Now that you’ve researched your destination it is time to think about what you’ll want to bring with you for the journey. This can easily become the most overwhelming part of your trip so I wanted to share a few tips with you to have a stress free, enjoyable experience. For starters, review your campsite that you have booked to see if there will be picnic tables, fire pits, bathrooms, water, and electrical hookups. This will give you a good idea for some of the basics that you may want to start thinking about. Consider what you might want to do while you’re there and plan accordingly for activities such as fishing, biking, and even activities such as playing card games while at camp. For me, the greatest struggle is actually getting everything to fit in the car so make sure to be realistic about what you’ll be doing on a day to day and try not to overpack. Now let’s take a look at some of the main categories you’ll want to make sure to pack for.
If you are not planning on sleeping in your car, then make sure you grab your tent for the trip. Prior to packing it up, make sure you double check that you have the rain fly, stakes, and poles for it. I highly recommend bringing a sleeping pad or a cheap air mattress and an air pump to set up on the floor of your tent. Make sure to check out the weather and bring sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets accordingly. It is also a good idea to pack a tarp to lay on the ground prior to setting up your tent to help keep your tent situation a bit cleaner, especially in the event that it rains while you’re camping.
Now it’s time to think about what you’ll want for your campsite. Depending on the site, you may have picnic tables or other amenities available but if it isn’t explicitly stated on your campsite info it is better not to plan on them being there. Make sure to grab your camp chairs and an extra table even if your site will have a picnic table. If you have the space, EZ Ups are a great way to provide sun and rain cover while hanging out at camp. If your campsite has a fire pit, make sure to pick up some firewood on your way in and some fire starter and lighters so you can cozy up to the fire at night. Lanterns are a must as the sun starts to set and I recommend bringing a flashlight and headlamp in case you need to walk around at night. Microfibers and paper towels are always a useful thing to have on you if you have the space. I also recommend that you grab a couple trash bags from your kitchen to collect trash at your campsite too. Thought this isn’t a must have item, I always bring a speaker and portable charger on my trips as well and they come in handy more often than not. I also like to bring a deck of cards when camping with others.
When you’re planning out your clothes you’ll want to watch the weather to get an idea of if you’ll need warm or cold weather clothes. You’ll know what you need best, but remember you’re planning on camping so expect to get a little dirty along the way. Even when it’s going to be warm, I recommend bringing a heavier jacket, pants, and a beanie for the evenings because it will still drop to near freezing temperatures during summer in the mountains. If you’re expecting some wetter weather, throw a rain jacket in and some spare clothes for when you inevitably get wet. Make sure to bring some sunglasses and pack a hat to protect yourself from the sun or rain as well. I also like to pack a pair of camping shoes like crocs or flip flops for walking around the campsite and to and from the bathrooms.
It is worth checking out if your campsite will have showers available in case you want to rinse off. If you think you’ll be using the showers during your stay make sure to grab some travel size shampoo and soap. I recommend bringing extra soap to wash your hands with and rinse your utensils off with as well. Sunscreen and bug spray are also a must have while camping. Most importantly, don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste!
No camping experience is complete without fresh coffee and bacon in the mornings and smores in the evenings so we’ll touch on a few of the more important items to bring to setup your campsite kitchen. Even though you can get away without it, I highly recommend you invest in camping stove and some fuel to be able to cook some hot meals on your trip. I always pack at least one pot and pan and cooking utensils as well. You should also grab a cutting board and a knife to prep your meals on. I personally can’t go without my morning coffee and if you’re like me, make sure you grab a coffee maker for the trip. Make sure you have some plates, utensils, and cups/mugs as well. I also recommend bringing a reusable water bottle for the trip. Most importantly, bring a high quality cooler with you to store your perishable items.
Planning out your meals will be a topic that we will dive into in later blogs, but we will touch on some of the basic categories to start considering for your trip. Make sure to pack plenty of drinking water for your trip even if you are expecting to have accessible drinking water at your campsite. Also consider what other beverages you might want to bring with you on your trip such as Gatorade or some beers. Before heading out, fill up your cooler with ice to keep your perishable items as cold as possible. I recommend thinking about grabbing some snacks that will travel well such as beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit, and chips. For my trips, I also grab some freeze dried meals from my local camping supply store to have as a backup meal or snack if I am in a pinch. Depending on your meals you plan out these items might change slightly, but it is always a good idea to bring some oil, spices, and condiments. As I mentioned previously, I always like to start my day with a cup of coffee so on my trips I make sure to have plenty of coffee, tea, and creamer.
Now It Just Needs to Fit!
Now that we’ve covered the basics you should be just about ready to kick off your adventure, as long as everything fits! As always, if you have any topics you’d like me to touch on feel free to contact me directly. Drop a comment in the comment section below and let me know what a must pack item for you is.