Every time I have gone camping, I have thought to myself, “I wish I would have brought _____ along.” On the flipside, I also have thought to myself, “Why on earth did I bring this along? It takes up too much space!”
On my most recent camping trip I decided to be more prepared than usual. This also meant I brought along many things I didn’t use. Here is a list of items I brought along, both what was used and what wasn’t:
Items taken camping:
- maps and directions – used, and important
- tent – used, and important
- sleeping bags – used, and very important
- Pillows – used
- bed padding (a thick blanket and an egg crate bed padding) – used and important to avoid back pain
- pocket knife – didn’t use, but wouldn’t go camping without it
- picnic blanket – used a lot
- flashlights & batteries – used at night, found it quite important
- lighter – didn’t use, but wouldn’t go camping without it
- water bottles – constantly used and refilled
- 4 gallons of water – used, and I find that one gallon per person per day is the right amount. side note: did you know that the average person can sweat more in one hour in the heat of the sun than they might during the entire day in an air conditioned home? According to an article from thenutritiondr.com, around 4-8 cups of our water in our body are lost daily as urine. Hydration is very important. We got very dehydrated on our trip, even when we drank a lot of water. I guess we were in the sun too long.
- garbage bags – used, and many campsites don’t have trash cans nearby, so you may need to keep it with you for a while until a trashcan is available.
- sunscreen – used, and a lot. What I notice though is that when you sweat a lot on your forehead, you may need to reapply sunscreen. Don’t end up like me getting one strange sunburn at the top of your forehead because the sunscreen melted off.
- food – we brought food that didn’t need refrigeration. Examples include: crackers, canned hummus, cucumbers, bananas, bell pepper, canned tuna, packets of mayo, lemonade juice boxes, peanut butter, pears, canned soup, turkey jerky, CLIF bars, LUNA bars, trail mix, and a few other misc. foods. They all kept very well in the trunk of the car, even when the shade disappeared.
- plastic/paper plates & utensils – used these for food preparation, and eating.
- camera – used, and in retrospect, should have used more.
- books – didn’t use, mainly because other activities were far more interesting.
- random outdoor toys – used, and enjoyed them.
- lip balm – used, and found that it really helped in the heat.
- first aid kit – used, had scraped off some skin and used band-aids and alcohol pads. Tylenol was also used for ankle pain from a strain. I also would like to add that it’s always super important to bring something like Benadryl along. You never know when someone might have a sudden allergic reaction to something. I can personally say that we believe antihistamines saved my husband’s life. Once he had a very adverse reaction to a spider bite and there was no hospital around. He was bit on his hand and as time passed a red line appeared starting from his hand and down his arm. He took one antihistamine and the red line stopped spreading down his arm. He feels that the antihistamine “almost definitely” saved his life. This was also not the only time antihistamines have saved him. I highly recommend having these with you at all times, in both your camping first aid kit, and even in a mini car kit.
- insect spray – used this, but we alternated between the chemical one you can buy from the store, and our homemade one. The homemade one usually consists of a mixture of distilled water and essential oils that bugs don’t like. There are many that mosquitoes in particular prefer to stay away from which include but are not limited to: lavender, tea tree, rosemary, mint (many types), clove, and eucalyptus. I like to just throw in whatever I have on hand, in this case tea tree oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil. Witch hazel is also good to throw in if you have it on hand. Just make sure to test it on a small area of your skin first if you have never used it, in case you have an allergy.
- toilet paper – used. Though many campsites have bathrooms, the bathrooms don’t always have toilet paper. I’ve found that many times they run out, so it’s always good to bring some along.
- toothbrush/toothpaste/bathroom cup – used. As long as you bring water and a cup as well, you can brush your teeth anywhere quite easily.
- other misc. hygiene items – used. Anything you use on a daily bases can be brought along, although if you usually use shampoo/soaps, you might want to bring a more natural all-purpose one camping, such as Dr. Bronner’s.
- earplugs/eye mask – used this at night (great when used with noisy camping groups).
- aloe vera gel – used on sunburns and bug bites (it really helps)
- sewing kit – didn’t use, but like to be prepared
- hand sanitizer – used on hands on occasion
- baby wipes – USED A LOT! This one item is the reason we went to bed with clean feet and ankles. We had so much dust all over us, and baby wipes saved the day. They were also invaluable for our picnics when it came to having clean hands.
- paper towels – used once, but didn’t need them much.
- facial tissue – used.
- clothing – used half, didn’t use half. I find that most of the time I bring more than I will actually use when it comes to clothing. The one thing I did use more was tank tops because I found that I had more sweat than usual and I changed them multiple times during the day. Otherwise, everything else was normally used.
- pen/paper – good for notes, and writing random ideas down.
- wristwatch with alarm – used.
Just a note for anyone who is planning a camping trip, decide first on how long you are planning to stay and then decide if it’s worth it to you to bring much food. I would rather have fasted most of the time on the trip than to bring so much food along. It was the largest waste of space, time, and energy for me.
We spent hours shopping for the food, packing it, preparing it carefully to avoid bugs, then packing most of it back up, hauling it home, then unpacking it. If you don’t mind being over-prepared, that’s great. If you prefer more of a minimalist camping experience, take just what you will need and plan each meal accordingly. Just make sure to bring plenty of water.
Items I wished I brought camping
Canopy – Being in direct sunlight was the worst. We got so dehydrated and overheated. We also didn’t want to be in the tent because it was also in the sun and it felt like a sauna inside. A canopy even over the tent would’ve been a life-saver.
Tarp – a tarp under the tent would have been nice. We had our shoes dirty up the inside of the tent because we didn’t want to take them off in the grass/dirt. A tarp would have prevented this issue.
Hammock – we saw so many people with hammocks, and we wished we had bought one. They are so affordable too… next time…
Camping stove – the one thing I need in the morning is a hot cup of tea. I saw many people with
these awesome little portable stoves, even boiling water on them. I ended up walking over to a vendor and buying a cup of hot water for tea.
Slackline – okay, this is more of a wishlist item. I saw many people setting up slacklines at the campsite. I tried walking on one, unsuccessfully, but it looks like so much fun. I’d like to learn this someday.
A slightly bigger tent – I believe we currently have one of the smallest tent sizes available. We had to sleep sideways because it wasn’t long enough for us. Our current tent was also shorter than most other tents. We felt that a larger tent is a must for next time.
Camping chairs – seriously! What were we thinking? Everyone was sitting in nice chairs, while we were sitting on the hard dirty ground. Never again!
I hope you have found this information helpful for your trips to come. Happy camping! And camp safely!