No one wants to arrive at a campground only to find that they forgot the sleeping bags and brought a refrigerator. Most of us make packing lists before we go places to make sure we have everything we need. However, bringing the wrong things on a camping trip, or forgetting something important, can turn an amazing family trip into a complete disaster. Here are some things you might not think to add to your ‘To Pack’ list—and next week we will feature your ‘NOT to Pack’ list.
What to take with you:
- Sleeping bag
But not just any sleeping bag. Make sure yours is appropriate for the climate in which you are camping. A -30 degree sleeping bag will not give you a good night’s sleep on a summer evening. Likewise, you will not be a happy camper in a 60 degree sleeping bag if you are sleeping in a pile of snow.
- Oven mitt/hot pads
Often we remember the stove and pots (do not forget those either). We remember the forks and napkins. What we forget is the fact that we cannot just reach into a fire and pull out our dinner, piping hot and ready to eat. If you plan on using pots and pans to cook your dinner—especially over a fire—then be sure to bring something to put between your hands and the steamy kitchenware.
- Trash bags
Honestly, you can never have too many spare bags on a camping trip, but trash bags are especially good to have around. At night, put one over your backpack and other gear to keep them dry. Even if it does not rain, if your bag is sitting outside your tent in the morning you will find it drenched with dew. You can save yourself a lot of discomfort by having one or two of these around. Plus you need something to put your trash in. Remember, leave no trace!
- First aid kit
I am pretty sure we know about this one, but it is very important so it is included on this list. You never know what will happen and it is good to be prepared. Common minor injuries include scrapes, minor burns (we have to get that marshmallow perfect, right?), stings, and insect bites. Prevention is always best, but preparation is equally important.
- Extra underwear and socks
Things happen. Shoes get sweaty, you sit on a damp log, or your canoe tips over. Wearing dirty socks can put someone in a bad mood on its own, and allowing something as small as a sock to ruin your vacation is way too easily avoidable to let it happen. So pack extra socks.
- Flashlight/spare batteries
When you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, you will be glad to have this.
- Rain gear
Even if you check the weather, you can never be sure when that little wisp in the sky is going to turn into a torrential downpour. While camping in the rain can actually be really fun, you will certainly want to have the option of staying dry, especially given that you do not have your closet full of nice, dry clothes to change into.
You brought the logs, you brought the matches, and you have a fire pit, so what could possibly go wrong? Well…just the fact that small flames do not like to leap from toothpick-sized matches to massive hunks of wood. There has got to be a transition, and an easy, cheap way to help start your fire is a ball of newspaper or a few strips of cardboard. If you want, you can use small sticks and pine needles, but you cannot count on an abundant supply or that they will not be damp. Remember, even if it has not rained recently, dew can really soak all the natural kindling in the area. (Tip: Avoid using leaves to start fires. They cause a lot of smoke, and after they burn up, the heat from the fire can carry them into the air, potentially into your face or a flammable tree nearby. Burning leaves are a forest fire hazard, even in a fire pit.)
Now that you are well prepared, come back next week to learn what is best left behind for your camping vacation!