Must Have Items When Going on a Family Camping Trip
Questions to Ask Before Compiling Your List
So you are going camping with the family. The scenic outdoors. The smell of nature. The smell of hamburgers on the grill. Wait! Who forgot the matches?
Camping can be a lot of fun, and, though the times when we forgot something and had to imporvise make the best stories, most of us want to be well prepared.
I do most of my camping in Washington state so that means weather preparedness. Location is always a good indicator of what you will need to bring. If you are going somewhere cold or rainy it requires more or higher quality gear than a sunny beach.
The next question you should ask yourself is, "What type of camper are you?" Are you one of those people who wants to live off the wild land away from everyone? Or do you prefer to pack an RV with all the comforts of home?
For our purposes we are going to try to aim somewhere in the middle. Obviously if you are at either extreme you can add or subtract from the list.
- Tent (or hammock and tarp with stakes and/or rope)
I prefer a hammock because the ground can be very uncomfortable. However, the tarp is open at both ends so this is probably not a good choice if you are going somewhere very cold. Although a mattress pad under the sleeping bag will help keep in the heat a little.
- Small hatchet with hammer end (for pounding in stakes)
- Extra tarps (for rain)
- Extra rope
- Sleeping bag (an air mattress or mattress pad is a nice addition)
- Matches (in a waterproof container like a zip-lock bag)
If you are going to be someplace really wet you may want to invest in fire starters.
Some camp grounds have restrictions about burning the brushwood, other campers may have already scavenged the wood or it could be very wet.
- Grill (if your campsite does not already have one)
- Outdoor clothing
This will vary depending on your location, but it is a good idea to always pack an extra set of clothes and a couple extra pairs of underwear and socks. And a rain poncho is never a bad idea.
- Camp shoes
Besides your hiking boots, it is a good idea to have a set of camp shoes for relaxing by the fire. If you have small children you will probably want to pack them three pairs of shoes as one set will invariably always be wet and sitting by the fire.
Depending on were you go this may include quarters for the shower or a portable camp shower. However, the basics are towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant and comb. If you have to hike to the facilities the camp shoes will come in handy. If you are camping at a location without facilities you will also need toilet paper and a trowel. (Remember to buy biodegradable.)
- Flashlights and batteries
Someone always needs to take a bathroom break in the middle of the night. Plus if you are like my family you never make the early start you thought you would and end up setting up camp in the dark.
A couple of items that may not be essential but I prefer to have along are:
- Camp or lawn chairs
The wooden benches are usually attached to tables and even if they aren't they are difficult to move and not very comfortable
- Plastic tablecloth
How many people and other things have been on that table before you?
- Citronella candle
I've never liked bug spray, it leaves me feeling sticky and unclean.
- Sun block (if you are going to a beach)
Pass the S'mores
Food can be a tricky item when camping so I thought I'd tackle it separately. Of course you can always subsist entirely on hot-dogs and s'mores, but depending on the length of your trip you might all come home a little ill. So here are some of my suggestions.
- Pancakes and bacon
You will need pancake mix, bowl, mixing spoon, spatula, skillet, cooking oil, bacon and syrup
You will need a small pan for heating water, instant oatmeal and milk
- Eggs and hash-browns
You will need eggs, potatoes, knife, peeler, skillet, spatula, cooking oil, ketchup and whatever other condiments your family prefers
- Sandwiches with chips and fruit
The nice thing about sandwiches is that you don't have to hang around the camp site. Stuff them in a backpack and explore your surroundings. You will need bread, lunch meat, cheese, condiments, lettuce, tomato, knife (for cutting the tomato), chips and fruit. Trail-mix also makes a nice addition to this lunch.
Salami, cheese and crackers with trail-mix and/or dried fruit
If you are planning to take a day hike then this is a good option because it requires no utensils except a knife to cut the salami and cheese.
Grilled fish and vegetables
If you are planning to do some fishing, grilled fish is a natural choice. However, make sure there is another option in case your fishing is less than successful. You will need fishing equipment, vegetables, seasoning (I prefer a little salt and lemon pepper), butter and aluminum foil.
Hamburgers and baked beans
It's a good idea to bring aluminum foil to grill on. You will also need hamburgers, buns, condiments, cheese, lettuce, tomato, spatchula, can opener, stirring spoon and a small camp pan.
Hot-dogs and corn on the cob
You will need hot-dogs, buns, condiments, cheese, corn on the cob, skewers for the hot-dogs (Old coat hangers work great if you burn them in the fire first.) and aluminum foil for wrapping the corn.
Baked potatoes and chili
Potatoes take awhile to cook in fire coals so be sure and start this meal early. You will need potatoes, aluminum foil, chili, can opener, cheese, onions, stirring spoon and a small camp pan.
No camping trip would be complete without smores. All you need is chocolate, graham crackers, marshmellows and skewers.
Also, don't forget the paper plates, cups, bowls and plasticwere.
Organize, organize, organize
The real key to a successful camping trip is the organization. Ask yourself the questions I mentioned above. Find out about your campsite before you arrive. This will help you create an accurate check list of camping gear.
Then organize your camping gear. Pack your equipment so that you can get to the flashlights easily in case you arrive after dark. Pack the tent, stakes and hatchet last so they can be unpacked first. Also, double check your children's items. They will undoubtedly have forgotten something and/or packed something they were told not to bring.
Camping is a great way to get away from the stresses of life. I hope you and your family have a great time.