It’s hard to beat campfires and s’mores and the night sky that come with camping. The way your tent lightens in the dawn and the hushed morning conversation greet you to start the day is sublime.
So long as you’re prepared, that is.
So cinch down your stuff sacks, pack the cooler to the rim with choice beverages, make sure you’ve replaced the camp chair that folded up like an origami swan last time you were camping and check out these 7 camping essentials:
Before you leave the house, check and make sure you have all the parts. A tent with no fly is merely glorified mosquito netting and does not keep the rain out. Make sure you bring a ground cloth to put under your tent and remember: Make sure no edges of your ground cloth are peeking out from under your tent or they will catch rain and put right under you. It’s a good idea to check the ground for pointy rocks and crazy topograpy before you set up. Your back will thank you in the morning.
2. Sleeping Bag & Pad
This consists of two items, but they go together like PB & J, so it gets one slot. Few things beat the snuggly warmth of a sleeping bag on crisp cool mornings. In fact, when Gauley Season arrives in early September, it usually brings perfect sleeping weather with it. Make sure your zippers are fully functional before you leave home, otherwise all you’ll have a plush cape and everyone knows capes make poor beds. Just ask the hobbits.
Hanging out around the campfire is fun so long as you have a comfy seat. After a 23 miles of white water or all-day mountain bike excursion, treat yourself to a nice folding chair to turn your campfire into an outdoor living room. Don’t like the flame channel? Tilt your head back 45 degrees to change to the sky channel. And, if all else fails, there’s always talking with the person in the chair six inches to your left or right.
4. Portable Light
You can never account for where people will decide to put their guitar case or tent guy lines or bear trap. A portable light source will help you get around after gazing into the flames of the fire for a few hours. If you’re hardcore, you can go native and use your night vision, but we’re willing to bet you’ll be in the minority and everyone else’s portable light sources will defeat you. A headlamp, flashlight or phosphorescent jelly fish should do the trick.
5. Comfortable Shoes
Think of these as slippers for lounging in your outdoor living room. The ideal choice is something that slips on and off easily but allows you to run when you hear the s’mores are ready. Flip flops, moccasins with a sturdy sole (rocks can be pointy) or a stylish pair of wingtip loafers should fit the bill. Black socks are optional.
6. Bug Deterrent
There are tons of great, natural solutions for keeping the bugs away. And some even work. You can also turn to DEET sprays, Avon Skin-so-soft , citronella candles or a beekeeper’s suit. For the hardcore survivalist, there is always the option of sitting directly in the path of the campfire smoke, but for those of you like to breathe, we don’t recommend it.
7. Relaxed Attitude
Forgot a lighter or matches? No worries, just check in with your fellow campers. Someone is bound to have a flame they’re willing to share. No tent stakes? Put heavy objects in the corners of your tent (TIP: if you use a cooler, make sure it doesn’t leak). Rolling with the surprises camping can throw your way makes it much easier to relax and enjoy the experience. Besides, now you’ll have some good stories next time you’re around the campfire.