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17 Things You Think You Need For Camping, But Don’t
Most campers, especially “newbies” are guilty of bringing way too much stuff on their camping trip. By the time they’ve packed it all up and then unpacked it at the campground, they’re too tired to enjoy themselves.
There are a lot of things you may think you need, but you don’t. And I know that because I used to think I needed all the items listed below (so much so that I own them all). They all now either stay at home where they belong or are gathering dust in my garage.
1) Television – Isn’t the reason you left home and went camping was to get away from the distractions of home and to enjoy the outdoors? You, your spouse, your partner, your friends, and your children will survive without the television. If you can’t bear to miss your favorite shows, tape them.
2) Video Games – Even portable video games should be left at home. Instead engage in fun outdoor activities like hiking, biking, exploring, swimming, or geocaching. Play board games or tell stories at night or during rainy weather.
3) Camp Stove Toaster – If you haven’t seen one of these (and they’ve been around forever) it’s this little metal stand for bread that makes it easy to make toast over a fire. While it’s not expensive it’s also not necessary. A tripod will do the same thing and is a lot more versatile.
4) Grill – Here’s my dirty little secret. I used to take a small charcoal grill, portable gas grill, propane cook stove, and tripod on all my camping trips thinking I would be prepared for any cooking situation. Talk about overkill. For most trips the tripod was all I used. The grills just collected dust and got in our way. They now live in the garage. The cook stove still goes with me but only gets used if it rains.
5) Camp Kitchen – Those portable camp kitchens that you can set up at your campsite seem really neat with their shelves to “conveniently” keep everything you need at your fingertips while cooking outside. Yeah, and everything gets wet when it rains, any food left on them is sniffed out by “critters” and a good strong wind will topple the whole thing over. Don’t bother with one of these.
6) “Camping” Pots and Pans – These lightweight “cooking horrors” are found in the camping supply section of your store. Don’t buy them. They don’t last and they don’t work well. All you really need is a cast iron skillet, a Dutch Oven, and a saucepan.
7) Decorative Lights – Decorative lights and those cute campsite decorations are fun but they also take up space in your camper or vehicle (you’ve got to get them to the campsite, right?) and require a time investment to put up and take down – time you could be spending lounging around the campfire or taking a walk in the woods. Instead of putting up your own lights and decorations, walk around the campground and enjoy everyone else’s and smile to yourself because you know you don’t have to take them down at the end of the camping trip and put them back away (or worse yet – try to find which bulb has burned out and is causing the entire string of lights to not work!)
8) Screen Room – I have two of these gems. One attaches to our popup camper and cost us $500. We used it three times and decided it required way too much work to set up and take down. Plus we didn’t find it all that useful. If we put our picnic table in it when it was raining so we could eat without getting soaked, we then had to climb over the picnic table to get in and out of the door of the camper.
But I liked the idea of an extra area to be in to keep the raindrops off my head and the mosquitoes off every other part of my body so we bought a free standing screen room last summer. It’s still in the box.
9) Microwave – This is only applicable if your campsite has electricity but leave the microwave at home. If you haven’t figured it out by now, food cooked in the microwave may be convenient but it will never win awards for delicious taste. Cook camping foods like pie iron sandwiches or foil packet or kabobs or use a Dutch Oven – methods you typically don’t use at home. It’s a lot more fun and lot more tasty.
10) Portable Blender- These are fun and make devilishly good margaritas, but they are pricey and definitely not a necessity. Buy some wine coolers or beer instead and keep them in your cooler.
11) More chairs than people’s butts – If you have 4 people going on your camping trip then you need 4 chairs, not 8. Forewarn any potential visitors to bring their own chairs or to be prepared to sit on a tree stump or the ground.
12) Portable deep fryer – This is another fun item and a great way to deep fry food because any mess is outside and not all over your house. But, these are another expensive item and deep fried food isn’t good for you anyway.
13) Computer – Pry yourself away from your computer and leave it at home. Camping is supposed to be a vacation. Take a cell phone so people can reach you if they need you. If you’re worried about potential bad weather, see the next item.
14) Radio (unless it’s a weather radio) – Get outside and tune in to the sounds of nature, not your favorite morning radio show. Leave the radio at home unless it’s a weather radio (handy to have and highly recommended).
15) Inflatable Chairs – Those blowup chairs may look fun and comfortable but let me clue you in. The plastic sticks to your skin in hot weather and feels like you are sitting on an ice cube in cold weather. In addition, if there is just one sharp stone or stick within a 250 foot radius of where you put the inflatable chair, that sharp stone or stick will somehow migrate to your chair and puncture a hole in it. Then you’ll have to take time to patch it – probably while everybody else is cooling off by taking a swim in the lake or enjoying a beverage around the campfire.
16) Lantern – Lanterns are handy but not a necessity. A flashlight works really well, is easy to carry, and takes up less room.
17) Specialty First Aid Kits – Those cute little “camping,” “hiking” or “backpacking” first aid kits may seem handy and useful, and they are – until you run out of something in them. The only way to replenish those handy little individual packets of first aid cream, etc. is to go online and pay a fortune for replacements. Instead buy a fishing tackle box and make your own first aid kit. It will be much cheaper in the long run and you can then also use it as a convenient place to keep any prescription medications you need.
There’s the 17 things you don’t need while camping even though you think you might. Relieve yourself of all this un-needed “stuff” and you’ll find packing and unpacking quicker and easier.