1. Fire Kit
Depending on fire conditions, you won’t always be able to have a fire, but when you can, it’s helpful to be prepared. When you go camping, pack a fire kit with the things you’ll need to build and start your fire. For example, a lighter, matches, firewood, and a homemade starter can help you get your fire going quickly with less chance of it going out. Bring your own bundle of firewood. Planning ahead helps to preserve the natural resources near your campsite.
You can make a homemade starter with just three items: candle wax, lint, and a cardboard egg carton. When your candles won’t light anymore but still have wax in them, boil the jar in hot water until all the wax melts. Put little balls of lint into the bottoms of an egg carton, and pour the hot wax over the lint. Once all the wax hardens, cut out the individual egg spots and use the finished product as a campfire starter.
Being outside in the sun and smoke of your campfire will make you thirsty, so be sure to bring plenty of water on your camping trip. Bottles of water will come in handy, or you can bring a jug to refill reusable bottles. Besides drinking water, you’ll want a separate water jug for cooking and cleaning. You need water to wash your hands, your food before preparing it, and even to wet your toothbrush! If your camping trip requires backpacking and you don’t want to carry extra water with you, bring a filter so you can have safe drinking water from streams and lakes you find on the way.
Camping and eating the food you roast over the fire or cook in a dutch oven is much more enjoyable when you have something to eat it with. Don’t forget any roasting sticks you might need. Cutting healthy branches near campsites is one of the greatest causes of damage at campgrounds. If you plan on eating more than just hot dogs and marshmallows, you’ll probably need a plate or fork to eat it with. Packing disposable dishes and utensils will give you something to eat with and on in case you’re not just eating finger foods. Or, if you want to pack lighter, you can invest in reusable table sets with a rubber plate, cup/bowl, and with plastic utensils.
Sure, your phone might also be a flashlight, but you’ll want to also have a flashlight, headlamp, or lantern ready in case your phone’s battery dies or even just to save your battery for something better. Speaking of batteries, you’ll also want to have some spare ones handy in case your flashlight needs some more juice and you may want to consider bringing a battery pack to recharge your phone. If you don’t want to use something battery-powered, you can use a propane lantern. Lanterns, whether battery-powered or propane, are especially helpful when you are getting ready for bed in a tent. That way when you set it down, you don’t just have one bright beam pointing in a single direction, instead, it will light up the entire tent. If you’ve got kids, a $10 pack of glow sticks can be a big hit. That glowing necklace will make it easy to keep track of the kids running around in the dark and they make great nightlights when they’re ready to crash.
5. Cleaning & First Aid Kit
When you aren’t sure what the conditions are like where you are going to camp, it’s nice to be over-prepared. Bringing soap to wash your dishes and hands with is a good idea. You can use hand sanitizer for some things, but for others, it’s safer to use soap. You will also want to have some toilet paper. Remember, if you have to use the outdoors as your restroom, don’t leave toilet paper lying around. Instead, follow the “Leave No Trace” principles, pack out what you pack in, and where bury appropriately. In your first aid kit, you’ll want to have the standard bandages and antiseptic, but you’ll also want to be sure to include tweezers, sunscreen, and bug spray.
As you go camping this summer, you might discover more things you want to add to your list. Camping can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t need to be. Any outdoor store will try to sell you the newest and best piece of camping gear and trust me, it’s tempting to buy, but you don’t need the shiniest things to have fun in the outdoors. Thrift stores can be a great way to get the gear you need at a good price. Finding the things you really need will help you simplify your camping trip while still having fun!