10 Things Every Person Should Bring on a Camping Trip
A large majority of my life has been spent in the wilderness. My father raised me to be capable and prepared for whatever may come, whether I found myself in the woods or in the desert. Over the course of the past several years, I have spent each summer living in a tent in the middle of nowhere. During my first season in the desertous forest where I made my home, my camp was fairly bare-bones. By the last, you could say that I’d come to build something of a fortress. Regardless of the circumstance, there are a number of tools and items that have proven necessary for comfort, pleasure, and survival.
Making yourself at home with the three basic necessities: shelter, fire, and water
The first consideration should always be shelter. Depending on your situation, I regard three items to be vital when building an abode that will shield you from the elements. A good tent is obvious. Beyond that, there are two things that can make or break the establishment of one’s repose from whatever the weather may throw at you: rope and tarps. In my experience, a clear sky and a bright sun never promise safety from the potential of a sudden downpour. Finding a spot amongst the trees—which in themselves provide security from wind and rain—will allow you to erect a canopy that can save you from waking up in a swamped tent. Place your tarp or tarps at least one foot above the top of your tent, and make sure that your canopy has a slight angle to it.
Second in importance to shelter is fire. Fire keeps your warm, cooks your food, and makes for good company when you’re out on your own. Let’s go ahead and lump two items into one. Bring matches and a lighter. Basically, make sure that you have some way of starting a fire, and it never hurts to have a backup source. Furthermore, a means of cutting firewood is essential. Once again, choose one or more from three items: an axe, hatchet, or sturdy, long-bladed knife.
We have five necessities to go, and your next thought should be of water. It is important to have some sort of vessel capable of carrying a large quantity of it—several gallons at least. Also, a smaller container such as a water bottle or canteen is necessary if you’ll be hiking away from your camp. Let’s call these two one and the same—bring whatever you need to keep yourself hydrated.
It’s the little things that matter
Once shelter, fire, and water are covered, the remaining four suggestions become rather personalized. A good pot has a number of universal applications. With a pot one can boil water, heat soup, beans, or rice, or even fry a reasonable steak.
The first stint I spent living in the woods, I forgot to bring a flashlight. A flashlight can literally save your life. I’ve know people who have wandered off cliffs, gotten lost in the forest, and nearly frozen to death because they couldn’t find their matches to start a fire in the dark. Furthermore, if you’re out in the desert and you want to get really blood-and-guts, you can use a flashlight to collect water from the morning air. Here’s how:
Unscrew the lens and remove the batteries, then use the tube to dig a hole in the sand. Next, stand the gutted flashlight at the bottom of the hole. Finally, take that tarp I mentioned earlier and spread it across the hole, placing a stone in the center so that it dips to a point just above the flashlight. Come mid-morning, it will have collected condensation from the air. As an added bonus, the lens can be used to signal search parties or planes in the case of an emergency.
Another necessity when it comes to both comfort and survival is to bring along whatever gear is necessary for warmth. Whether that means a good sleeping bag, a heavy jacket, or layers of clothing, no person can enjoy themselves or keep from freezing if they haven’t prepared for the cold.
Finally—and this recommendation is personal favorite—campers throughout the ages have found booze to make an excellent addition to any trip into the wild. If you’re carrying your supplies, think in terms of bringing along a bottle of liquor instead of beer as it will save room in your pack. Whether on your own or in the company of others, the warming companionship of alcohol can lead to relaxation and the occasional rousing campfire sing-along.
I’ve left food off the list intentionally, as it goes without mention. Unless one is heading out with the intention of living solely off the land, no fool would forget food. And if you are going for the pure survivalist angle, I would have to provide you with a vastly different list of necessities.
The old ‘blood and guts’ routine
Such a list would not include a tent, water container, or flashlight. It would certainly retain the need for a good knife, some sort of warm clothing, a reasonable method of creating fire, a pot (which has proven itself to be truly indispensable time and time again), and perhaps the rope, axe, tarp, and that bottle of booze for the really cold and lonely nights.
The pure survivalist will find great value in a saw of some kind. With it, it is possible to easily portion the makings of a shelter, create all sizes and manners of animal traps, and quarter animals in the event that you’ve downed something unmanageably large.
For those who are expecting to find themselves in the wilderness for long periods of time, this last recommendation may seem trivial but it can in fact prove itself indispensible: a needle and stout thread. When you’re roughing it, your clothes will fall to tatters, and it is important to be able to keep them from going entirely to pieces. The same goes for any tent or tarp you may be dependent upon. Thread can be used as fishing line, or in a number of small game traps.
Lastly, in the event that one finds him or herself injured in some manner, that needle and thread can be used to suture up the wound. More than once I’ve found myself gritting my teeth (and here, once again, is where that booze can come in handy) and stitching myself back together. The whole thing may seem like quite an ordeal, but remember—it’s all part of experience.