Organizing for Camping
written by Keith Sutton
"Plan for the worse and hope for the best." That old saying has merit when you're camping.
If you've never camped before, you may be worried you'll be missing something important when you arrive at your camping destination. To be honest, it happens to all of us sooner or later. We unroll our tent and find we don't have any stakes. The skillet we thought we packed is at home on the stove. The weather turns cold and we remember we should have brought extra clothes.
What you need will depend largely on what type of camping trip you're planning. If you're driving to a campsite, for example, you can take whatever your vehicle will hold. If you're backpacking to your camp, however, you'll have to limit the weight and volume of your gear.
The key is to be as thorough as possible, and err on the side of caution when trying to decide whether or not something on your list should be packed. Some items -- matches, toilet paper, a flashlight and rain gear, for instance -- should be packed for every trip, regardless of whether you think you might need them or not. Others such as fishing tackle, playing cards and binoculars may or may not need to go depending on your plans once you reach your destination.
Cash, credit cards, checks
Required licenses and permits (for camping, hunting, fishing, etc.)
Waterproof matches and butane lighter
Multi-tool and/or Swiss army knife
Flashlight, spare batteries and bulb
Maps and compass or GPS
Hat, cap, toboggan
Extra prescription glasses/contacts
Watch, alarm clock
Sunscreen, lip balm
Tent, tent fly, poles, stakes and ropes (set up the tent before leaving to be sure everything is there and you know how to put it up)
Hammer or hatchet (for driving tent stakes; keep it in the tent bag)
Ground cloth (to go under the tent and keep it clean and dry)
Ground pads, mattresses and/or cots
Tarp (has many uses)
Lantern(s) (including fuel, mantles, funnel, batteries as necessary)
Folding chairs, stools, tables
Extension cords (for camps with electric hookups)
Ax, hatchet and/or shovel
Plan your meals before leaving home, and make a list of all food items you'll need using your menus as a guide.
Meats (hamburger, hot dogs, steaks, bacon, sausage, chicken, etc.)
Dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.)
Bread, buns, biscuits, crackers
Vegetables (potatoes, beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.)
Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, salad dressings, syrup, BBQ sauce, etc.)
Drinks (coffee, tea, sodas, Kool-aid, juice, etc.)
Staples (flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, pepper, herbs, spices, butter, cooking oil, etc.)
Snack foods, dessert ingredients
Cooking, Food Service and Cleanup
Camp stove, fuel
Charcoal, lighter fluid
Grill, cooking grate
Skillet, pots and pans
Spatula, tongs, serving fork and spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Plates, cups, bowls
Flatware (forks, spoons, knives)
Scouring pads, detergent
Paper towels, dish towels
Oven mitt, pot holder
Single-edge razor blade
Sting kill swabs
Cortisone (anti-itch) cream
Antihistamine such as Benadryl
Finally, you should consider what items will keep you comfortable and amused on your camping trip. If you're car camping and have the space, you can make your campsite luxurious with such items as hanging camp lights and a hammock. Books, a radio, playing cards, your journal, art supplies, board games and musical instruments all add to a cozy domestic camping style.
What extracurricular activities will be part of your camping trip? List what you'll need: camera and film, field guides, binoculars, fishing tackle, hunting gear, bikes, kayaks. If you're leaving the campsite during the day, add a day pack or fanny pack to your list.
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