping bags and sleeping pads, depending on how rugged you actually want to get, and if you intend on getting a good night’s sleep. Air mattresses, cots and pillows should be considered optional items although they will provide more comfort.
Next, you will need food. A cooler will keep your food cold and also provide a place for your drinks and ice. It is a good idea to store the drinks in a separate cooler than the food. The drink cooler will be opened more often and encourage ice melting. By keeping your foods separate, the food cooler will be opened less and keep the ice intact longer. A stove or outdoor grill will be needed to prepare the food in addition to pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates and eating utensils. You will also need plenty of fresh water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. By bringing your own, you will know it is clean, good drinking water. Warn children about drinking other sources of water in the area. Optional items in this section would be folding chairs and tables, tablecloths and chuck boxes. Firewood is also unnecessary, unless you are going to make a fire and the campground has none available.
Lanterns are another essential item and there are many to choose from. Also, bring a reliable flashlight with extra batteries. It will get pretty dark at night and you will need to light your way, especially if you need to make a mid night trip to the rest areas. A first aid kit is also vital in case of injury and don’t forget the bug spray or sunscreen. Matches are needed to light fires for cooking or keeping warm. Butane lighters and fire extinguishers are optional items, although handy.
Of course, you will also need clothes, underwear, raingear and good walking shoes. Personal hygiene items are essential. Don’t forget the toilet paper. In addition bring cleaning items such as a broom, trash bags, dishpan and detergent.
A compass, GPS system and backpack are unnecessary unless you plan on hiking. A citronella candle also isn’t necessary if you have bug spray. Televisions and DVD players are considered totally unnecessary. Remember this is a back to nature experience. You can watch TV at home. Board games are unnecessary and you could while away time by playing charades and storytelling instead.
Depending on how much room you have in your car, pack the essentials first. If you have extra room, start with the optional supplies and figure out what you will get the most use out of. But keep in mind; by taking too many optional items, you will lose the ruggedness of the camping experience. Camping isn’t about living in luxury. It is about living in the woods and utilizing a bare necessity living style.