January 25, 2016
You’ve decided to spend a weekend in the outdoors, getting back to nature and camping under the stars. Nice. Making that decision was easy. But now you’ve popped the trunk and you’re ready to load the vehicle. What camping gear do you absolutely need to put inside for this trip?
Any camping gear checklist should begin with the 10 essentials, then you add activity-specific gear from there. The 10 essentials list vary slightly depending on the adventure, but these items are internationally recognized as being im
portant for your basic safety and comfort. Preparation for the elements is key. Once you have this squared away, add the gear for whatever your passion is: kayaking, paddleboarding, scuba diving, backpacking, climbing, etc.
Here are a few quick tips for gear selection on several key items:
Illumination: The sun is down and the stars are out, but you still need more light. Flashlights and lanterns are the obvious choices. Flashlights require batteries, so make sure you have fresh batteries or bring spares. Lanterns can be either battery-operated or run on propane; ensure you have an adequate supply to power them. However, there are lighting products on the market that are solar-powered and worth your consideration. They can lighten your load as there are no batteries to haul around. Headlamps are another lighting option. Having a mobile, hands-free device for lighting the way and doing tasks around camp is extremely convenient. And let’s not forget that the time-honored tradition of having a campfire falls into this category, so having matches or flint and steel is necessary.
Sleeping bags: These fall into two basic categories: synthetic and down. Bags filled with synthetic fibers are usually less costly and retain some insulating ability should they get wet. However, depending on the amount and type of fill inside the bag, they can be a bit bulky, which is fine for car camping, b
ut less desirable for backpackers. Down bags (filled with goose down feathers) are usually a bit more expensive than synthetic, but they are lighter and more compressible. Older generations had down bags that held no heat when they got wet. However, today, many manufacturers
treat the down inside the bag with water-repellency products that allow the down to maintain more of its loft. So these sleeping bags will keep some of their insulating abilities. After deciding on synthetic or down, it’s all about picking the temperature rating for the conditions (summer bag at 50 degrees or winter bag for 30 degrees and below) and fit (roomy rectangular style or a more snug mummy fit).
Shelter: This is your barrier against the elements and a key piece of gear that helps maintain your core temperature. Of course, most people bring a tent. The most popular models are three-season tents, because their two-wall construction (tent body with mesh and rainfly) is good for weather protection and ventilation in spring, summer and fall. Hammocks have caught
on as a popular sleeping option that keep campers off the cold and hard ground. Also, you could decide to “cowboy camp” under the stars with as little as a blanket on the ground near the fire, or using a sleeping bag and sleeping pad.
Adventure clothing: Prepare for the conditions you are likely to face. Will it be hot or cold? If a front comes through, or you’re changing elevations, it could be both. Will it be buggy or not? Some clothing comes with insect repellent alr
eady in the fibers. A more thorough discussion of adventure clothing can be found here .
Keep these tips in mind as you fill that trunk, or as part of your trip planning. And visit a reputable outdoor retailer who can guide you through the many gear options. That way you’ll be prepared. And when you’re properly prepared, you have less worry and more fun.