But to do so successfully requires gear and planning. Being out in the wilderness with essentials to make a trip comfortable will determine whether or not relaxation is a possibility.
Although there is a plethora of camping gear and brands to choose from, here we’ve compiled a list of 8 must-haves that are sure to enhance your outdoors experience.
One of the joys of immersing yourself in nature is eating there. It’s a change up from the normal evening meal cooked in the kitchen and eaten at a dinner table.
There is an immense variety of options to choose from, but one of the easiest and most affordable are propane stoves, preferably a two burner since you’re car camping. We’ve personally used this Coleman stove about a million times and it’s never let us down.
The fuel is cheap and easy to find at Walmart or any outdoors store, and the two burners allow for different foods to be cooked simultaneously.
Nothing improves a camping trip like waking up to the smell of bacon, eggs, and coffee on a cool morning.
If you’re looking for a more lightweight, less cumbersome option that could also double as backpacking stove, there are plenty to choose from. Look into brands like MSR and JetBoil for high quality and easy setup.
Illuminating the campsite provides visibility and safety once the sun goes down, so it goes without saying a light source is essential. Common today and for good reasons are headlamps.
They allow hands-free use and most offer different levels and types of lighting, such as dim and strobe (good for an emergency). Other headlamps offer the option of red light, which can be preferable since red light doesn’t reset a person’s night vision or attract bugs the way white light does.
Investing in a lantern is a good idea as well. Or, if you spend a lot of time outdoors camping, grab a set of Luminoodle rope lights from Power Practical. These can be hung around the camp site or in your tent and they put off a ton of light — much easier than trying to find that perfect place to precariously hang a lantern!
Cutting Firewood: Saw and/or Hatchet
A camping getaway isn’t a true camping getaway without a campfire, so a method of cutting wood is a necessity.
Saws provide a safer and more efficient way to build up wood stock, but there’s also no better feeling than bashing a tree with a hatchet. Just make sure you know how to use a hatchet correctly and safely before you start swinging.
Unless you’re experienced with a hatchet, we’d stick with a saw. If you’re worried about storage, Sven Saw sells a fold-up triangle saw that’s lightweight, but durable.
While many camping items are essential, none matter more when it comes to comfort than what sleeping gear you bring along.
When you’re shopping for a sleeping bag, pay attention to two numbers: the comfort rating and the lower-limit rating.
The comfort rating tells the lowest temperature in which the average woman/cold sleeper will sleep comfortably in that bag.
The lower-limit rating indicates the lowest temperature in which the average man/warm sleeper will sleep comfortably in that bag.
Unless you’re camping in the tundra or planning a winter camping trip, any bag over 30 degrees Fahrenheit will do fine. You may not always be comfortable, but you also won’t lose a foot. That’s always a bonus!
Ultimately, if you’re just car-camping, then comfort is the primary goal and the weight of your sleeping bag isn’t important like it would be with backpacking.
A spacious, warm, and waterproof sleeping bag is ideal. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a quality affordable sleeping bag here by CRAZO.
Neck support is also vital to a good nights sleep, as any camper who has gone without one can tell you.
There’s nothing much worse than waking up with a stiff neck. CRAZO shows up to save the day here, with their inflatable camping pillow.
Like sleeping gear, the appropriate clothing is exceptionally important. A day of hiking or just setting up camp and chopping firewood is enough to break a sweat, so throw in an extra set of clothes to sleep in, because sleeping in dirty clothes is far from the best feeling.
Also, keep in mind the right clothing needed for temperature — think base layer, middle layer, and outer layer.
The base layer is what makes contact with your skin. Synthetic base layers (like Under Armour) are beneficial for hiking, because they wick away sweat and dry quickly. Wool, on the other hand, provides a much warmer sleep so keep that in mind if temperatures are low.
But the golden rule of outdoors clothing, especially with your base layer, is to avoid cotton.
The middle layer is your insulating layer. Basically, the layer that keeps you warm. This is where fleece or down materials come into play.
Your outer layer is your protection against the elements. If there is rain in the forecast, be sure to throw in a waterproof jacket or at least a poncho.
Camping First Aid
You never need a first aid kit until, well, you need one.
Going into the woods without one can prove dangerous when injuries occur. From a sprained ankle to an injury while cutting firewood, accidents happen and you’re better off prepared than not. Especially if you’re camping off-the-grid, as is usually the case.
First aid kits won’t hurt your pockets and, these days, they come with all the necessary items in one bundle.
Skipping out on bringing first aid creates unnecessary risk to your outdoors experience.
Rope is a camping item that proves to be valuable across the board: hanging shelter, hammocks, clothes lines, and, most importantly, your food at night.
Nothing puts a damper on a trip like waking up to discover that coyotes or raccoons feasted on your morning breakfast. Rope/Cordage is cheap and lasts as long as you maintain it.
Bit of an aside: if you’re in bear country, be sure you research proper food storage. In some places you can get away with hanging your food in a bear bag, but most places in bear country will require a bear canister.
Ever tried camping without somewhere to set food, beverages, or utensils down? It’s a hassle.
There are a variety of table types fit for camping, but one of the most convenient are collapsible aluminum builds. Unlike the standard backyard BBQ folding plastic table, collapsible tables generally fold up into a small bag, saving lots of space.
Get Out There!
Exploring the outdoors should be an experience of repose, not inconvenience.
A trip can either be enjoyable or a misery, but if you bring these essentials, then it’s bound to be a good one.
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