Spring and summer can be the perfect time of year for a camping trip. The weather is getting nicer and the trees are filling in again. Whether you prefer to camp in a parking lot style park or out in the forest, there are several tips and supplies you should remember.
Camping can be divided into three main categories: Roughin’ it, Camping, and Glamping. Roughin’ it involves bringing the bare minimum and is often popular for hikers and backpackers attempting to reach more remote locations. When someone ‘roughs it’, they bring as little with them as possible. There is even specialized gear designated to take on these excursions.
Camping is your typical camping with tents or trailers. This is what most people think of when they hear the word camping: little green tents, a campfire, marshmallows, and ghost stories. Classic, fun times. Families are often the demographic that camps in this traditional sense. After all, it is the cheapest of the three. It is also just enough outdoor to feel adventurous but not miserable.
Glamping is on another level. Glamorous camping, as some call it, is taking all your amenities and luxuries you have at home, and moving them somewhere else, like a forest. When you think of glamping, think of those massive luxury RVs that tow luxury sports cars and boats behind them. As great as this sounds, it is hardly camping.
Seeing that regular camping is the most popular type of camping for us “common folk”, we’ll stick with what to bring on a classic camping trip. If you want to rough it, there are plenty of sources on that, and if you want to glamp well, just bring everything. To start, make sure you bring an appropriate vehicle with you and be sure that vehicle is prepped and ready to go. A good pickup truck is probably the most common camping vehicle as it can easily traverse most terrains without getting stuck or scraping the underside. It also provides ample storage in the bed for tents, sleeping backs, coolers, camp stoves, etc. If you decide to pull a small trailer with you, most pickups can do that too with the attachment of a simple hitch.
As far as supplies go, make sure you have enough food and a way to cool and keep whatever you bring. Just because it’s camping doesn’t mean you have to stick with hot dogs and granola. For sleeping accommodations, sleeping bags are fairly standard. You can use them in a trailer, in a tent, on a cot, or on the ground and you’ll still be pretty comfortable. As for tents and trailers, don’t go overboard. Take the size that is fitting for your needs but be warned, a four-person tent BARELY fits four small people. Don’t be afraid to go a size or two bigger than what it says. Bring clothes you don’t mind spending two days in or getting dirty, but please, bring more than the clothes on your back. You might be camping but nobody wants to smell your BO.
Most people don’t go camping just to sit down the entire time doing nothing. It gets boring and frankly, it’s not the full spirit of camping. Great things to do on your budget forest vacation include fishing, biking, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and whatever else you want to do. Look up the area you plan to camp in to see which recreational gear to bring and which to leave at home. A bicycle at a sandy beach campsite may not work too well, but a kite and snorkel will. Know the area, and pack accordingly. What a lot of people forget to bring are supplies to make a fire. Matches are always number one and it’s not a bad idea to bring kindling and wood. Some areas just don’t have great firewood lying around and you can’t just go chopping down trees. In addition to building the fire, you must, MUST bring marshmallows. I don’t care if it’s to eat them alone, make s’ mores, or watch them catch fire on the end of your stick, you must bring them.
Just in Case
Finally, there are a few items you’ll want to bring just in case something happens. First aid supplies are a given but what most people forget about are extra jackets and raincoats. You never know when the weather could suddenly plummet twenty degrees or it begins to rain. Other members of your party might have also forgotten their jacket and need to borrow your extra one too. Extra food is never a bad idea either. Sure you have to take it out with you when you leave, but it’s better than starving. Rope and extra flashlight batteries are almost a must-have, especially for the forest. Last but not least, have plenty of drinking.
If you know you’ll be in bear territory, you should always sling any and all food you have up high over a branch away from your tent. Never leave it in your car, tent, or trailer because they can easily get into all three, whether you realize it or not.
That pretty much covers the basics of camping. Good luck out there and don’t forget to clean up after yourself. Don’t light fires when the danger is high but if you do, never fall asleep while it’s lit or glowing. Douse it with dirt and water. But most importantly, have fun and be safe. Remember this is supposed to be a vacation, not a chore.
Author: B. Delamater