What do I really Need for a Camping Trip

what.do.i.really.needBoy, the other day I was looking through an outdoor catalogue and was amazed at what I saw.  The list of essential supplies or equipment for a simple camping trip was long.  After reviewing a few of the products, I really wondered how the pioneers made it through the wilderness without a Swiss Army knife or a fancy camp kitchen with a sink.

While I could go on and on about this story, I will simply end it with a list of what I feel is really needed for a simple camping trip.  Please note:  I will mention a few extras that I do include on my list every time I go camping. 

A Compass and Map

A compass may sound a little old fashioned but it works.  I have been using a map and compass to find my way for many years, which believe it or not included a time when cell phones did not exist.  While a cell phone with GPS is a great luxury, it is a good idea to learn how to use a compass and map.  Why is that?  Well, believe it or not there are still areas that do not receive a cell phone signal and these contraptions do need to be charged, which a compass does not.  In doing so, I do recommend that you at least pack a compass and map on the chance that your cell phone does not work.  

Tarp

A simple tarp can be used for an emergency shelter, as a ground cloth and so many other things.  It does not have to be large but should also include some rope. 

Fire Starter

There are several different fire starters out there but the kind I like is the old fashioned magnesium flint and steel.  Why do I like it?  Well, it is small enough to fit in my pocket and if it gets wet it will still help me create a fire, which is very important since fire is one of top survival needs. 

Flash Light

Light is comforting along with safety.  If you do not believe this, go out in the woods and turn off your light.  Try to find your way around your camp.  After this experience you will value your flash light.  While I really do not have any one particular that I prefer (flash light or lantern), I do like to carry several along with batteries.  Carrying several prepares me for that inevitable time when my flash light will not work. 

First Aid Kit

A simple first aid kit is very important along with knowing how to use it.  No, you do not have to go out and buy and expensive kit; you will need some band-aids, tweezers, scissors, an elastic bandage, and some antiseptic.

Some extras you may want to include are tablets for diarrhea and/or an upset stomach.  Both of these can turn serious during a camping trip.  

Clothes and Sun Glasses

Packing the proper clothing is extremely important along with sun protection.  Depending on where you are camping, you may need both winter and summer clothing.  If you do not believe this, let me give you a simple example.  When I went to Yellowstone, I had to pack for warm weather and cool nights.  While I did go in the summer, the week before I arrived at the park the weather had changed and they had received snow.  This meant I needed to pack both short sleeved shirts and my down coat.

The other item that a lot of people forget is sun protection.  This includes a hat, lotion, and sunglasses.  In the past years, I was a sun worshiper but now I tend to protect my skin.  Since I do not like the lotion, I protect my skin with SPF clothing that is easy to find.  While it is a little on the expensive side, it is better than the lotion in my opinion.   

Water Bottle and Water Purification Equipment

While this may sound like a no brainer, I have known campers that have forgotten a cup.  Any vessel will work to hold your water.  Regardless of where you are camping, always pack water purification equipment.  This equipment can be as simple or as fancy as you would like.  The one luxury though that I add to my list is my flavoring for my water.  Frankly, I really do not like the taste of water and will not drink it without flavoring.  This fact has gotten me into some trouble when I have been camping. 

If you are like me, add the flavoring to your camping list.  This simple bottle or packet can save you from dehydration.

Repair Kit and Tools

Whatever I am carrying, I have a repair parts for.  This includes extra shoelaces, a tent patch kit, extra tent stakes, a hatchet, and a knife.  If you wear glass, which most people at least wear sunglasses; consider packing an eye glass repair kit.     

Food  

Food is one of those individual things.  Some individuals like to pack quick meals that only require water while others like to prepare more homemade meals.  When I pack for a camping trip, I combine both types of food.  The quick and easy food is for when I am on the move on the trail.  If I am going to be at a campsite for awhile, I will pack ingredients for homemade meals.  The key is to know yourself and the type of camping that you will be doing.  Is it going to be primitive and/or in the backcountry?  Or, are you going to camping in a traditional campground.  Both situations can use both types of food but only you can decide which how you want to cook and/or eat.

While there are several whistles and bangs that I did not list, the key to safe camping is to make sure that you have the necessities for survival in any situation.

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