Thanks to COVID, camping grew in popularity last year. After all, what is more socially distanced than sleeping outdoors? As we head into summer, it's possible you and your family may be gearing up for a visit to the nearest campsite in the coming months. Before you head into the wilderness, here are 12 things every camper needs for a safe and enjoyable experience.
Must-Have #1: Tent
You may dream of sleeping under the stars, but purchasing a durable tent is a wise choice. If there are only two of you camping, consider purchasing a three-person tent to allow for some more room for your gear and belongings. A family of four would sleep nicely in a six-person tent. If your budget allows it, going bigger is almost always better - especially if you’ll be traveling in a car and can accommodate larger equipment.
Some other things to consider when choosing a tent are:
- Ventilation & Insulation: Mesh panels can help with ventilation and also allow you to get a great view.
- Rainfly: This is a separate piece of rainproof material that is designed to fit over your tent. It should be used during times of inclement weather, and it can also be used to help keep the inside of your tent warmer if you're somewhere that gets cool at night.
Must-Have #2: Sleeping Bag
Are you going camping in a place where it gets colder at night, or is it going to be hot all night long? Depending on this, you can decide what type of sleeping bag will keep you most comfortable.
Sleeping bags are rated by degree, with some of the most insulated ones keeping campers warm in below-zero temperatures. For summertime camping, classic sleeping bags or cotton-lined bags may keep you most comfortable in the warmer weather.
Must-Have #3: Sleeping Pad
Don’t forget your sleeping pad, as this serves as the “mattress” to your sleeping bag. Not only does it provide comfort, but it’ll help you retain body heat in the cooler months. When choosing a sleeping pad for your upcoming trip, you’ll want to check important dimensions like length, width and thickness. Additionally, some sleeping pads may be more insulative than others.
Must-Have #4: Flashlight or Headlamp (Or Both!)
Flashlights are a good option, but consider a headlamp to free up your hands. Lanterns can light up your campsite nicely, but flashlights and headlamps are ideal for those who may need to walk off-site to use the restroom or gather supplies.
Must-Have #5: Cooking and Kitchen Utensils
“Sporks” are a great option here, since they combine a spoon and a fork and cut down on the number of kitchen utensils that you need to bring. You'll want some pots and pans that can be placed directly over a flame to cook your meals, plus biodegradable soap and scrubbers for cleaning.
Must-Have #6: Cooler
Make sure your cooler has enough space for all of your perishable food items plus room for some drinks. If your cooler is newer and has thicker insulation, then your ice will last much longer. Be prepared, however, to spend anywhere from $150 to $500 on a quality cooler that holds ice for multiple days.
Must-Have #7: Stove Top
A two-burner propane stove is an easy option, and it’s useful as you can cook your meals and brew your morning coffee without having to start a fire.
Must-Have #8: Camping Chairs (Plus a Blanket!)
After a long day of hiking and being outside, you’ll want to be able to relax with your family around the fire. Camping chairs are a must for hanging out around the campfire. And if you’ll be camping somewhere that gets cooler at night, bring a couple of blankets along to keep yourself warm and cozy.
Must-Have #9: Backpacks
Backpacks are great for easily carrying your essential supplies - even if you’re not backpacking your way to and from your campsite. Any time you leave the campsite, whether it’s for a hike or to gather supplies, a backpack can come in handy.
Must-Have #10: Water Bottles or Filters
While there’s always an option to bring plastic water bottles on your trip, utilizing a reusable one may be more environmentally friendly. This is an especially appealing option if your campsite has a water fountain or water spout. You may also want to consider packing a small portable water filter.
Must-Have #11: Extra Battery Charger
Even though it’s nice to “unplug” and you may not have service anyways, it’s still nice to have your phone with you in case of an emergency. To be safe, you may want to consider grabbing a portable battery charger that can keep your phone charged during your trip.
Must-Have #12: Food and Water
You’ll want to bring food that’s easy to cook over a fire and hearty enough to keep you warm and satisfied during your trip. Include a few things that are easy to grab-and-go or snack on throughout your day - granola bars, trail mix, jerky, etc.
While this isn’t a comprehensive camping list, it’s a good place to start. Camping is a great time to connect with your family and friends and unwind from the chaos that comes with daily life. There’s no better time to get outdoors than now, so make the most of your time together in the great outdoors with these basic camping essentials.