It’s trickier than you think to pack for a camping trip

By Doug Williams
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It’s trickier than you think to pack for a camping trip

Doug Williams
 
 
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Unless you have been camping for years, you may find it a challenge when packing for your camping trip.  Mostly experience will help you out in knowing what to take and what not to.

No matter what you take with you, you need to remember that you also need to be able to carry it back out with you. Yes, that means your litter too. Before you fill your bag with all the things you can’t “live” without, first take a look at the list of the things you can’t leave behind.

Garbage Bag

Picking up garbage
Picking up garbage

Yes, I kid you not. This bag has a multitude of uses when camping out.  For starters, it makes a great pack liner for keeping everything dry.  It weighs next to nothing and takes up very little room.  It makes an instant raincoat, keeps you dry and warm; you just need to make a head and armholes.  Splitting it in half, it becomes a small tarp that you can use to make a makeshift tent or shelter or ground sheet.

Water

Always research where you are going and if there is water you can collect there.  Don’t carry in multiple small bottles of water, as all those empties you have to carry back out.  Try a camel back; they hold a significant amount of water and are easy to fill.

Knife

Even something small is useful.  It’s a must even if all you take is a pocket knife.  It just needs to be sharp.  It is about being prepared for the worse.  You may only need it to cut away a bramble from around your ankle, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Lighter and Matches

Matches
Matches

Carry one or the other on trips away from your camp. If things go badly wrong, this may be all there is between you and freezing to death.  Store them in a small snap lock bag to keep them dry and stop them vanishing into the depths of your pack.

Warm Clothes

Pack clothing that is suitable for where you are going.  Take extra socks as feet often get wet.  Thermals are lightweight and take up next to no room, so even if you think you won’t need them pack them anyway; it’s easier than trying to warm up from hypothermia.  One important rule of hiking is to layer – the weather can and will change quickly in the backcountry.

Flashlight

Night camping
Night camping

Pack a flashlight and extra batteries.  Nothing is worse than being in the dark and having no way of being able to see.  Unknown noises are always scarier when in the dark and you have no light source to check it out.

First Aid Kit

Injuries big and small happen when in the backcountry.  Among the most common are insect bites, scratches, scrapes and bruises.  Pack your first aid kit with this in mind, making sure you have medications on you if you need them as well as a good supply of Band-Aids and strapping tape.  You can buy them ready made or make your own.

Ground Mat

Ground mat for a tent
Ground mat for a tent

Even when dry the ground can be cold and hard.  A ground mat goes under your sleeping mat and stops moisture forming underneath you as you are sleeping as well as adding an inch or two of padding between you and the rocks.  They are light, versatile and easily rolled up.

Map

Whether you are in forests or out on the open ground, it can be surprisingly easy to lose your sense of direction and become lost.  A map is a sensible tool to carry as they have the features of the area on them and will help you find your bearings.

Mess Kit

At one point or another, you will want to stop and make camp and want to cook something.  Mess kits are bundled together and are often packed into a small mesh bag.  They should include all the pans, pots and cutlery that you need to prepare a simple campfire meal.  Most outdoor stores have them.

Once you have packed these items, you can now add the extras that you want as well.

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