So you want to go camping? A list of things to bring is the first useful thing that most campers want, and that is the first section covered. Later sections tell the story behind each category and their items.
Here is the strategy:
- Take care of basic human needs.
- More items add more comfort and enjoyment at the campsite but more weight.
Here are the categories of things to bring:
- Shelter and sleeping system
- Safety and protection from elements
- Healthcare and personal care
- Education and entertainment
- Incremental comfort additions
Here is a detailed list of what to bring from each category, and in later sections will be the detailed story.
- 64 ounces of water
- Water purification method, enough for 64 ounces per day
The amounts can change depending on climate. These amounts are for deciduous forest areas. The filtration method can range from a commercial water filter made for camping or backpacking, to iodine tablets that are available at outdoor stores.
Shelter and sleeping system
For overnight, generally people think of:
- sleeping bag
- sleeping pad
- ground cloth (optional)
I personally moved away from that method and I use a backpacking hammock and sleeping bag--a good option for a lightweight backpacker like me. If you are just starting and you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can use lots of heavy blankets and a large piece of plastic for waterproofing.
Clothing appropriate for the season, including rain gear. You get colder than you think when outdoors all day every day, so be sure to bring a good coat more often than you would wear one in the city. Here is a sample list:
- Parka (perhaps optional in summer)
- Hat for keeping sun off
- Waterproof pants
- Thermal underwear top & bottom
- Fleece undergloves
- Extra underwear
- Extra shirt
- Two extra pairs of normal socks
- Fleece jacket
- Waterproof gloves (not necessary in summer)
- Pair of wool socks (not necessary in summer)
- Hiking T-shirt
- Hiking shorts
- Gore-Tex boots
Safety and protection from elements
- Map and compass
- Cutting tool (pocketknife)
- Two Bic lighters (confirm they work before leaving)
- Headlamp (or flashlight)
- Emergency space blanket
- Emergency poncho
- Bug repellent
- Three 13-gallon garbage bags
The trash bags are useful for many purposes in unexpected situations, such as extra waterproofing and rainwater collection.
You can plan your own menu. Make sure you also have the items to prepare and eat the meal, including a stove if you need it. Bring an extra day's worth of food. I like the dehydrated meals from camping stores, as they are lightweight and easy to cook.
- Stove and fuel
- Toilet paper
- General-purpose soap (castile soap)
- Cleanup kit (for dishes, such as scouring pad)
- Spade (optional)
Healthcare and personal care
- First aid kit
- Hygiene (toothbrush, floss)
- Medical and personal items depending on your specific needs and gender
Education, entertainment, and comfort
Field guides, photography and/or videography, musical instruments, playing cards, sporting equipment, games, hobbies, binoculars, chair, fan, electronic devices, and anything else you may wish to bring.
Trip home items for the car
- Change of clothes
Incremental comfort additions
Each person will have a different preference for what to bring for comfort. You can revisit each of the categories and add what you wish, especially if you are camping near the vehicle and you have a large amount of space in which to put your stuff and there is very little extra effort. If you are backpacking, it is a bit more challenging to find your comfort level quickly, and this will be an incremental process. When backpacking, every extra item adds weight, so you want to be very careful which items you choose to bring, as extra comfort at the campsite means extra pain walking there and back.
- Camera (adds 1 lb)