So you’ve decided it’s time to go camping. Whether you’re heading into the woods for the first time or your thousandth time, via foot or on rubber tires gripping the dirt beneath, there’s a lot to think about and plan for before you head out beyond the realm of paved roads, grocery stores, and easy access to medical attention. Camping of any kind is an exciting way to escape everyday life and reconnect with nature, spend quality time with friends and family, and sleep under starry skies. Before heading out, it’s important to have a good plan in place not only for where you’re going, but what gear you’ll have with you. Today, we’ll focus on what standard equipment is necessary to set up a proper base camp on your trip.
Shelter & Warmth:
Some people might think that you simply set up a tent and crawl inside. The truth is that there are a few special components that work in synchrony to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep away from home. Whether you’re overlanding and living out of the vehicle at camp or backpacking to an even more remote campsite, having these items will absolutely make for a more enjoyable trip.
- Tent – whether you’re lucky enough to be in one of our SkyLux rooftop tent models, or are more comfortable in a ground tent, having shelter over your head for inclement weather is one of the most important things for any night spent outdoors.
- Ground Cover – An often forgotten part of a camp set-up, ground covers are laid under the tent to protect moisture from seeping up from the ground. Not only will this keep you from getting wet inside, it will also help extend the life of your tent by preventing sticks and rocks from poking up into the fabric.
- Sleeping Bag – There are a lot more options for sleeping bags than what you can find at your local Wal-Mart. Picking between a down or synthetic bag and ensuring the right temperature rating can be the difference between an enjoyable trip and one that ends in catastrophe.
- Sleeping Pad – The Torro SkyLux boasts a high-density foam mattress for comfort and support while sleeping, but ground tents will require some kind of additional padding underneath to keep the raw earth out of your back. Sleeping pads come to the rescue in both inflatable and foam models, both with their own pros and cons, ready to make backcountry sleeping a little more like at home.
Once you’ve arrived at camp and set-up your sleeping situation, our focus often turns to meal preparation. At home you’ve likely got access to a full kitchen with lots of pots and pans, but in the woods your options are probably far less. Regardless of whether you have a thorough galley set-up in your overland rig or are packing it all into your backpack, here are some necessities for ensuring a full stomach.
- Stove – Vehicle based cooking can be done from any variety of gas-burning stoves like Coleman’s famous 2-burner or the acclaimed Skottle. If you’re backpacking to a remote campsite, tiny collapsible white-gas stoves like MSR’s Pocket Rocket can fit in the palm of your hand and cook up a mean dinner.
- Cookware – Pots and pans can be necessary whether you’re at home or at camp. A variety of sizes of both can make cooking meals easier and faster. For vehicle-based cooking, stainless pan sets from Wal-Mart and Target can be great and cost effective. Fit in a multi-day backpack, companies like SnowPeak make brilliantly sized cook pots for getting the job done.
- Silverware & Dishes – Minimizing weight can be a huge priority whether you’re overlanding or backpacking. High quality plastic utensils, plates, and bowls are fantastic, easy to clean, and can last a long time in your cooking set.
- Water Containers – Carrying water into the backcountry can be a challenge, as it usually occupies a fair bit of space and is heavy. One gallon grocery store jugs with screw-on tops are a favorite for multi-day vehicle based trips, while some people go even further and buy multi-gallon water containers from companies like RotoPax. When backpacking, the most effective and lightweight options are Camelback type bladders and reusable Gatorade bottles.
- Water Filters – Staying alive means drinking water, and unfortunately we can’t always travel with all the water we’re going to consume. Having a water filter for clearing disease and particles out of river and lake water can make a huge difference in your health and hydration.
Other Camp Gear
- First Aid Kit – Being off the grid and away from accessible medical attention, it’s important to have a basic medical first aid kit in case something goes wrong. There are many available online, some far more advanced than others with items like tourniquets, that can add a necessary level of safety to your adventure.
- GPS Emergency Beacons – Many adventures in the backcountry lead us to places with little to no cell service. If something goes wrong, it’s immensely important to be able to send out a SOS message. Devices from companies like SPOT and Garmin allow 1- and 2-way communications with rescue services and personalized emergency contact lists in case the unimaginable happens.
- Camp Chairs – If you’ve got the room in your vehicle, having a collapsible chair is just about the best thing you can have with you at a campsite. After a day of adventure, sitting around the campfire on something more comfortable than a log can really make for a great end to the day. While backpacking, some people like to bring along collapsible tripod stools for the same reason, albeit in a more compact size.
- Shovel – Nobody wants to talk or think about it, but having a collapsible shovel with you is just as important as having toilet paper. When out in the woods or away from civilization in any capacity, it’s immensely important to live by the rules of Leave No Trace. The basic principal is to leave a campsite as if you were never there, clean, wild, and ready for the next adventurer. Part of that effort involves burying your toilet paper and poop to ensure that nearby water supplies are not contaminated by bacteria. Having a shovel is hugely helpful when the time comes… be it to dig yourself a hole or to dig yourself out of one if the time comes off-road.
- Hand Sanitizer – In the day and age of Covid-19, hand sanitizer is at the forefront of almost everyone’s mind, more so than ever before. Have a good supply of sanitizer around for cleaning your hands off when biodegradable soap and running water aren’t an option.
- Headlamps & Flashlights – You can have the brightest light bar in the world, but at night in your campsite you’ll want the quick-access convenience of a flashlight. Headlamps are a huge plus, making it even easier to work around a camp in the dark while having both hands free. Having a few handy in multiple places make navigating your campsite at night a painless experience.
So there you have it – an overview of the big ticket items necessary to make a campsite more comfortable. These things not only make your routine at camp easier, they’re also hugely helpful in convincing people less enthusiastic about camping to actually tag along.
In coming blogs we will more thoroughly explore some of these topics that require and deserve more in-depth overviews. We hope this list puts some ideas in your mind for how to build a well-rounded camp gear inventory, ready to go at a moment’s notice for your next adventure.
Have any questions? Ask us in the comments.
We’ll see you down the trail!
- Torro Offroad