The ultimate planning checklist for camping enthusiasts

Featured

Written by:

Camping is a popular activity for solo outdoorsmen and families alike, offering a chance to surround yourself with nature, and perhaps take a break from technology. It’s pretty different from what you normally experience in day-to-day life, but that doesn’t mean that camping has to be hard. On the contrary, a well thought out trip can be fairly stress free from arrival to departure, as long as you take the time to prepare beforehand. 

However, for those who haven’t been camping before (or it’s been a long time), knowing what to pack and what to leave behind can be a challenge. Bring too much and you’ll complain about the weight of your backpack; bring too little, and you’ll probably experience some discomfort depending on what you forgot.

To make sure you’re perfectly prepared, we’ve laid out an extensive camping checklist below to help the weekend warrior and extreme backpacker alike.

The Essentials

To start this list off, it only feels right to cover the essentials that all campers will need to bring with them. I do say “all campers” with a disclaimer, however. If you’re the type of person who likes to camp with nothing more than a sleeping bag or bivy sack, there will likely be some items on this list that you won’t be taking with you. For those of you who are less extreme ultralight backpackers, though, this following list should be just as applicable to you as it will be for the regular car camper.

Shelter

This one might be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who prefer to go without a shelter of any kind. No tent, no hammock, just a sleeping bag under the stars.

While it might sound romantic, I’m hesitant to suggest trying this method for a number of reasons. First, you have to remember that you’re not the only living creature out there, and bugs are notorious for getting up close and personal. In fact, a friend of mine once spent the night in his sleeping bag without a tent, and had a bug crawl into his ear while he slept. It caused him excruciating pain until he later had it surgically removed, so…forgive me if I’m a little paranoid! 

Second, you never know when a rain shower will pop up out of nowhere, especially if you’re in the mountains. Staying dry is definitely the more comfortable option, which is why I recommend adding a tent or hammock to your checklist. If you don’t care about weight as much, consider trying a canvas tent for added durability and insulation – otherwise, stick with either a 3 season or 4 season synthetic tent if you’re filling out your fall camping checklist.

Along with your shelter, here are some accessories you’ll want to make sure you have on your camping checklist:

Guylines, stakes, rain tarp, bug net, and underquilt.

Sleeping Accomodations

There are a few items you’ll want to consider bringing to make your sleeping arrangement more pleasant. We’ll include most of them in the checklist below, and talk about your sleeping bag in more detail before we get there.

Sleeping bags are an obvious addition to any camping trip, but we’re going to quickly walk through the differences between a rectangular sleeping bag and a mummy sleeping bag, and when you would use them. To start, a rectangular sleeping bag is shaped just like it sounds – the sides are the same width from head to toe, which provides extra room to stretch out as you sleep. As you might expect, this is the more comfortable option, and they can often be zipped to another rectangular bag to allow couples to sleep together. The downside is that all of the extra material makes them heavier and bulkier, which is not ideal for backpackers. More of a “summer camping essentials” sort of option for car campers only.

Mummy bags are what I traditionally use, since I like to move from one place to another while I camp. They’re lighter, and easier to pack away, but far more confining when you’re inside. This is intentional, because the tight walls help to trap your body heat next to you, allowing you to stay warm despite the reduction in material.

As a rule of thumb, mummy bags should always be used when backpacking, and rectangular sleeping bags can be used when car camping. In addition to your sleeping bag, here are a few other items to consider for your camping checklist:

Sleeping pad, cot, pillow, and sleeping bag liner

Shelter and sleeping arrangements are what I consider to be the bare minimum requirements for a night in the wild, assuming everything goes right. But in an emergency, there are a few items that you’ll want to make sure you have in your toolbelt, regardless of the style of camping that you’re taking part in. For a more thorough list and explanation for some of these items, check out this article on the 10 essentials.

Campsite Kitchen

Alright, we’ve made it through the essentials for both car campers and backpackers alike. Not all of the items listed above are necessary for each group (for example, a backpacker wouldn’t want to bring a cot with them!), but this at least gives you a starting point.

Now we’ll start talking about an area that is applicable to all campers, but will look dramatically different depending on who you talk to. Namely, the kitchen and all food related topics.

Many campgrounds have drinkable water already, but you should be prepared to find and treat your own (to find out how to purify water, check out this article). Additionally, I believe it goes without saying that you’ll need to bring all of your own food with you, as restaurants and grocery stores are hard to come by in the great outdoors. 

To find out what you should add to your camping checklist, here are some options for both car campers and backpackers to consider:

  • Pots and pans
  • Stove with fuel
  • Table
  • Camping chair
  • Cutting board
  • Cooler with ice
  • Pot scrubber
  • Dish soap
  • Large water jugs
  • Bins to store your kitchen supplies
  • Trash bag
  • Cooking/eating utensils
  • Plates/bowls
  • Sharp knife
  • Towel
  • Small container of fue
  • Igniter for the fuel

Extras

We’ve covered everything from shelter to food, which is what most people would consider to be the necessary items. While everything we’re about to share in the list below could be considered “optional,” I would suggest that tools designed to aid your navigational ability are essential. It’s easy to get complacent with this sort of thing if you’re just driving up to your campsite, plopping the tent down and calling it good. But what if you decide to go for a hike while you’re camping there? Having a map and compass on hand will be a big help.

Navigationally speaking, your phone will only get you so far. When in the wild, especially, it’s easy to find yourself wandering out of signal or running out of battery at the least optimal time. If all of your eggs are in the technological basket, you might find yourself lost and alone before the day is over. To keep this from happening, pick up an updated map of your surroundings and grab a compass to go with it – to learn how to use these things together, check out this article on how to use a compass.

But, back to the topic at hand, here’s a helpful list of items to consider adding to your pack. Most are going to be for car campers, but backpackers will find value in some of these things as well:

  • Compass
  • Map
  • Portable power bank
  • Notebook and pen
  • Games
  • Guidebooks
  • Speaker and music

Hygiene

No one wants to go an extended amount of time without taking care of their personal health and hygiene. But without all of the facilities that we’re used to (like a sink, toilet, and shower) camping can make it difficult for us to feel clean and refreshed. 

Depending on the campsite you’re staying at, you may have nothing to work with other than the nearby lake or stream. If you can tolerate the cold water and potential exposure, though, bring a bar of soap with you and give yourself a good scrub. For multiday camping trips, you’ll be glad you cleaned yourself off whenever possible, and so will your roommate when it’s time to crash in the tent for the night. 

Toothbrushes are easy enough to stuff in your backpack, as is toothpaste if you get the smaller, travel sized containers. Sure it adds weight, but some things are worth the extra couple of ounces, in my opinion. Toiletries for camping can sometimes feel like unnecessary “extras,” but if you’re staying outside for more than one night, you’ll regret not bringing anything.

And toilet paper… Fair warning, this paragraph might provide a little “too much” information, if you know what I mean. But let’s face it – we all go, and we all need a way to clean up after we go. Toilet paper is obviously great at achieving this purpose, but the shape of the roll can be bulky, so it’s not always ideal for packing away. If you want to use it, I suggest pulling it off the cardboard roll, and folding it as nicely as you can. Baby wipes can also get the job done, but because they’re wet, they tend to do a better job at smearing than absorbing. Should you decide to go this route, just know that you’ll probably go through quite a few during every session.

Alright, enough of this potty talk. Check out these camping toiletries that you may want to add to your list:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Bar soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Menstrual products
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription meds (if applicable)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Lip balm
  • Long-sleeved clothing

Layers

Season and location play a big role in what you decide to wear, but there are some precautions you should take no matter what the local climate is like. Layering your clothesis crucial when spending any significant time outside, as temperatures and weather can change at a moment’s notice. This can potentially leave you in an uncomfortable, if not dangerous, situation if you aren’t prepared.

There’s no need to pack your entire wardrobe, but I always like to bring an insulating layer and a waterproof layer with me wherever I go. That way, whether I’m faced with a cold, wet, or windy environment, I’m ready for anything nature throws at me.

At a basic level, here are a few layers you may want to add to your camping checklist:

  • Rain jacket
  • Backpack rain cover
  • Footwear suited for the terrain
  • Wicking underwear
  • Wicking T-shirts
  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Fast drying pants
  • Warm socks
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Lightweight fleece
  • Sleepwear

Personal Items

You’ll be carrying most of these items on you anyway, but it can’t hurt to have them laid out in a checklist format, right? Especially your campsite reservation confirmation, if applicable. That’s an easy one for me to forget from time to time (I’ve had to make a last second trip to Office Depot to print mine out before arriving at the campsite), so I like to put that one pretty high up on my checklist.

  • Phone
  • Credit card or cash
  • ID
  • Campsite reservation confirmation

Everything Else

Well, that covers all of the basic items, but there are literally dozens of other things that you can bring with you. Take a moment to scan our “extended checklist” below, whether for fun or if you’re looking for some ideas on other handy products that you can take with you on your next camping trip. So hold onto your hats … you might be scrolling for awhile to get through this one!

  • Flashlight
  • Hatchet
  • Bungee cords
  • Rope
  • Water filtration system
  • Small shovel
  • Emergency survival blanket
  • Two way radio
  • Satellite phone
  • Tent heater
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Outdoor rugs
  • Hammock Stand
  • Sit pads for insulation on chairs
  • Doormat
  • Small broom and dust pan
  • Air pump
  • Portable camp shower
  • Measuring cups
  • Coffee pot
  • Whistle
  • Instruments
  • Tissues
  • Watch
  • Can opener
  • Insect repellant
  • Dry bags
  • Swimsuit
  • Bandana
  • Sandals
  • Tent fan
  • Travel alarm
  • Fishing gear

Final Thoughts

And that just about wraps it up. I’m sure I missed some things, as there’s always that one extra thing you can grab on your way out the door, but I consider the items listed above to be the most important. Chances are you won’t need all of these things every time you go camping, but this should give you a head-start on preparations, so you aren’t scrambling out the door hoping you didn’t forget something.

For more suggestions on how to prepare for your next camping trip, check out this ultimate guide on how to go camping before setting off on your next adventure.

This article originally appeared on Untamed Space and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

Camping in Utah is the best. Here’s where to go

Camping in Utah is the best. Here’s where to go

Utah is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The vast amount of unpopulated land is home to sport lovers of all kinds. From hiking to climbing to off-roading, it truly is a playground for those who find joy in being outside.

This is especially the case when it comes to camping. From famous locations like Moab and Zion to some lesser known destinations, there’s an option for anyone who wants to escape into the wild. So let’s dive in and take a look at our nine favorite places to pitch a tent in Utah.

evenfh / iStock

Moab is one of my favorite places to visit in Utah. It’s remote and is home to some of the most incredible sandstone features you’ll find in the entire country. However, despite how far away it is from any other form of civilization, Moab is a surprisingly large and bustling oasis. 

This is most likely due to the presence of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and the eternally photogenic Dead Horse Point. And in addition to the endless amount of tourists, this town also attracts plenty of outdoor enthusiasts. 

The desert landscape, punctuated by sheer cliffs and deep canyons, is the perfect playground for campers, climbers, off road vehicles, cliff jumpers, hikers, mountain bikers, and so much more. If you enjoy the outdoors at all, you’ll love it in Moab.

But we’re here to talk about camping. Personally, I like the Kayenta Campground because of its close proximity to Dead Horse Point, as well as the entrance to the Canyonlands. 

But honestly, it’s hard to go wrong when choosing a campsite in this area. There are plenty of options, all with stunning vistas. Consider setting up along the banks of the Colorado River with a view of the famous Wall Street, named as such because of the dozens of climbing routes all lined up next to each other.

Or perhaps you’d rather spend the night at Devil’s Garden, the only campground inside of Arches National Park. If that’s more your cup up tea, make sure to book your reservation well in advance, as it does have a tendency to fill up fast!

Unsplash

Located in southern Utah, Lake Powell is a stunning body of water that resides within Glen Canyon. Perhaps ironically, Lake Powell isn’t actually a lake – it’s a reservoir that was created about 65 years ago to help regulate the water flowing to the drier states of Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and, of course, Utah. 

In recent times, it’s been a hot conversation topic among environmentalists who want to drain the “lake” due to disruption of the local flora and fauna, among other reasons. But even so, I think we can all agree that it’s a stunning place to set up camp for the night.

Lone Rock Beach is a stunning place to pitch your tent. It’s a popular location, due to being one of the few places on Lake Powell where you can almost drive straight to the water’s edge. From the parking lot, it’s a short walk to the beach, where you can set up camp. The water is beautiful, and you’ll have a hard time not being amazed by the incredible sandstone monolith that gives this beach its name.

Marine vehicles are welcome here, whether you have a motor boat or a kayak. Aside from allowing you to enjoy the water, Lone Rock Beach also offers the only designated ATV area in Glen Canyon. And it’s a close drive to other scenic hotspots, like Antelope Canyon across the border into Arizona.

Unsplash

Arguably the most famous place in Utah (perhaps second only to the Great Salt Lake), there was no way Zion National Park wasn’t going to make this list. Whether you’re an avid hiker or rock climber, I’m sure the call of Zion has tugged at your heart on more than one occasion. 

In fact, many of the 2,000 foot sandstone cliffs are home to world renowned, big wall climbing spots. And Angel’s Landing, a short 2.2 mile hike, can appear deceptively easy. Don’t let the distance fool you – this hike is considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to the loose rock and sheer cliffs. 

But if you decide to risk it and go all the way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most incredible views of the canyon and the Virgin River below. We like it so much that it made our pick for the best hike in this state!

There are three campgrounds in Zion for you to choose from: South, Watchman, and Lava Point. Both South and Watchman are inside of Zion Canyon, while Lava Point is about a one hour drive from the canyon, up on the Kolob Terrace Road. 

Personally, I prefer the locations within the canyon for a couple of reasons. First, the sights are absolutely incredible when you wake up in the morning, seeing the sun land on the red rock around you. Second, you’re pretty close to the town of Springdale, so civilization is close at hand if there’s anything you need.

Unsplash

Ever heard of a hoodoo? Yeah, I hadn’t either, until I discovered Bryce Canyon. In case you’re wondering what they are exactly, hoodoos are irregular columns of rock that shoot up toward the sky. And Bryce Canyon has the highest concentration of them found anywhere on earth.

The canyon isn’t really a canyonmas much as it is a series of amphitheaters dug out of the edge of the high plateau. Perhaps surprisingly, the elevation can get as high as 9,000 feet, making the hiking a bit more difficult than it otherwise would be. 

Thankfully, most of the famous sights (Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point) are all within a few miles of the parking lot. The hiking in the area is still worth doing, though, if you feel acclimated enough to give it a try.

There are two campground for you to choose from in this area: North and Sunset. Both are in close proximity to the visitor center and the Bryce amphitheater with the biggest difference between them being how you reserve your spot. Sunset accepts reservations on a 6 month rolling basis during peak season, while North is a first-come, first-served location.

Unsplash

A very long time ago, a tremendous geological upheaval created a rock dome that rose high above the land around it. Over the years, wind and water erosion chipped away at it until it became a beautiful jumble of buttes, pinnacles, canyons and mesas. This land feature is what we now refer to as the San Rafael Swell.

Some people might visit this site and think it’s nothing special. After all, Utah is full of sandstone features, making the Swell something … average. But while that’s absolutely true, I still believe that you’ll enjoy a trip here over many of the other hot spots that can be found across the state. 

And the reason for that is the fact that this location is still relatively undiscovered by the majority of tourists looking to snap a few pics of the stunning views. So if you’re looking to enjoy the traditional Utah panoramas without as many folks to block your view, you’ll love it here at the Swell.

This is a dispersed campground set on BLM land. As such, it’s a first-come, first-served setup with no reservations necessary. The good news is that you can just kind of go wherever you want to set up camp, but make sure you come prepared with lots of supplies. The desert is a scorcher during the summer days, and it can be hard to find shade, so having plenty of water is an absolute must. Consider bringing a tent fan along as well for some extra air circulation.

Unsplash

Remember how we talked about Lake Powell above? The Lone Rock Beach that I mentioned is on the far southern shore of the lake, so considering the massive size of this body of water, it only seemed fitting to talk about Bullfrog. Located more on the north side of Lake Powell, Bullfrog was named after a unique rock formation found on the western side of Mount Ellsworth.

Bullfrog is a popular place for folks to stop because of the marina and fishing opportunities found here. It’s pretty common to see houseboats floating down the river with a few kayaks popping up here and there. And while it’s certainly no Moab when it comes to hiking and other outdoor activities, there are plenty of trails through canyons and across other scenic landscapes.

The Bullfrog RV park and campground has 80 concrete padded sites for you to set up camp for the night. Reservations are required, and there’s a $30 fee to access the campground. If you’re looking for a free option where you can get away from the crowds, consider grabbing your tent and setting up on the BLM land alongside Hwy 276 or the Burr Trail.

Unsplash

Not all of Utah is a desert wonderland, as you might have come to expect from the locations listed above. There are miles and miles of vast wilderness in various parts of the state, sporting green forests, high mountain peaks, and stunning glacial lakes. High Uintas Wilderness is one such place.

The wilderness itself encompasses 456,705 acres of land in northeastern Utah. While many portions of this landscape definitely still have that desert vibe, it’s much more full of life than the southern reaches of the state. 

Here, you’ll find Utah’s highest mountain peaks, stunning blue lakes, countless hiking and horseback riding trails, and enough rock climbing and fishing opportunities to satisfy your outdoor cravings. All in all, if you enjoy nature to even the smallest degree, you’ll love it here.

There are a couple of established campgrounds that you can choose from, such as Trial Lake. However, I’m a fan of the primitive camping opportunities that abound along the edge of the dirt roads in the area. It’s a great way to get some privacy, which is probably why you came out to this part of the world to begin with.

Unsplash

Deriving its name from an Indian word, Wasatch National Forest refers to a location found low among the high mountains. The entire forest is quite large, taking up residence in 3 states (Utah, Wyoming and Idaho), especially now that it was combined with the Uinta Wilderness. 

There are many locations that can feel quite remote, and others that are a mere handful of miles from Salt Lake City, making it a very “urban” natural sanctuary. If you’re more of a city person who enjoys spending time in nature without getting too far removed from civilization, you’ll love it here.

There are quite a few campground close to the big city, but my personal favorite is Albion Basin in Alta. It often remains closed until July, due to the large amounts of snow that like to stick around late into the year. 

However, once the ground has cleared out, the view of the wildflowers and surrounding mountains are unbeatable. Don’t be surprised if you see a few moose or mountain goats roaming around next to the stream that cuts through the basin, or on the face of Devil’s Castle.

As always, I’m quite partial to dispersed camping if I have the opportunity to do so. The national forest is a great place to set up camping (almost) wherever you want to go, so you can escape the crowds and immerse yourself in nature. Remember not to make camp within a couple hundred feet of water sources, and avoid areas where the vegetation will limit your travel.

Unsplash

If you thought Wasatch National Forest was a city lover’s dream come true, just wait until you check out Antelope Island. A mere 42 miles from the town of Ogden, and just as close to Salt Lake city as the crow flies, you don’t have to drive far to escape the city lights. While not completely surrounded by water anymore, Antelope Island is a stunning peninsula that juts right out into the Great Salt Lake.

To get the most out of your time here, grab a bike or a horse to explore the vast expanse of land. And since the lake is so close by, who could resist a dip in the extremely salty water? 

Whether you want to swim, kayak, or just sit on the beach, there are many ways to enjoy the massive lake. Make sure you don’t forget to keep a camera on you at all times either, as it’s common to see free-ranging bison, mule deer, antelope, big horned sheep and many other desert animals.

There are a handful of campgrounds located on Antelope Island, but they can be a little spendy and there aren’t any water or electrical hookups. I recommend (again) going with the dispersed camping option. There are plenty of flat and comfortable stretches of land that would make for the perfect place to lay back to look at the stars before falling asleep.

Unsplash

If you’ve visited Utah or are fortunate enough to call it home, we want to hear what your favorite camping spots are! We recognize that this is a big state with an endless number of idyllic camping opportunities that we weren’t able to include in this article. 

This article originally appeared on Untamed Spaceand was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

johnnya123

R.M. Nunes/ istockphoto

Featured Image Credit: Mumemories / iStock.

AlertMe