Camping season is upon us! Finally it is time to shake off the cold of winter, and the wet of spring, and get back out in nature. The spring has gotten off to a slow start weather wise here in the Midwest, but things are finally looking up.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, my wife and I are avid campers. We have both been camping for most of our lives, and have come up with quite a lot of tips and tricks to make camping a little more comfortable, and a lot more fun. In this post I am going to tell you about six things I think you should never go camping without.
Keep in mind that we have evolved our camping into camper based trips. When we were using smaller tents, and when I was backpacking in my youth, some of these items would have been impractical due to space and weight.
A Flashlight. This may seem like an obvious idea, but it is essential. A good flashlight will have enough power to light your way, will work reliably, and be large enough that it is easy to find for late-night bathroom runs. I am a fan of the 2-D Cell LED Maglite. They cost a bit more, but they meet all of my criteria for a great light.
An Umbrella. Many new campers will opt for the poncho or rain coat to protect them from rain. After years of experience I can tell you that I have always been more comfortable using an umbrella. I have a couple of inexpensive golf umbrellas that I keep handy. They provide enough coverage that I can even share them, and keep me far dryer than a raincoat or poncho
Waterproof boots that slip on easily. During a rainy day they do the job of keeping your feet dry. At night, or first thing in the morning, they are easy to slip on if you need to be out and about. Remember that even when there isn’t rain, there is likely to be dew.
A great chair. Over the years I have had many chairs at camp. Early on I used folding, webbed lawn chairs. Later I used bagged folding chairs. There were even some wooden, homemade chairs along the way. A good camp chair can be used at the campfire, as an extra place to sit at the picnic table, or as a place to sit and read a book. For my money, the director’s style chair is the best. They are sturdy, reliable, and – most importantly – comfortable.
A covered, thermal mug or cup. Whether your preference is an early morning cup of coffee, a mid-afternoon spot of tea, or something cold and refreshing, you will want to have a high quality, thermal cup or mug. Our current favorite is the 24 oz Tervis Tumbler. It is durable, easy to clean, and effective at keeping your beverage at the temperature you want it. They are expensive, and you will be tempted to buy a knock off. But, considering that you will use this multiple times on every day that you camp, spend the extra money and get quality. Also, Tervis tumblers have a lifetime replacement guarantee. Recently I dropped the tumbler I use for coffee every morning, and it cracked. A quick trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, and I was on my way with a free replacement.
A small rug. I learned this one from another Scout leader with whom I served in the 1990s. Back then we were tent camping, and always had a small rug next to his bed so that when he stood up for that first time in the morning, his feet had a warm, dry place. We use this same principle today in our camper. We aren’t worried about wetness, but having a warm place to step until you can put on your socks and shoes is a high comfort factor. Many tents today have a small vestibule outside the main tent to doff your footwear before entering. This can make the rug even more of a comfort factor, whether you choose to have it just inside the tent, or in the vestibule area.
Whether you are a novice camper, or an experienced outdoors person, you will want to make sure you have these six things to make your stay in nature more comfortable and fun.