When it comes to camping, like any niche activity, people have capital “O” opinions. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, it can be overwhelming to hear them all. From where the best places to pitch a tent are, to what the best stove is, to the perfect method of building a campfire, you’ll find advice right and left.
I’ve come to realize though, in my years of camping, that it’s a very personal thing. My parents show up with the car packed to the gills, everything from a washing station to a tent that could fit a small army. We recently went camping with some friends for the first time and their meals for the trip consisted of hot dogs they cooked over the fire and bagels, for the whole weekend. To each his or her own.
There are however, a few things that I’ve learned over the years that makes camping a whole lot better. Take them or leave them, as I said, it’s a personal choice, but here are my camping supplies I can’t leave home without!
A Packing List
On one of my first camping trips with my now fiance, I thought I had the most brilliant idea - canned food! So easy to shop for, to cook and to clean up afterwards. I stocked up for the weekend on canned soup, beans, canned veggies, you name it. On our first night in camp, many miles from the nearest store, we realized that we hadn’t packed a can opener. We spent the majority of the trip painstakingly opening cans with a hatchet. Whether you keep a packing list template in a document on your computer or laminate a copy on your camping ban, having a list you can count on to make sure you have the things you need when you’re out in the wilderness is indispensable.
Always the first thing on my packing list, I would argue that coffee might be the most important thing to bring. I’ve seen camp coffee done a lot of ways, but I like to make camp coffee the way I do at home: in a French Press. Stanley makes this one that insulates and makes enough for a crew. When I backpack, I love Alpine Start instant coffee.
In 2016, we spent the summer living out of our Subaru, camping across the US and Canada. During our 40 days on the road, one of our biggest challenges was keeping our perishable food cool. Cube ice melts so fast and dry ice has the unfortunate effect of carbonating produce, so I always make sure to grab block ice at the grocery store.
A Kid’s Sleeping Bag
Furry friends are all too easily overlooked until it’s 2am and they’re crawling into your sleeping bag because the mountain air plummeted below freezing. We recently got this kid’s sleeping bag from Cabella’s for our shepherd, and she’s in love with it. It’s much cheaper than a specific dog sleeping bag, and it’s the perfect size for her.
An Easy Recipe or Two
Hotdogs over the fire and pasta are great for a night or two, but if you’re a frequent camper, upping your camp cook game is a must. Pick an easy recipe or two to liven up your experience. This kielbasa taco recipe from Bon Appetit is my favorite, and bonus points: it’s super easy to clean up!
When I get back to camp in the heat of the afternoon from a long hike, the last thing I want to do is sit upright in a camp chair. A hammock lets me get horizontal without crawling into the oven of a tent. ENO makes my favorite.
Narrator: This blog was thoughtfully written by Mikaela Ruland. You can find her on Instagram @airundermyheels.