Streamline Your Next Camping Trip

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 10, 2008 · 42 comments

in Health & Sports

car-camping.jpg

Photo by SnapShot1951

Last week we encouraged men to spend time in the great outdoors. It’s a thought that surely has occurred to many of you before, but it seems most of us can’t find the time to do it. According to a recent study, Americans are spending 25% less time in the outdoors than they did in the 1980′s. People are glued to their
The great thing about camping is that it is the most economical way to get away from it all, and even a weekend can do wonders for your spirit. But just planning for a weekend trip seems like too big of a hassle sometimes. In truth, it always seems like a bigger hassle in your head than it turns out to be. And there are several things you can do to make camping trips easier, and consequently more frequent. Here are 5 ways to streamline your camping trip and keep it hassle free:

1. Find your campsite online. One of the reasons people don’t camp more often is that they don’t know where to go. Thankfully the internet has made finding a camping spot far easier. All states operate websites about their state parks. Most have a map that allows you to click on the general area nearest you. Click on a park that sparks your interest and read about what it offers. Your choice of park will be based on your personal desires. Some parks offer amenities like toilets, water pumps, and showers, while others are more remote and rustic. Some parks sit on a lake and are known for their fishing, but lack hiking trails. Some offer special activities like kayaking and rock climbing. Some are designed to attract families and have swimming pools and minigolf, and consequently lots of kids running around. Pick a park that offers the kind of setting and activities you are looking for.

Also, consider the distance. You don’t want the tiredness that results from long drives to cancel out the rejuvenation camping affords. For a weekend getaway, I would recommend not traveling any farther than 3 hours from your home.

If you are having trouble picking a park, visit a local camping and outdoor supply store. Generally, the employees there are outdoor enthusiasts and will be able to give you some advice.

2. Reserve your campsite before leaving. This is recommended for state parks, and essential if you will be visiting a popular national park like Yosemite. Popular parks can fill up faster than you might imagine. The last thing you want to do is drive for several hours only to find there are no campsites left. Many state park websites allow you to book online. If not, all you have to do is call ahead.

3. Keep most of your camping stuff in one big storage tub. Part of the hassle of putting a camping trip together is having to rummage through the attic and make last minute runs to the store to gather all the supplies you’ll need. To avoid this annoyance, simply keep most of your camping equipment in a big plastic storage tub. Once you have your camping tub loaded up, whenever the urge to tear out into the woods strikes, you can just grab it and go. Keep the following supplies in the tub (specific supplies may vary according to what kind of camping you’ll be doing, where you’re going, and what season it is. But this covers the basics):

  • tent
  • sleeping bags
  • sleeping pads
  • first aid kit
  • lantern
  • flashlight
  • extra batteries
  • small whisk broom
  • tarp
  • wet wipes
  • matches
  • bug repellent
  • trash bags
  • cooking supplies (this can be skipped, see #5 below)

4. Create a permanent checklist that you can consult before each trip for the things that won’t fit in a tub or need to be packed right before the trip. This list might include:

  • sunscreen
  • pocketknife
  • camp or lawn chairs
  • clothes
  • food
  • firewood (if you don’t think there will be enough at your campsite to gather)
  • toothbrush
  • cooler
  • food

5. Avoid cooking elaborate meals. Now admittedly, one of the joys of camping is cooking delicious campfire chow. But cooking supplies can add a dozen or more things to your list of supplies, and you’ll have to bring stuff to clean the pots and pans. It can be a significant hassle. So save camp cooking for a week-long trip. If you just want to get away for the weekend, plan 2 meals that involve no cooking supplies and no clean-up. Here is the menu my wife and I always use when we go away for a Friday morning to Sunday afternoon trip:

-Friday night meal: foil dinners. We put together the foil dinner before we leave and then put it in the cooler. To cook, you simply place the foil packet on the coals of the fire. The only thing you need is a fork.

-Saturday night meal: hot dogs. No tools needed here. Simply roast your dog on a stick. Few things are easier to prepare and taste better than campfire weenies.

For dessert on both nights, we eat s’mores. And the rest of the time we just snack on energy bars, trail mix, and chips. No pots, no pans, no clean-up.

As an alternative to this meal plan, consider freeze dried or dehydrated camp food. The food is lightweight and eminently packable. And all you need to bring is a pot to boil the water.

What are some of the ways you have found to streamline your camping experience?

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cameron Schaefer April 10, 2008 at 9:38 pm

One of the most enjoyable backpacking trips I ever had was a 5-day trip in the Gila wilderness in New Mexico with my friend Lucas a few years ago. We decided to go ultralight, only carrying about 20lbs of gear, food, etc.

We left a lot of “necessities” behind, but the intense pleasure of being able to go 8-10 miles a day due to the light packing, as well as actually feeling relaxed rather than burnt out, was well worth it.

I realize this is a more extreme case of streamlining and not for everyone, but I highly encourage cutting down on what you take camping. It may seem counterintuitive, but it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.

Cameron

2 Corey - Simple Marriage Project April 11, 2008 at 6:03 am

It is a great idea to keep everything in one or two locations. I store my tents in bigs bags to keep them form being compressed for long periods of time. I do the same with sleeping bags. They last longer that way.

I also keep everything in the house to avoid the extreme temperature fluctuations on the garage or attic. By doing this, I still am able to use a tent I bought 12 years ago. Works great.

3 Bradly Fletchall April 11, 2008 at 7:05 am

A friend of mine and I did a mountain bike race a few weeks ago and we camped the night before to avoid the early morning long drive to the race.

We realized that we camp like girls. We didn’t have things we really needed (lantern and/or flashlight) and we had a bunch of crap that was completely unnecessary.

We’ve already planned what we are bringing on the next trip and its gonna make things a lot better and its almost exactly the list that you posted here

4 Helen April 11, 2008 at 11:15 am

What no pancakes?? Nothing is better than a good breakfast cooked over a campfire!! Bring a long a small pan and a few cups of pancake mix that just needs water. You could bring a small amount of syrup too. Breakfast is a must have, you can always eat your trail mix etc. the rest of the day!

5 Andrew April 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm

I suggest Cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

Pick up one of those pre-made cinnamon roll tubes, and a sack of oranges.
gut the oranges, so they’re like orange bowls, with lids
stick a cinnamon roll inside each one, put the cap of the orange back on.
wrap ‘em in foil, and place in the coals, turn ‘em after about 5 min, and in another 5 pull them out. you’ve got cinnamon rolls with a hint of orange flavor. If you’re good at gutting the oranges you can have some nice orange slices too.

6 April Braswell April 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Indeed, a full-fledged camping trip is ideal, and I LOVE the photo you include there where the lady is wearing a SKIRT, because, even though I DO wear jean, it IS still possible to do all of those thing – CAMPING included – all in skirts and dresses where we just look distinctively feminine.

However, even if you cannot manage a full-fledged get-away, then a day-trip of hiking or backpacking is simply WONDERFUL.

In the past, the best, most manly boyfriends would carry the water bottles in this sort of fanny pack contraption along with our lunch/snack. I still had some water on me, not only relying on him to carry ALL of it.

Suncreen
Bug stuff
Hat to shield your eyes and face. (you CAN be manly AND still prevent skin cancer, OK, gentlemen? Yes? Thank you.)

Oooooo, and squeal, he would take my hand and help me over the more unstable areas of the rocks. See? More really WONDERFUL opportunities for manly men to demonstrate their protection, provision and leadership. Trust me. We love it.

Mazel tov!

April Braswell

http://www.AprilBraswell.com

7 Brett April 11, 2008 at 7:55 pm

@Cameron-Backpacking is an excellent way to force yourself to streamline your camping trip as it is very motivating to find ways of not carrying so much on your back. Even if you don’t backpack, buying equipment made for backpacking can cut down on space and weight on any type trip.

@Corey-Good tip about storing your tent and sleeping bags. A lot of people don’t know that keeping your bag tightly bundled up can diminish the “loft” or the bag’s insulating capacity.

@Bradly-Camping AND a mountain bike race? Nice.

@Helen-Ah yes, pancakes are the best. They even have those Bisquick bottles now where you can put the water right in the shaker, shake, and pour. So all you would need is a pan.

@Andrew-I once tried cooking an egg in the same kind of way. It turned out pretty bad. But a cinnamon roll in an orange sounds much better. I will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the tip.

@April-Yeah the lady in the skirt made me chuckle. But my wife was just telling me how skirts can really be more comfortable than pants many times.

You are quite right about women loving us men helping them over the rocks. On our last camping trip, my wife was struggling over some rocks and she said, “hey aren’t you going to take my hand and help me?” And I said, “I thought you wanted to be an independent woman.” And she thought about it and said, “Yeah, most of the time. But I really like when you help me over the rocks.”

8 LC April 11, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Cooking doesn’t have to be hard. All you need is a good CAST IRON dutch oven, cured, and some aluminum foil to lien it with. I recommend Lodge for your cast iron. You just prep the food (usually pretty easy), dump it in according to recipe (yours or from a book), put the coals on right (wood coals can work if you don’t wanna bring charcoal), and keep an eye on it. In a little bit you have a hot, tasty meal. After dinner, take the foil out and put it with the trash. NOTE: For those of you that don’t backpack and have no knowledge of how heavy things are, but want to backpack, DO NOT TAKE A DUTCH OVEN WITH YOU!

9 Neal April 12, 2008 at 5:14 am

Bring the 10 essentials (not just camping, either).
http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0403/d-outs.html

Add more food, a sleeping bag, tarp, parachute cord, machete/hatchet/camp saw, and (if able) a gun for some hunting and you’re good to go for a day to a week.

10 Oracle of Delaware April 12, 2008 at 5:59 am

Camping in skirts. Yeah…that’s cool…don’t forget your lipstick, cash, and car keys.

As I look back from the other side of the mountain I see that it takes a lifetime of wins and losses to truly grasp the essential spirt of the man’s man.

Biology particularly seperates the sexes. Although equally charged with survival responsibilities, their duties and talents follow the magnificent biologic design.

Many current laws and popular opinions seek the impossible purpose of over-turning the Laws of Nature. Vicious anti-male propaganda for the past 30 years has caused extreme dislocation of the male mission, and thusly, to our society and it’s survival.

The ladies of the fem-left have succeded beyond their wildest dreams. Real boyhood has become a distant dream, and boyish behavior has become a crime and is punished with dangerous drugs. These ladies are wrong and should stand up like real ladies and admit it. They won’t, of course, they see maleness as a virus in need of eradication.

Is it any wonder then, that a blog such as this emerges? Men…Men…Where are the men? Why didn’t boys see or hear about the things in your essays as a matter of growing up? Well, the fems won and the men lost and here we are today.

I think you are trying to fill a vaccum here and educate people. What astonishes me is the comment section. A steady stream of girly-men sharing cooking tips with the gaggle of giggling girls fireing off tidbits of “girl-how-to-be-a-man” lessons.

It’a a sad fact, but none of these people have ever met a man’s man.

11 @Stephen | Productivity in Context April 12, 2008 at 6:17 am

I love camping! These are great tips and I will definitely keep them in mind when I start enjoying the outdoors again this summer.

12 Brett McKay April 12, 2008 at 6:19 am

@Oracle-I agree with much of what you say…but I do think cooking can be manly, especially campfire cooking. The world’s best chefs are almost entirely men after all. There were some good point to the feminist movement, and one of them is that regular guys could embrace things like cooking that were formerly seen as exclusively the sphere of women.

And for the record…women are welcome here. Manliness does not exist in a vacuum. Really, manliness has no definition if not contrasted with womanliness. So women are welcome to comment on what they see as manly.

@LC-I honestly never thought of the foil in the dutch oven idea. Excellent tip.

@Neal-Nice link, thanks.

13 David April 12, 2008 at 7:02 am

You left off the caption for that photograph…
“If the Van is rockin’ , don’t be knockin! “

14 Oracle of Delaware April 12, 2008 at 11:02 am

@Brett-Thank you for your response to my comment….at least your first nine words. The next 90 words are all about you and the girls and the cooking thing.

ORACLE’S LESSON: In MATTERS of MEN…When someone throws out some off-beat, idiotc, rude, crude, and tasteless slams on you or your friends….DON’T BITE!

I suggested several man-issues to chew on and you picked the one-man-band cartoon-clown-redneck character. If we accept your word ratio, 10 to 1, that may be the person you believe me to be.

That devious little prick has a knack for getting people to reveal themselves, how they see things, what they think is important, or not important, what they will stand up for, what they remain seated for, what they look like as a deer in the headlights or a rifle scope, maybe even where they stand on the Man’s-Man Scale.

On your search for manliness you will deceive yourself many more times than you will be deceived by others. Keep that in mind when dreaming of your yet unseen summit.

15 Dan April 12, 2008 at 11:48 am

Oracle – Apparently, you’ve chosen to play the wet blanket character. If people want to trade cooking tips, why spoil their fun?

Be yourself. Let others be. A real man doesn’t prove himself by bashing women or trolling Internet blog discussions.

16 Mitch Ross April 13, 2008 at 9:59 am

I can’t believe that nobody’s mentioned the ultimate manly minimalist cooking: the MRE.

True, the orange-cinimon rolls sound worlds better, but come on – it takes a man to eat a meal without an exit strategy. :)

17 Greg April 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm

For the breakfast, a meal I have never had a problem with is called “Eggs in a bag.” Simply enough, you break 2 eggs per person and put them in a 1 gallon ziplock bag. Seal the bag and squish the yolk, scrambling the eggs. Open and add precooked sausage, bacon, peppers, cheese, chives, pepper to taste and seal the bag.

Poke a hole in the center of the bag right underneath the zipper (near the top); then take a pot of boiling water and put a stick in the hole in the bag. Take the egg bag and put it in the boiling water with the stick, going through the hole as a brace so it doesn’t get submerged in the boiling water. Depending on how many eggs and how much water you have, it can take from 1 minute to 6.

When the cooking is done, you can eat it from the bag, or pour them out and distribute. After words, all you do is dump the boiling water and properly dispose of the ziplock bag. No clean up besides that, and the boiling water can be used to clean other dishes you might have, or sterilize silverware.

18 y0mbo April 14, 2008 at 3:33 am

In some states (Wisconsin and Indiana, for example), it is illegal to transport firewood due to tree illnesses and insects which spread by being transported.

Please leave the firewood at home and purchase it at your campsite.

19 Art Gonzalez April 14, 2008 at 6:45 am

One of the best camping trips I’ve ever done was with an uncle of mine and few of my cousins husbands to Sequoia National Forest a couple of years ago. My uncle is a retired Sergeant Major from the U.S. Army and he taught us a ton of tips and survival skills that really made the whole trip a fantastic and memorable one.

I highly recommend that you bring a relative or friend with military background on your next camping or hiking trip. All the outdoors skills that they have plus the wartime stories while sitting around the fire at night, makes it a great experience.

Many blessings,

Art Gonzalez
Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

20 Chris May 16, 2008 at 8:51 am

So Oracle thinks cooking is for the girls huh? I suppose if he wants to depend on a woman for his meals then that’s fine for him.

Me? I know how to grow the veggies, hunt or fish for the meat and turn it into a pot of chili that’ll clear your sinuses for a year. Self sufficiency is fairly manly I think.

Anyway, the camping. There are a few rating and review websites all about campgrounds. Try to make use of those. Nothings worse than getting to a campground and the place is a dump or right next to the interstate.

Chris

21 Bumpas May 19, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Get involved with a Boy Scout troop, if you get in with a good one, they should go out doors at least once a month.

22 Esteban May 20, 2008 at 9:51 am

Fajitas are great campfire food too. prepared chicken or beef in a bag, grill it, cut it, add to torilla. Any sandwich stuff is also easy to do with minimal clean up.

I hate hot dogs, but good quality sausage is a good substitute.

23 Bob Mueller June 25, 2008 at 6:50 am

I want to write a book titled “Never Put Your Cooler Next to the Porta Potty and 1000 Other Helpful Camping Tips”. I m looking for any tips that fellow campers
would care to contribute.

24 Tom Johnson August 20, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Oracle,
You seem like a pompous prick. Good luck with that.

25 MSK November 18, 2008 at 5:37 pm

I used to camp at least once a week while going to school in Idaho. The best thing I ever did to improve the experience was taking a small note pad and pencil on my trips. That way, when I realized what I wish I had or didn’t have, I could write it down for easy reference later. Too many times I had the same regret b/c I forgot about what I needed until the next trip.

26 Alex kumiski December 3, 2008 at 11:28 pm

there are a couple of things on this list you really don’t need. on backpacking trips for example you want to try and carry as little weight as you can so a sleeping mat is a luxury. the best thing to do is to have a take any type of plastic material trash bags usually work best and they are a pretty light and good thing to have anyway just dont carry the roll take as many as needed depending on how long your trip is and just go around and fill those trash bags with pine needles or those sort of things dont grab large handfuls either that can bring in spiders, scorpions basically anything you dont want to be sleeping on top of so its smart to just pick up a couple at a time to fill the bag and just lay those down. Also you dont want to be cooking your hot dog on a stick if you can help it. the best thing to do if you have access to them is to use the stem of a live palmetto leaf just use a knife to take of the thorns on them. Also if your going on a long back packing trip up north a useful thing to do to cut back on weight is when you find a good sized dead log if you have the time to carve a make shift pot or bowl out of one (a log about 7 inches in diameter is best you want to a good bowl in it about 5 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches deep) get stones, not ones from a river though cause bad things will happen, about the size of a standard flashlight lens and heat them up in the fire for a good about of time take them out and place them in the pot with water and the water should boil if it doesn’t they haven’t been in the fire long enough. This way you can cook and still dont have to lug around pots and pans and dont have to clean them. and where your done they can be used as fire wood too. I strongly suggest practice of this method before you use it as your main way of cooking cause it takes some practice to get right.

27 AJK December 3, 2008 at 11:35 pm

there are a couple of things on this list you really don’t need. on backpacking trips for example you want to try and carry as little weight as you can so a sleeping mat is a luxury. the best thing to do is to have a take any type of plastic material trash bags usually work best and they are a pretty light and good thing to have anyway just dont carry the roll take as many as needed depending on how long your trip is and just go around and fill those trash bags with pine needles or those sort of things dont grab large handfuls either that can bring in spiders, scorpions basically anything you dont want to be sleeping on top of so its smart to just pick up a couple at a time to fill the bag and just lay those down. Also you dont want to be cooking your hot dog on a stick if you can help it. the best thing to do if you have access to them is to use the stem of a live palmetto leaf just use a knife to take off the thorns on them. Also if your going on a long back packing trip up north a useful thing to do to cut back on weight is when you find a good sized dead log if you have the time to carve a make shift pot or bowl out of one (a log about 7 inches in diameter is best you want to a good bowl in it about 5 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches deep) get stones, not ones from a river though cause bad things will happen, about the size of a standard flashlight lens and heat them up in the fire for a good about of time take them out and place them in the pot with water and the water should boil if it doesn’t they haven’t been in the fire long enough. This way you can cook and still dont have to lug around pots and pans and dont have to clean them. and when your done they can be used as fire wood too. I strongly suggest practice of this method before you use it as your main way of cooking cause it takes some practice to get right.

28 Chrissy April 12, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I absolutely love this site and all the info on it. I am a new camper and am absorbing all of the tips I can. I have tried the egg in a bad thing before and it works wonderfully. Instant omelet!

Thanks again, and to the nay sayers around here, why waste your time blogging in complete opposition of the article? Is it because you truely have nothing better to do with your time?

29 Carl Muthman July 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm

I love camping and have all the gear to prove it. Some essential things I didn’t see on the list are axe-bucket-shovel. These are mandatory in my book if you have an open fire. Also be vary aware of the current regulations such as food storage restrictions in bear areas or low impact camping rules back in the mountains.
I like to prepare some meals ahead of time and put them in vacuum bags that can be boiled. (hot food is a great pick-me-up) If you can boil water you can have hot food without the cleanup of a pot. Last but not least, pack out the garbage if possible, even if it is not yours and even it there are garbage cans. Garbage doesn’t always get hauled away routinely or before it piles up from big crowds and then it makes for conflicts with humans and animals.

30 Johnny Utah February 10, 2010 at 6:50 am

You can use Google Earth to find campsites.

I sometimes make “manifold burritos”. This is a burrito you prep and freeze ahead of time and remove from the cooler on the day you want to eat it. Then you place the tighly foil-wrapped burrito on your vehicle’s exhaust manifold for an hour or two and let it get piping hot.

Krusteaz is the best pancake mix for camping- just needs water.

31 Nick March 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I like to pack light. If you are backpacking, I would say most of this stuff is pretty needless.
– tent – Bivvy bag does the same thing, a fraction of the weight and space. Just don’t be claustrophobic and keep a breathing hole.
+ sleeping bags – pack your sleeping bag according to how cold it gets in the area. Stay on the safe side, but be smart about it.
– sleeping pads – Waste of space.
+ first aid kit – crucial. It should include disinfectant, gauze, medical tape, thread and needle, gauze, bandages (large, cloth triangle bandages, not bandaids), painkillers, small swiss army knife w/ scissors etc., epi pen*. I probably left out a lot of stuff on this list, but that is the bare essentials.
– lantern – lanterns are generally a pain in the butt. I prefer a headlamp. Same effect, much easier to carry.
– flashlight – a small maglite can be useful, but if you have a headlamp it is a bit superfluous.
+ extra batteries – definitely
– small whisk broom – I have no idea why this is on the list. Just brush any dust off things with your hand.
+ tarp – absolutely vital, especially in a wet area.
+ wet wipes – if you are gone for a week or so, wet wipes are your shower. Take a small pack of them if you feel that will be necessary.
+ matches – waterproof. Also take a fire-steel, just in case.
– bug repellent – I find all bug repellent to be absolutely useless. If bug bites really bother you, take afterbite.
+ trash bags – everything you pack in, you pack out. Keep it nice for everyone else.
+ cooking supplies – a small container to boil water. This could be as simple as a plastic water bottle.
+ sunscreen – if you are fair skinned this is a lifesaver. It is still useful if you are not. You can be sure that someone else in your group not as hard as you forgot theirs and will be begging for it by mid-afternoon. Bring it, but make them carry it.
+ pocketknife – Absolutely vital, but bring a decent one, not a little swiss army knife. Fixed blade, partially serrated, thick enough that it won’t snap easily. KA-BAR makes some good ones. Also bring a small sharpening stone. Depending on where you’re going, and how long, you should also bring a hatchet.
– camp or lawn chairs – No. You can sit in the dirt. It won’t hurt you.
+ clothes – a week or less: bring some extra socks and underwear, more than that: bring one extra set of clothes. I usually go with flannel and jeans. It’s not a fashion show, and they will keep you warm. For underwear for guys, compression shorts are awesome. They prevent chaffing in the one place you definitely don’t want chaffing. Socks: wool. wool retains 80% of its insulation even when soaking wet.
+ food – bring military rations. They are made for heavy work, and you won’t run out of energy. You can get by on as little as one meal per day (not recommended, it is not fun). As for the taste, suck it up princess, they’re not that bad. As for the “ziplock” recipes, they may taste great, but you don’t want one of those bursting in your pack. You will also find that you will not get the same amount of calories for the size and weight. Calories are your friend when you are backpacking.
– firewood – If you are capable of carrying sufficient firewood on your back, my hat goes off to you. Use deadfall for fires, if you feel it is necessary.
+ toothbrush and toothpaste – if its just a couple of days you can get away without it, but after that you will find that you get cotton mouth, which means you will drink more water, which means you carry more water. Bring it anyways.
– cooler – not for backpacking. For camping out of the back of your truck, it is absolutely vital. Stock with beer and meat.

Some things that were left out:
+ E-tool – an entrenching tool is a must for fires and making a shelter.
+ Large freezer bags – put everything sealed separately in plastic bags. It keeps everything dry in the rain and if you fall in a river (it happens).
+ 550 cord – bring a spool of it. Useful for everything. And I mean everything.
+ Baby powder – If you are hiking for a long time in the wet and mud, put baby powder on your feet whenever you stop. It will prevent trench foot. Mix some baby powder with your extra socks in the plastic bag. It keeps you feet drier longer.
+ a hat – should have a brim that keeps the sun off of your face and the back of your neck. Cowboy hats work, just don’t bring your best one. You can also pick up a floppy hat at walmart for cheap.

Again, there is more that you could take, but this will keep you warm, dry, and relatively comfortable, while allowing you to move light, far and fast.

* You do not want to find out that you are allergic to bee stings 100 mi from civilization. I have been camping when one member of the group did not know he was deathly allergic to bees, stepped in a wasp nest and was stung 100+ times. Luckily we were close to a vehicle and got him to a hospital in time, but I have no desire to repeat the experience. In different circumstances, he would have certainly died.

32 Mogli Dude March 27, 2010 at 11:30 am

Yet another great post. Camping is an awesome past time. A favorite of mine and my family. We go every chance we get.
Water is essential. Bring enough with you for your trip. Or bring some method to clean and purify your water. (chlorine tablets, water filter) And always boil first.
Next fire. Everyone loves a good fire. Always check for fire regulations and rules. Here in SW Fla we sometimes have brush fire warnings and campsites won’t allow campfires. With that said, always bring at least 2 methods of starting a fire. I prefer water proof matches and a magnesium/flint starter. It works even when wet.
And finally some form of entertainment. Crucial if you take little one’s along. Something small is best. A harmonica, travel guitar, a book, or markers and a coloring book.
And the most essential thing is a good attitude. Everything else is useless if your not having a good time. Enjoy yourself. Other wise why go?? I once took my family camping for the weekend and packed everything, except bedding. Yeah, it could’ve gone south real quick. But optimism prevailed. Instead of arguing over it we figured we would just have to snuggle a little closer that evening, and the next. The trip was a success. My wife and I returned to the city rejuvenated and smiling.

@ oracle- It has, in my experience, been that most braggarts often lack what they most proclaim. If you do not agree or are not pleased with the site, then why visit?? You visit on your accord. There is no need to berate the authors or fans of this or any other site. That’s a bad show ol’ chap.

As for the everyone else, Thank you. And Godspeed.

33 Noah May 9, 2010 at 10:19 pm

For a quick weekend trip, where you are packing into and out of a car, I think having a moderately sized cast-iron skillet, a spatula, and tongs have been well worth taking. I agree with you Brett, on not getting too elaborate with meals, but there is something very special about waking up with the sun, stirring up the coals of last night’s fire, and making some sausage, eggs, and flapjacks while listening to the birds wake up…

34 Sam May 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

For the record, real men do not camp at pre-fab campsites. I understand if you’re taking your girlfriend, wife, or daughter along; but if the only person/people going camping are males, then a homemade campsite is the only way to go.

My dad and I and his high-school buddies all go camping in early to mid spring, every year. We have a few favorite places to go–all of them out in the wilderness–but sometimes we just drive around in the general area, pick a likely spot, and pack our stuff in. If it turns out to be a dud, sometimes we pack our stuff back out and repeat. It’s awesome.

But really, nothing is worse than a pre-fab campsite where the area is stripped of firewood, littered with trash, and a bunch of noisy campers less than 100 yards away. Oh, and did I mention that the “pad” for your tent is always made of gravel? Who’s idea was that, anyway???

35 L MacLellan June 5, 2010 at 10:08 am

WATER! You forgot that fairly important detail….also newspapers are helpful as well as rope.

36 Michael June 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

A lot of these comments have helped me make my pack for backpacking a little more lightweight. There’s a 16 mile trail in a state park nearby that I went on earlier this year, but I used a heavy pack that made the trip miserable (45 lbs). I think I’ve got the pack down to 20 lbs now.

Last trip I had a small propane stove, carried all the water for the whole trip, a tent, 2 extra pairs of clothes, a small cooler with some refrigerated food, just a bunch of ridiculous stuff.

This trip (coming up next weekend), I’ll have none of that stuff, and it’s not winter so I won’t need the winter gear. Also means it’ll be nice and green this time around. It should be really fun.

37 dan August 2, 2010 at 1:13 am

I’m planning to go for another camping trip next month but I’m still thinking of great place where.I appreciated our post it so helpful for me,since this would be my first time in going to camping.Need to have this check list to consider importantly.So excited,I know this gonna be a be much more fun!

38 Bren October 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Okay, being a mom/grandma and all-around girl, I still think hot meals are the way to go. And they can be done easily with some foresight. There are some great websites with recipes (in fact after a quick search there is apparently an article right on this site!) One of my favorites is chilicheesefries. One bag frozen french fries, one can of chili, one jar of CheesWhiz. Dump & wrap, toss on the coals. Another is pineapple upside downcake: Butter, brown sugar, slice of pineapple, slice of poundcake. Wrap and toss.

With just a tiny bit of preplanning, these can be either pre-assembled or components assembled in zip-lock bags for quick prep.

Going now to check out AOM’s recipes!

39 PAcamper October 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Chili is a great camp meal. Make it in advance and store in a large plastic coffee container– you can put 3 lbs in there. Just heat and eat with tortilla chips, nothing is better. it’s my son’s favorite camp meal.

40 KentonsGhost November 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

Using a storage tub works great and can also make it easy to find things useful for emergency/disaster scenarios. I have two camping tubs. One goes with us and the other stores infrequently used items. I tend to move things to that tub if I haven’t used them for a couple of trips.

The biggest downside to reserving online is getting there having bad camp “neighbors.” If it’s not a busy park/week, it’s often worth the gamble to pick your spot when you get there. If you do this, though, always have a backup plan.

41 Mary Higgins June 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

a great tip is to bring powdered milk with those prepackaged oatmeal envelopes. Much easier to fix a hot breakfast with just some hot water without having to keep milk taking up a lot of cooler space. Also cocoa mix made of powdered milk / coffee creamer / nestle quick / and powdered sugar : mix to taste. Combine mixture with hot water for wonderful creamy hot chocolate.

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