Whether you take the entire family on a weeklong expedition or surprise your significant other with a short weekend escape, there’s no form of travel more adventurous—or more affordable—than camping. With mountain, forest or water views just outside your tent, a crackling fire to roast marshmallows over, and the peaceful sounds of nature lulling you to sleep, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s ultimate dream come true.
But if you don’t have much experience with how to “rough it” off the beaten path, you might not know what to pack for a camping trip. Of course, there are the obvious basics such as a tent, sleeping pads, insect repellent, firewood, cookware, food, warm clothes and flashlights. But those items just begin to scratch the surface. Below are some other camping essentials that you might not think of immediately but can prove to be beneficial once you’re out there exploring the terrain and blazing those backcountry trails.
First Aid Items
Just about any excursion in the wild outdoors comes with a risk of injury, so plan ahead for eventualities with a portable first aid kit. It should be small and compact enough to stash inside a backpack before an afternoon of hiking in case anyone is hurt on the trails, and it should come with all the necessary materials to treat common wounds or injuries. Think: bandages, airway tubes, medical tape, gauze, tourniquets and ointment, along with an instruction manual on how to perform first aid treatment effectively. Nature is unpredictable, so it’s crucial that you pack the right tools to respond if a member of your group needs help.
Stove and Fuel
Sure, there’s always the option to cook your meals over an open flame, but it’s often hard to safely regulate the heat, make sure your pans or skillets can withstand the temperature, and avoid burning your food. That’s where a portable camp stove comes in handy—while this tool can be expensive, consider it an investment that will last you for numerous trips over the years. Most camp stoves are freestanding and come with two pre-installed burners that run on either propane or butane gas. You’ll have to purchase a small fuel tank separately, but the stove is simple to use, and it minimizes the hassle of outdoor meals.
To perform numerous DIY functions at your campsite with both ease and efficiency, a multi-tool is an absolute must. This collapsible, ergonomic device has the built-in mechanisms to open a can of beans, slice a utility cord, remove a splinter, light a bonfire, whittle a stick for roasting s’mores, fix a jammed tent zipper, and everything in between. Plus, it’s portable enough to attach to a keychain or slide into a pocket for easy access on all of your adventures. Choose a multi-tool that’s made of stainless steel for water corrosion resistance and maximum durability in all kinds of weather or elements.
While most modern campsites have a bathroom within relative walking distance—that is, unless you’re off-the-grid entirely! – it’s a smart idea to bring an extra roll of toilet paper just in case. You never know when the bathroom might run out or someone in your group feels “nature’s call” during an off the beaten path activity. Since it doesn’t require much space, this is an easy item to toss in your backpack or store in the corner of your tent. In a pinch, toilet paper can even be used to help stoke the flames in a bonfire or to dry off cookware after rinsing if you don’t have towels on hand. Just remember to leave no trace at the campsite.
Along with the on-premises bathrooms, many campsites also have plumbing or water hoses, but it never hurts to come prepared with one or two backup gallons of water as well. If you need to wash cooking items, refill a hiking thermos, extinguish a campfire or take a sponge bath, access to clean, purified water makes camping as a whole so much easier and more enjoyable. Keep in mind that the human body runs on about 60 percent water, so you need a continual supply of water available out in the wilderness—even if you’re not doing intensive physical exertion. This is especially true in high altitudes or extreme temperatures.
Camping is a time to set aside your phone, mute those social media notifications and unplug from all the distractions of normal life. However, with that said, there might still be a situation in which you’ll need access to technology—whether it’s for GPS navigation, a backup light source or even in some cases, an emergency phone call. Make sure to pack a solar charger to power electronic devices in case you need them. This type of charger is conducive for camping because it doesn’t require an external outlet or USB port in order to function as it channels direct energy from the sun to refuel your mobile device’s battery juice.
Take These Essentials On Your Next Camping Adventure
Part of the fun in a camping trip is when you leave behind the ease of modern conveniences and figure out how to improvise with the minimal resources you have on hand. But some essentials do make the overall experience less of a hassle—in particular, for those who are relatively new to camping. So be sure to pack these items for your next outdoor adventure, wherever Mother Nature might take you!