Long balmy summer evenings, bright early mornings, clean air and good exercise. Whether you are looking to escape the stress and rat-race for a few days or push your personal limits in the great outdoors, nothing can give the mental and physical workout like camping can. Don’t let the fear of purchasing camping gear put you off, the combination of the natural environment and the physical challenge can give you the refreshment that you need without breaking you budget into tiny pieces. However, more than most vacations, when going camping you need to follow the motto of the boy scouts more than ever: “Be Prepared!”
What is the best preparation for your camping trip? Before you hand over your credit card to the store owner upon hearing the first camping gear recommendations, stop and ask yourself some questions: How long will I be camping for? How much walking will I be doing? As possible try to mentally walk yourself through the trip. Think whether you will drive to a location and camp there, in which case you fall into the camper category. If you are brave enough to pack your bag and walk to your night-stop, then you are more accurately described as a backpacker. If you are a backpacker, how much camping gear and food can you realistically carry for the walking parts of your trip? After chewing this over, you will have a clearer idea of what camping gear you want, and what your budget needs to be.
Without further ado, see the list of the essential camping gear that every happy camper needs to have:
A place to lay your head, comfortably and safely: Tents
With so many tent options available today, there is certainly something that fits your needs and budget. If you camper, you will be able to keep your camping gear in your car, meaning you can afford a heavier tent. If you are backpacker, you will be looking for a lighter or ultralight solution. Another question to ask is, when will you be camping? Tents in three or four-season varieties depending on the time of year you will be heading out. If all these details seem bewildering, worry not, a modest price for a good all-rounder tent is within $200-300 dollars. Of course, the more you know about your trip the better choice you will be able to make.
Carry your load comfortably: Backpack
If you are camping and traveling by vehicle, you can keep your camping gear in the trunk and may not even need to worry about a backpack. However, if you are backpacking for more than a couple of hours, your choice of backpack is very important. After this time, you will either love or hate the load on your back. Think whether you will need a day pack, an overnight or a long haul. Again, there are many options available depending on your level of commitment to camping and your budget.
Your feet: Your most valuable asset
Your feet will walk you to (and hopefully back from) your camping location, and everywhere between. You must be able to look after them and avoid injury even when carrying heavy camping gear on your back. For a Saturday afternoon ramble your sneakers may be sufficient, but for anything more than this you will without questions need something with greater support, padding and stability for your feet and ankles. Boots are for the classic muddy trek, and care for your ankles the best. Trail runners provide the greatest comfort and are very light – but lack support. Perhaps the hybrid hiking shoes would benefit you as they combine the best of both worlds. If this is your first backpacking trip, and your route is not too challenging, you will not go wrong with hiking shoes.
Drinking Water: Something You Shouldn’t Forget
Whether you are camping or backpacking, water is an essential part of your camping gear. If camping, bottles of water in your vehicle will do fine. If you are backpacking, you need to either pack enough water for your trip or have the facility to filter water. Your local outdoor store will be able to provide you with purification tablets, or another option is a filtration system, some of which promise to remove 99.9999% of bacteria.
First Aid kit: Just in case
Even after you have done all you reasonably can – accidents will and do happen. Whether camping or backpacking a good quality, well stocked first aid kit is vital. Again, consider what environment you will be in. Along with aspirins, bandages and gauze, do you need bug sprays, Aloe-Vera for burns or other protection from nature specific to the location you will be in? Often local authorities provide advice on their local websites regarding this.
Camping and camping gear has been turned into an art by enthusiastic campers. Along with the above, think: What sleeping bag is best for your trip? How will I cook each day? Do I need utensils? How will I make my morning coffee? The basics are listed above. However, there are a multitude of gadgets and devices to provide comfort and protection whilst you are in the wild. If you need more than this, think whether the value of the item outweighs the pounds it will add to your backpack. When camping, remember to make good use of your vehicle to carry your camping gear. If you are backpacking, remember: Backpacking is not a destination, it is a journey. And you will thank yourself for packing lightly and comfortably during that journey whilst you enjoy clean air, beautiful views and the sounds of nature around you.