16 Camping in Comfort Essentials
There’s no easy way to replace what you forget to bring, so make sure that you pack it all. If the wind is blowing, the rain is coming down hard, and it's getting dark and cold outside, you don't want to have to worry about having forgotten the pegs to hold the tent in the ground. So here’s a list of the 16 things you absolutely, positively want to make sure that you have on board before you hit the road for your camping trip.
1. A good tent
It will effectively be your home for the whole of your camping trip. You want to make sure that it gives you enough room, that it is simple enough to set up quickly and that it does a great job of keeping out the elements.
2. Warm sleeping bag
REI offers a good online guide to picking the right sleeping bag to fit the kind of camping you will be doing. You don't want something that will be too hot, but if you are camping in the spring or fall, you want to make sure that the sleeping bag will not leave you shivering in the middle of the night.
3. Inflatable mattress
It is no fun to get light-headed from blowing up an air bed on your own after a long day of traveling or hiking. It is recommended having a pump that you can plug into the car or an electrical outlet if your campground has them. If that conflicts with your notion of roughing it, look for a mattress that is "self-inflating" or comes with a hand pump to ensure that you can get to bed quickly and comfortably after a busy day.
4. Power inverter
If you want any of the comforts of home while you are camping, some of them are likely to require electricity.
5. Vice grips
The tool may seem an unusual choice as a camping essential, but consider the benefits from a good pair of vice grips. Not only can locking pliers help when you need to fix anything in your camp site, but it can also double as a hammer for pounding in the tent pegs.
6. Camp chairs
Camp chairs don't take up a whole lot of space, but they can make all the difference when you're sitting around a fire relaxing at the end of the day. If you don't have any chairs, you can always sit on a log, but I can assure you those don't work for a nice afternoon nap.
7. Bottled water
You probably won't need bottled water - as most camping sites will provide drinking water. But one of the most basic principles of camping (as well as being an old Scouting motto) is to be prepared.
Hopefully you will not need matches to light a campfire - and you'll bring a camp stove to use for your cooking needs.
9. Camp stove
Propane-based camp stoves came in a broad variety of shapes and sizes — and the model you choose will have a lot to do with how you plan to use it.
10. Emergency kit
You could pull together a kit yourself, and just use this kit’s contents as a guide: It comes with food and water, two 12-hour safety light sticks, emergency blankets, a first aid kit and dust masks. Ten cotton tip applicators, nitrile gloves, an emergency whistle, emergency ponchos and pocket tissues are also included.
11. An ax
If you’re at a campsite where you can build your own fire — and have access to logs that you’re allowed to use — then make sure you take an ax.
12. Toilet paper and paper towels
It’s been a common experience that camp sites are just not very good at ensuring that restrooms and wash basins have what you need, so it is strongly advised to bring along your own toilet paper and paper towels.
13. Plates, cups and cutlery
You don’t need to bring a lot — and you’ll also want to bring along a few things to clean up with after you use it.
14. A really good flashlight
No one wants to fumble around in the dark in a tent in the middle of the night, or trip over a stump on the way to the outhouse.
15. A lockable cooler
If you are camping in a spot where you might encounter curious wildlife that will want to share your food, then you are well-advised to make sure that you get a cooler that locks.
16. A really good pillow
On most car camping trips, there’s no reason you can’t bring nice sheets and pillows to go with your good air mattress and get a restful night’s sleep to prepare you for a great day exploring the wonders of the wilderness.