Spending a week outdoors can be a fantastic adventure or a nightmare. Usually, good or bad camping experience comes down to one factor: what you packed (or unpacked) for your trip. Putting the necessary camping items in a backpack can mean the difference between a quiet vacation in the woods and taking the nearest emergency room. Whether you’re a first-time camper or an experienced survivalist, don’t leave our readers talking about essential items for nature outings.
Even if you like to play rumber under the stars, always have a tent or other emergency shelter in case. Otherwise, midnight rainstorms, violent snowstorms or heavy dew are sure to make you drenched, miserable and in danger of hypothermia. Tents can also protect you and your equipment from strong winds. Whether you choose the best two person tent or a larger cabin style tent, make sure you bring all the necessary accessories: ropes, tent poles, stakes and rain flies.
2. Sleeping bag
Lying on a bed of moss and leaves may sound interesting, but it won’t keep you warm when the sun goes down. The temperature may drop greatly at dusk, sometimes by 20 degrees or more. Also remember that many insects are most active at night and may touch your loose body. People who don’t have a sleeping bag can only get a good sleep at best. They sleep badly. And if you’ve ever tried camping with kids, you’ll know that without their sleeping bags, they’ll toss and turn all night.
3. Water bottle
Water is essential for the best living environment outdoors, and the farther you go, the faster the water flows. The last thing campers want is to get stuck when there is no fresh water supply, especially since drinking water from a pond or lake can cause serious disease due to bacteria. Even if the wilderness you are entering is only a few feet away from your car, store wet materials for the day in camel hair or other large containers. Then, keep the filter or water purification tablets handy in case you have to fill the water from a nearby stream.
Camping is not about camping without a warm, creaking campfire, so you need to get these tools up and running quickly. Campers can use flint and steel fire, matches, cigarette lighters or magnesium igniters. If you choose matches, make sure they are waterproof. It’s a good idea to pack two fire starters just in case. Also put something in a waterproof container, such as dry bark or newspaper strips. Finding dry point fuel when needed outdoors can be a challenge.
5. First aid kit
You are less likely to suffer life-threatening injuries when camping, but even a long day of hiking can cause blisters and require dressing. If not treated in time, small wounds can be infected quickly, so always use bandages and preservatives. Your first aid kit should also include other necessities: scissors, adhesive, gauze, soap, CPR mask and emergency whistle. Make sure you also throw sunscreen and insect repellent into the bottle. Sunburn and insect bites can end your journey like a tear.
6. Pocket knife
The knife is the ultimate multi-functional tool for outdoor sports. You can use knives to trim ropes, cut fishing lines, square bait, slice cheese or sausage, open sealed packages, sharpen sticks, handle tangled vines, tighten screws, or peel small animals’ skin. Without a knife, such a task would be almost impossible. If you leave the knife at home, it’s usually frustrating.
7. Maps and compass (or paid GPS)
If your camping route requires hiking in remote areas, do not have a map, compass or GPS. The ever-changing position of the sun may make forest landmarks strange, thus making hikers lose their way. Unprepared campers occasionally linger in the woods for days before being rescued or finding a way to return to the camp. It’s no joke to get lost or in trouble in the woods, especially when the water supply is limited. Even if your child only wants to walk from the camp to the nearest stream, make sure they have a way to return safely.
8. Clothes and rain gear suitable for the weather
Camping means there are only a few clothes to choose from, so it’s important to keep them dry. Walking in wet clothes is not only unpleasant, but can be dangerous in cooler climates considering low temperatures. Also, wet equipment is heavy equipment, which can make it uncomfortable and difficult to pull a backpack. Choose a lightweight waterproof and rainproof jacket to accommodate multiple layers of clothing. If it doesn’t cover your backpack, consider taking another rain bag to protect your equipment.
9. Flashlight, lantern or headlamp
The bonfire may be nice and bright, but it can only stretch about six feet in any direction. If you need to find items in tents or visit toilets at night, portable battery-powered lights are priceless. Many campers tout the headlights as the best choice for their hands-free features.
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