If you’re going for your first long-term camping trip this season, it’s critical to properly prepare. After all, it’s one thing to go for an overnight camping trip in the front country, but an extended camping trip is entirely different.
From obvious considerations like more food and water, you will also need to think more critically about an emergency plan and the possible risks involved. When you’re days away from civilization, a minor injury or illness can quickly escalate into a serious situation.
Whether you are traveling by car or carrying the weight yourself, an extended camping trip requires you to more carefully plan what to bring. If you’re out for a day, it’s no problem if your pack is a little disorganized. However, when you’re going to be traveling and camping for days, weeks, or even longer, every ounce counts.
Every piece of camping equipment you bring should be carefully considered and absolutely necessary. Whenever possible, each piece of gear should have multiple purposes.
Don’t bring a fork, knife, and spoon, instead just bring a spork. Don’t bring a stove and a special coffee maker, instead, just bring along some coffee filters and use your one cookpot to make your coffee in the morning.
The first thing to consider when cutting weight is your clothing. Most people pack way too much clothing of the wrong types when they go on their first long-term camping trip.
After all, just because you are going to be out for more days does not mean you need more clothing. As long as you have the right clothing, you’ll be fine.
The most important things to consider are high-quality long underwear (tops and bottoms), a wind and waterproof jacket, and a couple of fast drying, or wool-blend layers.
For long camping trips in cold environments, rather than bringing extra outer layers of pants and shirts, bring extra under layers of long underwear. One of everything else should do fine, as long as it’s of high quality.
Don’t bring cotton, it will get wet, or sweaty and then it will probably stay that way for the rest of your trip. That doesn’t just make it heavier, it also makes it cold and stinky.
Water is often the easiest thing to deal with on long camping trips. Any time you’re camping for more than a day or two, it’s just impractical to carry enough water with you.
Instead of bringing all the water you will need, you’ll have to bring a water purification system like a filter pump, or chemical purifier. Both is best.
Just make sure that you know where the water sources are along your route and that you always fill up when you can.
What food do you bring on a long camping trip? Well, if you’re traveling by car, you should have plenty of space to bring a typical assortment of canned goods, dried foods, and tasty meals. However, if you’re going backpacking, food will have to be carefully planned and may not be what you’re used to.
One of the best ways to save space and weight is to take dehydrated meals like soups, or mashed potatoes. Really, anything that expands with water such as pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, etc. are some of the best foods to take backpacking. That’s because water is what you might call your only renewable resource on the trail.
Proteins need to be carefully selected as you won’t be able to bring perishables such as meats or eggs. Lentils, beans, canned fish, nuts, and cured meats are all great sources of protein on extended camping trips.
Last but not least, you need to carefully consider the risks you will face and decide on a plan if something goes wrong. You might be a long way from help. If something goes wrong, it’s going to be up to you to get yourself to safety.
Anytime you go on an extended camping trip, you should notify someone at home of your intended route, and return date. That way, if you’re not back in time, someone knows to come looking for you. That could be the difference between life and death if you break a leg and can’t walk out of the backcountry.
The whole point of long-term camping is to get out, far away from civilization and rely on yourself a bit. It’s an incredible experience and very rewarding. Just make sure that you are properly prepared to take care of yourself out there, no matter what happens. With these long-term camping essentials and tips in mind, you’ll do just fine.