Camping Gear Guide

Posted by  Wednesday, October 31 2012 7:00 pm
expert

Camping out in nature doesn't always have to equate to roughing it. Whether you're a car camper or a backcountry minimalist, there are a variety of items you can camping gear TimAllardpurchase to make camping more relaxing. This guide will cover a range of items you can add to your camping gear to make trips more comfortable.

Tents & Sleeping
 
Having a restful sleep is important regardless if you're camping or not. There are varying sleeping pads and mats available to help you sleep comfortably in the outdoors. Mattress pads also elevate and insulate you from the ground, helping you stay warm on cold nights. Foam and inflatable mattresses come in several lengths and thicknesses, and in lightweight to extra thick mats. If using inflatable mattresses, consider purchasing a 12V or rechargeable air pump; they'll save you time when setting up your sleeping quarters.

For those with room to spare, a sleeping cot can be an excellent add-on. You can even get organizers to hang off the cot's side to keep personal items within reach. Don't forget a pillow. Camp pillows feature a soft casing (often flannel). Small models are available with the space-conscious camper in mind and can be compressed when packed.
 
Small accessories can help make your tent more comfortable, especially in rainy weather. Portable, battery operated lights and lanterns, small radios, and fans are some examples. Look for these accessories in models that can be hung from the tent's ceiling or suspended another way so you're not forced to hold them. A deck of cards, a small board game and a book are good to have too in case you get caught in a day-long downpour.
 
It's a good idea to bring some extra supplies for your tent, especially tent pegs. A mallet for driving in and removing stakes is another timesaving device. Finally, a spare piece of carpet, or an actual mat, is handy to leave outside your tent door to hold footwear and wipe muddy feet.

Food & Camp Cooking
 
I find everything tastes better outdoors, from strawberries to bologna sandwiches. Consider expanding your camp kitchen accessories and treating yourself to a little outdoor luxury. One of my priorities camping is a reliable coffee maker. Percolator models are the norm at many camps, but I've had success too with paper filters and a kettle. Drip style, portable models are also available. You can also indulge in a specialty coffee with a portable, espresso maker.
 
You may be surprised what's available to add a little class to camp drinking. For the romantic, there are shockproof wine glasses. A quality stainless steel, travel mug and/or thermos can be a real perk to keep drinks insulated and at the right temperature (either hot or cold) for several hours. Flasks are also useful for other adult beverages.
 
A variety of dishes are available for serving your meals. Utensils are items that can add some refinement to outdoor dining without cramming your pack. Make sure you pack the necessary utensils on a trip. It may be fun to pan-flip the odd flapjack over a bed of coals, showcasing your cooking talents to friends, but when your food supplies run short it's better to use a spatula and not risk ruining a meal. Also, pack a sharp, fillet knife if you plan on eating the occasional fish on your trip, but clean fish well away from your campsite.
 
There's a variety of collapsible tables on the market for eating and cooking on. These can come in handy if suffering from a sore back. They prevent you from needing to lean over to cook or eat your food.
 
The lines between outdoor and indoor cookwear can really become blurred for the individual with enough room to transport whatever they choose. Cast-iron gear comes in many models, such as: pans, Dutch ovens, griddles and pots. For pack-weight conscious campers, lightweight, stainless steel cook sets are available. In most cases, cast-iron is intended to be used over a fire, while stainless steel is for cooking over a camp stove as steel tarnishes if used over a wood-fire.
 
Don't forget an outdoors cookbook. They're filled with great meal ideas for the outdoors, that can be both entertaining to prepare and delicious to eat. Plan your meals before you leave, so you can pack the necessary spices and ingredients. Treat yourself to some specialty sauces in the backcountry and purchase small, carrying containers for them if tight on space.
 
Finally, you'll solicit a lot of attention from scavengers of all sizes, from ants to bears, when you bring food to a campsite. To discourage unwanted wildlife guests: keep your camp clean and properly hide your food.

Campfire Comfort

Sitting around a campfire during the evening is a classic camping image. Yet outdoors temperatures can quickly cool and sitting on a log can become uncomfortable after a while. So why not be prepared to enjoy an evening blaze?

The new camp chairs come in many configurations, including this camp rocking chair style.

BPS BigOutdoorsmanRocker
Camp chairs come in many configurations, including this camp rocking chair style.


Sturdy, portable chairs have replaced aluminum lawn chairs. The new models feature durable materials, stronger frames, and some even have headrests and drink holders. Better yet, many are collapsible, folding into their own carrying case for easy transport. To stay warm at a fire, a small fleece blanket can block out a night's damp chill.

Clothing
 
Without listing all the clothes to bring camping, some are worth repeating in this guide. Carrying a vest camping can help regulate your temperature, whether you're stationary or active. Convertible pants are also extremely useful, letting you easily switch from pants to shorts. A hat keeps you warm and provides protection from the sun. A bandana should accompany you on every trip. These simple squares can serve numerous functions from head protection to a washcloth. Sunglasses are also important to provide protection from UV rays. Round out your list with long and short sleeve shirts and pants, and carry clothes you can layer.

Personal Hygiene
 
For those willing, you can transport some washroom related luxuries to the outdoors. Freestanding shelters provide privacy for either toilet use or showering. A variety of portable toilets are on the market, from the most basic to fairly sophisticated models. Warm showers can also be had in the outdoors thanks to portable units. Some showers are large bags with hoses that hold water. The bag is hung and exposed to the sun which heats the water. Larger solar heating units will contain a stand and tubular shower curtain for privacy. A final option is a device that heats water using either single or double propane burners. Biodegradable hand soap and shampoo, along with other toiletries should also not be overlooked.

Small, Important Items
 
Up to this point I've discussed some add-ons that make camping more comfortable. Yet, the items above are less effective if you forget some important, but basic, supplies.
 
For skin protection, bring bug repellant and sunscreen. You should also carry a compass and a map of the area where you are camping. A first aid kit should also accompany you at all times. An adequate supply of water for each person, water treatment devices, and some emergency non-perishable food should also be packed.
 
Your camping gear should contain some basic tools. Multi-tools have a variety of useful accessories, including: scissors, blades, saw blades, pliers, screwdriver heads, and so on. A hatchet can be used for cutting fire wood or driving in tent pegs if you don't have a mallet. Extra rope always seems to get used when I camp - whether it's a temporary clothesline or holding a canoe to shore. Waterproof matches, a lighter and fire starters are good to bring as well. Finally, don't forget duct tape. If you can't carry a large roll, wrap some around another piece of gear, like a water bottle or pencil.
 
When camping, some of us enjoy a minimalist approach to backcountry exploration, while others prefer spending time with family in a safe, outdoor setting. Whatever your tendencies, there are always items you can bring to make your outdoor experience more comfortable. Just make sure you don't overlook your basic needs when adding a little luxury to your next outing.

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Last modified on Thursday, April 11 2013 1:56 pm
Tim Allard
expert

Tim Allard hails from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He's a full-time outdoor journalist and author and photographer of the multi-award winning book, "Ice Fishing - The Ultimate Guide" (2010), which is also available in French under the title, "Pêche sur glace". Tim regularly contributs to numerous North American print and online publications. For more information visit www.timallard.ca.

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