If you’re going camping for the weekend, you want to be sure you’ve got the right camping gear. There’s nothing worse than getting to camp just as the sun goes down, only to realize that you forgot your headlamp. Setting up a tent in the dark is no fun and neither is cooking dinner.
So before you go for your next weekend camping trip, make sure you’ve got all the essential gear. That way you won’t get left out in the dark. Today we’ll go over all the most important pieces of camping equipment you’re going to need, as well as a couple tips to get the most out of your trip.
We’ll start with the obvious. Just make sure your bag is rated for cold enough temps, and that it’s not still wet from your last camping trip. When you crawl into your sleeping bag at night, be sure to take off extra layers that will make you sweat in the night. Otherwise, you’ll wake up wet, cold and miserable. Seriously, trust your sleeping bag to keep you warm
If it’s going to be a cold night, try boiling water before bed and throwing a hot Nalgene in the foot of your sleeping bag. Put wet socks or a sweaty shirt down there too and they’ll be dry by morning. At least, as long as you don’t stuff your whole wardrobe in there.
A good camp pillow
Although not essential, it’s a great way to ensure a solid night’s sleep. You can get inflatable camp pillows that pack down to the size of a pack of cards and weigh nearly nothing. They’re reasonably cheap and can go a long way towards a fun weekend in the woods.
Tent, tarp, or hammock
It would be pretty embarrassing to forget the tent, but it has happened. However, not everyone likes to camp in tents. Hammocks are increasingly popular due to their light weight and easy setup. If you know what you’re doing, a tarp shelter can be a great way to cut weight on the trail as well.
Before you throw it in the car, it never hurts to check that your tent still has all the stakes, and the rainfly is in the bag. Seriously, it’s worth checking.
Stove and fuel
Everyone has their own favorite camp stove. Car campers often swear by a two-burner Coleman. Backpackers are usually packing a small MSR model with canister fuel. Whatever you bring, just make sure you have twice as much fuel as you plan to need.
A moldable windshield can be a big help too. It’s not just for safety, it actually saves fuel by keeping the flame steady and the heat contained under your cookpot.
You don’t have to be the Iron Chef of the forest, but you are going to need a couple basics to make a meal or two in the woods. You probably have your own setup already. But if you’re in the market, look for multi-use equipment that is lightweight and absorbs heat quickly for faster cook times.
You can buy high-tech cook sets at your local outdoor store, or mix and match by thrifting. Just don’t get carried away. Keep it lightweight, multi-use, and at an appropriate size for your stove and pack.
It’s never a bad idea to keep an extra headlamp or two tucked away in your bag and car, just in case you forget. It’s also best to bring a set of extra batteries with you. Most headlamps don’t give much warning before their beam starts to dim.
Although a headlamp is normally just helpful when you’re playing cards after dinner, it will also be vital to your safety if you find yourself in an emergency situation after dark.
Water bottle and purification system
Some people like to bring all their water with them. That’s easy to do if you’re car camping. However, it never hurts to have a water purification system like a filter-pump or purification tablets in the bag as a backup. After all, water is life, but in the wild, it can harbor some pretty nasty bugs that you don’t want to get.
You only need to experience giardia once and you’ll never mess with dirty water again.
Appropriate fire starter
Obviously dependent on local fire laws and moisture levels. But a tinderbox, small hatchet and waterproof matches are a great way to keep the camp warm and lively at night. If you don’t want to pack a hatchet, a strong fixed-blade knife can do a good job of chopping wood for a small fire.
Matches and lighters are cool, but if you want a far more reliable way to start a fire, check out magnesium flint sticks. They’ll also make you look like an experienced backpacker. Fun to show off to your friends.
The right clothing
You’re going to have to make your own style choices when it comes to trail attire. However, one thing’s for sure, your camp clothing should be made from fast-drying materials like wool, polyester, or other modern blends. Cotton gets stinky and wet quickly.
Your camera and gadgets
If you’re the type to take a photo, make sure you’re prepared. However, it can be a really great experience to leave the electronics at home. Your choice.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re setting up for a weekend camping trip. Double check your packing list before you go. And most importantly, have a great time in the woods. We’re lucky to have such beautiful natural places to enjoy.