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Camping Resources

How to Plan for a Camping Trip

The wilderness can be unforgiving, even with the proper gear. The last thing you want is to reach a remote destination and find that you forgot something essential. Develop a plan to guarantee that you’re well equipped.

Step 1:
Establish a staging area. Use a corner of your garage or living room and pile gear there prior to packing. If you have the space, begin moving gear to the staging area several days ahead of time. This prevents overloading your brain at the last minute.

Step 2:
Take a good look at your gear pile when you think it’s complete. Spend a minute reviewing your checklist and check everything on it.

Step 3:
Pack your clothing. You want to layer your clothing to meet changing temperatures and conditions. Pack spare clothing in case you get wet. Avoid cotton unless your trip is in a very warm climate–cotton dries slowly and offers no insulation when wet. Synthetic long underwear and jackets are best. Include a warm wool or fleece hat.

Step 4:
Test your gear before you go. Know how to operate your camp stove, and bring the proper fuel.

Step 5:
Purchase several small and medium nylon bags (stuff sacks) to divide your gear. Cooking gear can go in one bag, first aid items in another bag, and so on.

Step 6:
Plan your water supply. If water is scarce, consider having a large water bladder in your pack, such as those made by Camelback. In addition to offering a high capacity, water bladders have a hose that allows you to drink while you’re on the move. Water purification tablets are indispensable.

Step 7:
Buy a good sleeping pad or two. Many people like to stack a full-length sleeping pad on top of a shorter one. The extra warmth and comfort makes the weight and bulk worthwhile. Camping stores have several brands of pads, from $20 to $100.

Step 8:
Plan your meals ahead, so you’ll be guaranteed to have enough food. For short camping stints, your grocery list might include milk, butter, cheese and crackers, bread, buns, vegetables, fruit, dried and/or fresh, meat (burgers, hot dogs, shish kabobs), canned foods (chili and soup), condiments and spices, trail mix, energy bars, cookies, s’mores fixings, soda, juice, tea, cocoa, cider, coffee and alcoholic beverages.

Step 9:
Weigh luxuries against absolute necessities (for instance, a handheld GPS is fun and helpful, but a map and compass work fine, too). Your specific destination may require additional gear or far less, if weight is an issue.

Tips & Warnings
  • Have some spare clothing, but resist the urge to bring everything in your closet. Most people don’t use all the clothing they bring and regret having to carry it.
  • Remember to freeze ice packs the night before you leave.
  • Get a map of your destination. The best backpacking maps are the 7.5-minute series from the United States Geological Survey. These are available from backpacking stores or online at mapmart. com. The highly motivated should buy mapping software like National Geographic’s Topo program, available for the United States by state and region.
  • Purchase a headlamp instead of a flashlight for hands-free convenience (available at REI.com for $20 to $40).
  • When you’re hiking, stop frequently to look around. Note landmarks and you’ll be less likely to get lost. Discuss with the group what to do if someone gets lost.
Camping Check List
Camping with Children
  • Baby Swing
  • Backpack carriers
  • Bottles/sippycups
  • Current photos of the children in case they get lost
  • Diapers
  • Extra pair(s) of shoes
  • Favorite blanket or stuffed toy(very important!)
  • Formula
  • Gerber toddler foods
  • Hats
  • Jar foods
  • Jogging strollers
  • kidsafe bugspray
  • MANY sets of clothing
  • Playyards
  • Portapotty with grocery bag liner (easy cleanup)
  • Powdered milk(for children that have outgrown formula)
  • Snacks
  • Storybooks
  • sunblock
  • Swim Diapers
  • Toys
  • Wipes
Cleaning & Personal Items
  • Bar soap
  • Comb/hair brush/clips/bands/hair ties
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Deodorant
  • Dish rack
  • Dishwashing soap and rubber gloves
  • Feminine supplies
  • Hand Sanitizer (waterless)
  • Laundry Detergent (biodegradeable preferred)
  • Make-up bag
  • Razor & shaving cream
  • Shampoo
  • To save space, unroll toilet paper and reroll it and put inside the tube
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Whisk broom to clean table and tent site
  • Bandanna
  • Hat
  • Jacket – As weather dictates; Eskimo style, mackintosh, windbreaker, etc.
  • Pants/Overalls, with belt
  • PJs
  • Poncho – Doubles as emergency tent/lean-to
  • Shirt – 2 or 3 (one light, one flannel)
  • Shoes, shower shoes, HIKING BOOTS
  • Socks – 2 pair
  • Sulfer – keeps chiggers out of your clothes
  • Sunglasses
  • Swim suit
  • Underwear – 2
  • Work gloves & warm mittens/gloves
  • Can opener – If you have canned goods
  • Charcoal or wood & Grill for BBQ
  • Coffee maker & filters
  • Cooking skewers (for hot dogs, s’mores, etc.)
  • Cutting Board
  • Dutch Oven
  • Firestarter sticks (wax/sawdust things from the grocery store)
  • Firewood
  • Frying Pan – Nonstick w/plastic spatula is nice
  • Measuring cup
  • Newspapers for lighting a campfire
  • P-38 Can Opener (military type, small, flat and fits in wallet)
  • Pot lifter and/or pot holders
  • Pot or sauce pan – Big enough to cook noodles for all with lid
  • Sandwich maker (type you put in fire)
  • Soup Ladel
  • Stew Pot
  • Stove with fuel & lighter
  • Strainer
  • Tablecloth
  • Thermos
  • Tongs
  • Veggie Peeler
  • Alladin travel mug
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Collapsable camping/hiking cup
  • Dish Pan
  • Dish soap
  • Garbage disposal bags (stronger than regular trash bags)
  • Kitchen knife – Nice to have; in general, carry a pocket knife
  • Knife, Fork, Spoon, Spatula
  • Paper plates, cups, bowls, etc.
  • Paper towels & napkins
  • Plastic knives, forks, spoons
  • Plate – Partition tray/plate is nice
  • Scrub Pad
  • Small flat and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Trash bags
  • Tupperware (for leftovers)
  • Ziploc Bags
Food & Drink
  • Bacon – 2 slices per person per day
  • Beans
  • Beer
  • Bouillon cubes – Chicken & Vegetable
  • Bread – One or two loaves per day if camping with a small group
  • Butter – 1/2 stick per person per day
  • Catsup
  • Cereal
  • Cheese – Cheddar, Swiss, American
  • Cocoa, Coffee, & Teas (don’t forget SUGAR!)
  • Cooking Oil – About 1 oz per person per day or Pam Spray
  • Corn on Cob
  • Deli meat slices: Turkey, Ham, Salami
  • Dry condiments – Salt, Pepper, Spices, Sugar
  • Eggs – 1-2 per person per day, fresh or powdered
  • Fixin’s for stew (some of the items are above)
  • Frozen hash browns in the bag
  • Fruit – Small fruit cups or fresh fruit
  • Ham
  • Hamburger meat (pre seasoned and ready to cook)
  • Hamburgers & Buns
  • Hot dogs & buns
  • Jiffy Pop or Regular popcorn
  • Lil Smokies
  • Malt-o-meal, or Cream of…{wheat, rice, …}
  • Marshmallows, Graham Crackers & Hershey Bars (S’mores)
  • Mayo – Small jar or squeeze bottle
  • Milk, juice, soft drinks, Ice Tea, Lemon Ade, Kool-Aid
  • Mustard
  • Noodles – Spaghetti, Angel Hair, Ramen, or shells
  • Nutri Grain Bars/Granola Bars
  • Oatmeal – Instant single serving packs
  • Onions, lemons, mushrooms, Tomatoes
  • Pancake Mix – Krusteaze, 1/2 cup per person per day (need large skillet)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Popcorn oil
  • Potatoes – 1-2 per person per day — freeze dried if packing
  • Rice packages
  • Snacks
  • Soup/Chili – mix or cans
  • Spaghetti Sauce – In jars or dehydrated
  • Spray oil (like Pam)
  • Squeeze butter or margarine
  • Steak
  • Syrup – About 2 oz per person per day
  • Taco Stuff – (Meat, seasoning package, olives, lettuce, tortillas, buns)
  • Tuna – Don’t forget Mayo, pickles, and onions
  • Veggies – carrot/celery sticks
  • Vienna Sausages
Lighting – Check batteries!
  • Battery less Bulbless Flashlight
  • BIC lighter
  • Gas lantern (and/or electric)
  • Glow Sticks
  • Maglight – The larger, the better
  • Matches (preferably water proof)
  • Solar Panel
  • Spare batteries and bulbs
  • Spare lantern fuel and mantles
  • Allergy Eye drops
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Antiseptic, Band-Aids and bandages
  • Benadryl Sinus Tablets
  • Box of latex gloves (100 pack)
  • Bug Repellent – Spray, Citronella Candle, etc.
  • Campho-phenique (good for minor burns, cuts, scrapes and many use it on poison ivy)
  • Epipen if you have allergies
  • Extra weeks supply of any Prescriptions
  • First Aid Kit (may include all the above items)
  • Moist Towelettes (for cleaning wounds and early uses on poison ivy)
  • Pocket Tissues
  • Sunscreen
  • Tums
  • Tweezers for splinters & ticks
  • Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, Naproxin
  • Basic tools (screwdrivers, pliers, etc.)
  • Bike/Seats/Helmets
  • Binoculars
  • Books (ID books, Little House), cards, games, toys, Bible, etc.
  • Camcorder w/good battery and extra tapes
  • Camera w/good battery and extra film
  • Canoe or boat
  • Card table
  • Cellular phone w/extra battery and car adapter
  • Chairs
  • Clothesline and Clothespins
  • Compass and Map
  • Copper pipe pieces for the campfire See note
  • Crankup Radio
  • Duct tape and/or electrical tape
  • Dustbuster
  • Ear Plugs (to block out the noisy neighbors)
  • Extension cords
  • Eyeglass strap (to hold them on your head)
  • Fire starters (found in BBQ sections of stores) made from wax and sawdust
  • Fishing pole and gear (+ license & bait!)
  • Fly Swatters
  • Guitar/Harmonicas/Other musical instrument(s)
  • Heavy rubber bands
  • Leather strips
  • Life jackets
  • List of important phone numbers
  • Milk crates (good for storage, step ladder and more)
  • MONEY, credit card, ID
  • Pads of paper and pencils/pens
  • Pet Food
  • Piece of carpeting (fake grass) for tent or RV entranceway
  • Pocket Tool
  • Radio and/or TV
  • Rope or String
  • Safety pins
  • Sand Paper
  • Sewing kit
  • Signal Mirror
  • Small shovel
  • Spare car/truck/boat/rv keys
  • Steel Wool (can be used to start a fire by touching ends of battery to it – BE CAREFUL!)
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Toothpicks
  • Travel Clock
  • Two way radio(s) (ham, CB, Family)
  • Weather Radio
  • Whistles
Packing – Put food on the bottom (you’ll need other items first)
  • 5 gallon bucket or similar container
  • Backpack, daypack, and/or fanny pack
  • Bags – Tent bag, grocery bags, etc.
  • Cardboard boxes if needed
  • Ice Chests
  • ICE!
  • Large (18-30 gal) Rubbermaid(tm) container for food storage
  • Campground reservation info.
  • Directions to the actual campground.
  • Good Sam membership card (if you’re a member)
  • 10-12 inch nails from hardware store for emergency tent stakes
  • Camp axe or hammer to pound tent stakes
  • Emergency blanket
  • Floor Mats (use at tent entrance)
  • Ground Cloth – Tarp for big tents
  • Hay bale (to spread in dirt or mud areas).
  • Mattress or pad – Inflator for air mattress
  • Overhead rain tarps (not just shade).
  • Pillows
  • Seam Sealer
  • Shade Canopy & Rope & Stakes
  • Sign that says No Candles in Tents!
  • Sleeping bag
  • Space Blanket
  • Tea candles to mark where tent stakes are
  • Tent
  • Tikki Torches (fill with citronella oil), also listed in medical.
  • At least 1/2 gallon per person/day — Water filter if relying on natural water sources
  • Garden hose
  • Water bottle, to carry while hiking