For many people, camping is the ideal way to enjoy the great outdoors and escape the pressures of work, commuting, and daily life in general. In order to prepare for a camping trip a person must know what to expect and what items are needed for both comfort and safety. The right supplies can prevent a person from becoming ill due to the elements or from the food that he or she eats. The correct supplies can also help prevent or treat injuries until the proper care can be reached. On a more basic level, having the essentials will ensure that the camper has the comfortable and relaxing time that he or she deserves.
Tents are one of the most essential and basic items needed when camping. When a person is camping outdoors, he or she will need protection from rain, wind, and other elements. A tent provides this protection. A tent will also help protect campers from biting insects, such as mosquitoes. In addition, tents will also provide campers with a certain amount of privacy.
A good night's rest is critical for energy. This is why a mattress is so important when camping. A mattress will provide the necessary comfort to obtain a restful sleep. It is particularly important for campers who suffer from back problems and who are unable to sleep on the hard ground. Mattresses will also help to alleviate sore muscles. While it may not be practical to bring a normal mattress on a camping trip, alternatives do exist. Air mattresses and mattress pads are viable alternatives to the standard mattress used in beds in homes.
A sleeping bag serves a number of purposes during a camping trip. When sleeping in a sleeping bag, a person's body is not directly touching the ground. This keeps a majority of campers comfortable enough to sleep or relax. It also helps campers to retain their warmth during the cooler night temperatures or during the winter months. To choose the best sleeping bag a person must select one that has a suitable temperature rating for the camping area.
Another basic item that is crucial for camping is a cooler. Coolers help to keep food and other perishable items at a safe temperature. This will prevent any food-borne illnesses that could cut the trip short or worse send someone to the hospital. A cooler should be the appropriate size for the amount of items and for the number of days that the people will be camping.
Cooking equipment will allow campers to prepare their food outdoors. It is important to know what type of meals will be prepared before embarking on a camping trip. This will help the traveler know what type of cookware to bring and will make preparing the food easier. Camping cookware and equipment should be suitable for cooking outdoors and with a campfire.
Matches or Lighters
Having matches and/or lighters on hand during a camping trip is one of the top supplies needed when camping. The ability to create a safe fire is crucial during a trip. It is needed for warmth and for cooking. When bringing matches, they should be kept in a container that is waterproof.
Other than a fire, there will be no outdoor lighting at night when camping. The lights from the moon and stars are typically not bright enough for most people to move about comfortably in the dark. If it is foggy or overcast, it will seem even darker. A lantern will allow campers to see around them during the night hours and to move safely without risk of tripping and injury.
Another important item is water. Although there will be streams and rivers when camping, the water is not safe for drinking. Fresh bottled water will help prevent dehydration. It may also be used for cooking.
Food is necessary not only to prevent hunger, but to also keep one's energy up. The right choice of food will be items that are not highly perishable. Bringing some pre-made meals are useful as they will help reduce cook times. Healthy items are also ideal to provide the right kind of energy during active camping trips.
First Aid Kit
When outdoors and away from home, it is essential that people have the necessary items that will enable them to provide first aid. Camping trips often result in a number of minor injuries from scrapes and burns to sprains. Kits that are pre-filled with necessary items are available for purchase. A person may, however, choose to make their own first aid kit. Important items include, but are not limited to, bandages and dressings, topical antibiotic creams, soothing eye drops, aspirin, antihistamines, gloves, cotton swabs, scissors, tweezers, and a thermometer.
Here are more camping links to help you prepare for the great outdoors:
- How to Keep Food Cold While Camping – This is a USA Today article on coolers and how to use them to keep food safe for eating.
- Centers for Disease Control: Gather Emergency Supplies – On this web page, the Centers of Disease Control provides information on what supplies to gather for an emergency kit.
- Scottsdale, Arizona: Camping Tips – Campfire and camping safety advice are topics addressed on this web page.
- USDA Forest Service: Recreational Activities / Travel Advisories: Outdoor Safety – The Forest Service offers a comprehensive list of safety tips for outdoor activities.
- City of Rocky Mount Fire Department: Camping Tips – This brief web page has information about how to stay safe while camping.
- Tennessee Tech University: Camping Checklist – Readers will find a comprehensive list of items that they should bring with them on a camping trip.
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: Camping Checklist - Short Backpacking Trip In Moderate Weather (PDF) – Here is a list of essential things that people should bring with them when going camping.
- USDA: Food Safety While Hiking, Camping & Boating – The USDA has important food safety advice for campers and boaters in this article.
- Perishable Food Storage – This is an article found on the California State Parks website. It discusses the safe storage of food items when camping and what items require cold storage.
- Campfire Safety - How to Build a Campfire – This article reviews the correct way to safely build a campfire. It is in a numbered step-by-step format.
- Make a Camping Checklist (PDF) – This is a PDF list for camping. It is divided into four sections - shelter/sleeping, cooking/eating, clothing, and hygiene/cleaning.
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Camping Hints – This article gives tips on how to prepare and be safe while camping. It also includes reminders, such as keeping campfires small, and advice on how to be a "No Impact" camper.
- Winter Camping Equipment List (PDF) – A PDF document that lists the equipment needed for camping outdoors during the winter. Although the list was meant for college students participating in a camping trip, the equipment is necessary for anyone who is camping.
- Kids Health - Camping Basics – A website for children which explains the basic concepts of camping safety.
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln - Food Safety While Hiking, Camping, and Boating – Outdoor enthusiasts will find a comprehensive set of food safety tips on this web page.