Before you head out into the backcountry, it’s good to get into the habit of packing the essentials you’ll need. You’ll find that certain items are more important than others that suit the type of environment you’re visiting; however, there are nine certain essentials you should always have with you regardless.
Most experienced campers already carry a tent for long trips, but those who only head out only for the day may find that emergency shelter becomes necessary in unexpected situations. Unanticipated wind or rain, or if you find yourself stranded, lost or injured can all be times when you wish you had shelter for protection.
There are many types of shelter that would be suitable. Modern pop-up tents are lighter and more compact than ever, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative, you could also use a lightweight tarp, an emergency space blanket that folds up very small, or even a heavy-duty trash bag.
Whichever shelter you choose, be sure that it’s easy to carry and waterproof for best efficiency.
Proper footwear will save your feet from pain and discomfort. Be sure to have sturdy, waterproof boots suitable for hiking over rough, uneven terrain along with a good supply of clean socks to reduce the possibility of developing blisters.
If you’re planning on camping in an area where you can enjoy water sports, you will also need well-made water shoes to protect your feet from sharp rocks and slippery surfaces. Many people like to wear sandals in the water, but a good water shoe is better for your safety because they cover your toes and most of the top of your foot. Today’s shoes have grippy traction to help keep you from slipping in the water, and they look and fit more like sneakers, making them more comfortable and stylish than ever before.
When looking to buy water shoes, there are some key features that you need to look out for. You want to find water shoes that are not only superior in the water but also very comfortable on dry land. They should be able to dry quickly, have lots of breathability, and have some form of shock absorption like sneakers. Many styles include regular laces to ensure that your water shoe doesn’t slip off at the wrong time and they transfer easily from the water to land. Water shoes are, perhaps, the only shoes you’ll need when you go camping this summer.
If you’ll be hiking or heading to the mountains, hiking boots or sneakers might be a better choice as they are more supportive.
Even if you’re heading out for only a day of hiking and camping, food and water are always essential items to carry. Whether you’re camping for only a few days or weeks at a time, consider food that doesn’t spoil easily, is simple to cook, and can be stored in a cooler or another secured container. There are many coolers that are capable of storing refrigerated food for up to two weeks and can be secured with a lock. And if you plan on cooking, be sure to pack a durable pan and utensils.
For shorter camping trips, you should always carry enough food to last for an entire day or two for emergency situations. Freeze-dried foods work well or any food that doesn’t require cooking. Granola and energy bars, nuts, individually wrapped snack crackers, portable fruit sauces, or even individually portioned boxes of cereal are easy to carry and handy at any given moment.
Of course, it’s extremely important to carry enough water with you so you stay adequately hydrated. Consider the length of your camping trip and where there may be any available water sources around your camping area. Besides simply keeping bottles of water on-hand, be sure to also have something that holds large amounts of water for unexpected situations such as medical emergencies or putting out fires.
Fire is a basic necessity for survival. You’ll need it for cooking, keeping warm, repelling wild animals, and providing light. Be sure to have waterproof matches with you and keep them dry at all times. Don’t bother with matches from the local convenience store since they are usually too thin and flimsy for camping purposes.
Keep a few lighters with you and perhaps a few candles as well. Fire starters are handy for starting quicker fires. Home improvement stores often have commercial fire starters in stock, but you can also use any dry wood, leaves, or even lint.
Not everything you’ll want to do occurs during the daytime. From exploring nature at night to cleaning up supper to organizing your bedding, you will need proper illumination. Head lamps are excellent choices since they free up your hands. Other options are high-beam flashlights and electric lanterns.
Test your choice of lighting before leaving home, and always ensure that you have extra batteries just in case.
First Aid Kit
A well-stocked first aid kit is a must when you go camping. There are many kits that are already assembled and specially designed for hiking and camping. Alter yours according to your needs and double check that it’s stocked properly before you leave home.
All good first aid kits should include antibiotic ointments, antiseptic wash, adhesive bandages of varying sizes, gauze, medical tape, insect sting treatment, pain relief medicine, hydrocortisone, and antihistamine. You should also consider including petroleum jelly and plastic gloves.
You never know when you’ll need a tool when you’re camping. Pack tools that can perform a variety of functions for more successful camping.
Pre-made repair kits are handy in case you puncture your air mattress or have a tear in your tent. All-in-One tools and knives are helpful during cooking, starting the camp fire, or attending to someone who needs medical are. You might even consider electrical or duct tape for universal repair jobs.
Maps and Compass
If you plan on doing any hiking and exploring at all, you will need up-to-date maps and a reliable compass- even if you have a GPS- to help you navigate around your camping area. Depending on where you are exploring, your GPS may not be able to receive a solid signal and the batteries could die right when you need it most.
Maps and compasses are lightweight and highly reliable in case you get lost or are looking for a certain path or trail. Visit your local camping outfitter to find the most useful and current maps.
Compasses are a dependable backup to GPS devices. Rarely will they lead you in the wrong direction. A nice feature of some compasses is a sighting mirror in case you need to call for help. The mirror will reflect the sun and act as a signal for your emergency rescuers.
Be prepared for any given situation by taking the time to brush up on your map and compass reading skills before you leave home. You never know how important that knowledge could be.
While every camper hopes for the best of times during their camping trip, the reality is you never know what can happen. A flare gun can give away your location if you get lost but also if you get injured outside of your camp or are met with an emergency situation.
Ready to Explore Nature?
Camping is a great way to get outdoors and explore the world around you. All you need is the right equipment along with a little knowledge of the environment you’ll be in to help you make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. Keep these nine essential items on your list of things to bring and add in anything else you feel is necessary. And don’t forget to bring your sense of adventure and humor for that truly unforgettable time with nature.