If you have been following our adventures for a while, you know that we struggle to pack just the basics for a camping setup. We typically pack everything we think we may need, plus backup. Since the pandemic, we have needed to do some quick overnight camping trips and it has caused us to really rethink what we NEED to have when we camp. Now don’t get me wrong, we still love to glamp, but sometimes all you need is the basics. Keep reading to see what we recommend for a basic setup and the things we never camp without.
Tent – A tent is the first thing on the list of basics for a camping setup. If you are planning for your first camping trip, this is probably the hardest item to select, but definitely the most important. A good tent is the only thing between you and the elements, so tents can be a pretty serious investment. If you’re certain that camping will be in your future, go ahead and make the investment in a versatile, high-quality tent. Your tent is your shelter and place of refuge from the elements, so buy the best tent you can afford. Now if you’re trying camping for the first time, be open to doing what we did and borrowing a tent or purchasing a decent, inexpensive tent that will do the job but may not last forever.
Sleeping Pad/Air Mattress – To get a good night’s rest while camping, you’ll need a good sleeping pad. Sleeping pads vary in thickness, portability, and price, but make sure whatever you purchase is comfortable. Don’t be afraid to go into the store and try it out. Now, if the price of a sleeping pad is too much, don’t hesitate to use an air mattress from home. When we first started camping, the air mattress was our go-to, but know that, especially in cooler weather, an air mattress will flatten overnight due to the air contracting. Our first upgrade from our home air mattress was the Alps Mountaineering Air Bed. This was a little lighter and didn’t lose as much air as our home air mattress. Unfortunately, like all air mattresses, after a couple of years, it developed a leak, but it was still a huge upgrade from a regular air mattress.
Sleeping Bag – A sleeping bag is your first defense against cold weather when camping, so pack one that is rated for the temperature you are camping in. Our first double sleeping bag was the Teton Mammoth. It was thick and warm, but also big and bulky. Now we use a double sleep system that’s not as bulky, but also not quite as warm. If a sleeping bag isn’t quite in your budget yet, don’t be afraid to take a couple of blankets and comforters from home to keep you warm at night. And of course, don’t forget your pillow.
Portable Toilet – Although many organized campgrounds have bathroom facilities, we prefer to bring our own portable toilet for convenience. Who wants to walk to the public facilities or even leave the tent in the middle of the night? With a portable toilet, this is a non-issue. And since the pandemic, the portable toilet is actually something we leave in our vehicle full-time.
Lights – It gets pretty dark at night when camping, so make sure you pack at least one light for your tent. For use outside of the tent, we recommend a headlamp to allow you the freedom to use your hands.
Food and Drinks – Everyone has to eat, so make sure you bring the food and drinks you need to get through the weekend, or at least have a plan. If you’re close to civilization, eating out is always an option for food.
We hope these few tips make planning for your next camping trip a little less overwhelming and give you a little more direction on what you will actually need to have when you go camping. If you have questions or need advice, feel free to contact us for assistance planning your next camping trip.