Camping checklist: tick 'em off here.

I loves me some camping: nothing better than packing up the car with the gear, pointing my nose in the direction of the best weather, and hitting the road. Over the years, I’ve learned a few handy hints to make the adventure pleasant.

1: Don’t camping in the bush with just one child. Especially a four-year old child. Without another adult. Just you and kid? Don’t do it.

2: When faced with a selection of campchairs and deciding which to pack, it might be a good idea to actually **test **the chair beforehand, y’know, just to see if it’s functional or not?

Bring a deck of cards. Always, on every vacation.

My mini kit includes the standard outdoor essentials plus duct tape, superglue, zip ties, and 100 feet of paracord. With that I can fix most anything in an emergency.

A bottle of hot sauce helps most meals, and a few packets of sugar helps the other ones.

Big hats are nice in the sun, rain, and cold.

As I age, ibuprofen and benadryl make the night better. A couple of pills before bed means I sleep well, and wake up less achy.

Two things I always take, a folding pruning saw and a small, cheap manual air pump that I bought to pump up air mattresses but which now gets used to pump oxygen into a smoldering fire to get it to burn better. Make that three things, I have a gigantic (24") but cheap pair of channel lock pliers that I got at a Harbor Freight type place and use as fire tongs. One of my favorite parts of camping is sitting around the fire at night.

Bring glow sticks. That way they can find body if one fails miserably at camping.

And since camping is an ideal way to get a rash from your favorite plant - not just any old plant - bring some ant-itch ointment.

Bring a sleeping bag with snug enough fit that renders you helpless, either that or some honey (to douse yourself with) and a large white plate to climb onto.

A dog or two help keep you warm at night.

My wife and I camp with our dogs - they love it, and sleep in the tent with us. Cozy!

Stuff a full change of clothes into a garbage sack & tie it shut so you have a clean, dry set of clothes to drive home in if you have to break camp in a downpour/snowstorm/120 degree weather.

Make firestarters by putting lint or sawdust into the cups of an empty paper egg carton, then fill the cups with wax. Tear the cups apart when the wax cools and carry them in a ziploc bag.

A water filter like the lifestraw. GI upsets can ruin a vacation.

Try to collect a box of kindling and pine knots for campfires before you go camping. Pine knots burn very hot and are great for getting a campfire started. Having this box of dry kindling will save you time setting up your camp.

Ripstop repair tape or patches come in handy.

DO NOT forget the coffee.

Speaking of coffee, always have an alternative means of making a brew (apart from relying on a campfire). Early morning is NOT the time to be hunting down kindling, fumbling with matches and waiting an interminable time for the kettle to boil.

Haven’t been camping in a few years but would suggest:

[li]Multiple means to start a fire - Several packs of waterproof matches, a BBQ lighter, a cigarette lighter or two and a magnifying glasses. Invariably, at least one will fail to work.[/li][li]Anti-diarrheal medication - definitely do not want to be w/o this.[/li][li]More than one flashlight and extra batteries - again,one will probably fail.[/li][li]A weapon - There are all kinds of weirdos out there and they carry weapons. It would be advisable to carry at least a machete or a small axe both of which have dual use as tools and weapons.[/li][/ol]

Make sure you have your favorite DVDs for the TV in the RV. Ah, nature.

If using a lifestraw like water filtration system, make sure it’s not built in such a way that it is really difficult to suck through (I had one that was an early, similar thing built by REI… it was awesome, except I had to suck so hard it HURT… luckily I had some backup iodine tablets.)

When packing your field guides, make sure you pack the ones for the state you’re visiting (somehow mine and my dad’s got mixed up, and I didn’t notice until I was halfway through a backpacking trip and pulled it out, just to realize it was the wrong one…)

My version of camping is… different. I camp alone. I sleep in the back of my car (Subaru Outback) - with the seats folded down, it’s the perfect size, and no hassle with a tent. I have a memory foam pad and several layers of comforters, to go over or under depending on temperature. I go to bed early and get up early, but I suspect everyone does that when they camp. I take my Kindle and a nightlight. I love my little Coleman stove, and make tea twice a day and soupish food for dinner (2 minute noodles + diced apple + diced salami = not as bad as you might think.) Dry ice in the esky/cooler keeps things very cold, but can also carbonate your food! Weirdest thing: carbonated cold pizza. Surprisingly delicious: carbonated apple. Fizzy!

And, I take lots and lots of photos. Preferably of animals. I’ve actually had some of my best luck watching wildlife right in or nearby official park campgrounds - I think because that’s where the critters are habituated to people, and they don’t run away at my first footfall. My preferred campgrounds are labeled primitive/wilderness, but they shouldn’t be hike in - for obvious reasons :slight_smile:

I only usually take short trips like this, one or two nights, although I spent six days on the road in Humboldt/Oregon last September. I figure, for such a short time, there’s little I can’t do without.

My feet itch! I’m thinking Big Sur next. Maybe next week…

Hah. That was my intention the weekend just gone, but I felt a bit guilty that I’d never taken the grandkidlet out bush with me. And being four and all, he was well and truly overdue for a dirty weekend with Nana. :smiley:

The car is still packed though (minus food) so this weekend coming will see me heading off alone. Big Sur might be a bit of a hike, but I’ve got umpteen national parks within 2 hrs drive of home…

Doing the checklist right now!

Chair (unbroken): check
Wineglass (not plastic cup): check


what about alcohol?? To me that is most important, besides food.

Whaddya mean, ‘besides’ food?


Regarding the campfires…

Take a small bag of match-light charcoal. Put it in the fire ring, pile the wood on top and light the bag. It takes the same time as the careful-tending-with-kindling-and-blowing method, but you’re free to do other stuff while it gets going good. Instead of potholders, we carry a few sets of heavy workgloves in our camping gear. They work for hot pans, and also keep the rest of your hand protected when operating near the fire/grill/etc. With a small fire, you can simply reach in and position the wood as you like, rather than poking with a stick to move the logs.

Other advice:
Put your utensils in a small ($10) tackle box from Wally world. It keeps them out of the weather, bugs, etc., and also leaves the top tray for matches, lantern mantles, toothpicks, etc. It can be left on the picnic table (less tent clutter).

A small package of bungee cords (again from Walmart) can be invaluable. They work great for pinning your table cloth at each end to the picnic table (winds). Just assemble 2 or 3 of them in a suitably sized ring and it’ll usually stay the entire trip.

Regarding water:
For handwashing, we keep a small bucket-rope-soap assembly in our vehicle. We put a bar of soap into the leg of old pantyhose and tie it to the bucket handle. Also a length of rope is tied there as well. When arriving at a campsite, we stretch the rope between two trees and loop the bucket end in such a way the bucket hangs about waist high. When filled with water you can wash your hands using the soap, then let it (soap) hang outside the bucket to dry. Used carefully, the water will last for days before it gets soapy enough to need replaced. A small dollop of Clorox will also add antiseptic if you wish. The rest of the rope can be used as a clothesline for towels etc. When finished, everything fits into the bucket and takes up very little space in the vehicle. This is very useful when you have limited water, or have to carry it to your site.

Absolutely true. Cards are invaluable if you get lost in the wild. Should that happen, sit down in a comfortable spot and start playing solitaire. Within 20 minutes, someone will come up behind your left shoulder and point out that you can play the 7 of spades on the 8 of hearts.

Much more seriously, I have all my camping gear sorted into ziploc bags of various sizes and stored in a couple of tubs. I can pack and be out the door in about 10 minutes.