I have been camping since I was five years old. My dad would drag (literally at first) me and my brother out into the woods to enjoy a weekend of camping, fishing and hiking. Little did I know then as I was throwing a fit to not leave the comforts of my warm bed, that I would become a campaholic.
Ok campaholic is not a “real” word but I added it to my Microsoft Word dictionary so it would not be mistaken as an error. If you ever used MS Word then you know what I am talking about. In any event my definition, for you purists out there, would be any person who is addicted to camping.
That describes me to a tee now. I love to go camping and although my schedule prohibits me from going each and every weekend, I try to get out about 3 times in the spring and 3 times again in the fall. I personally do not like camping in the summer. The summer is hot and when it’s hot you can’t enjoy the campfire which is one of the draws to camping in the first place.
Since I have been camping a lot I have also gotten a lot of my friends into it as well. The question I receive the most is, “what should I bring?” That is an open ended question, and you really could answer with anything. But what I wanted to touch on are some of the things that I consider essentials (the items beyond bringing your food of course).
Well it goes without saying that if you forget your tent you will be sleeping under the stars. Now I have done that myself, but let me be the first to tell you that it is only enjoyable up to the point when it starts to rain, then you just get wet. Don’t forget your tent. Also buy a tent that will fit the number of people you will be sleeping in it comfortably. Never go by what the instructions on the tent say. If it says it sleeps 4, it more than likely can only sleep 2. My rule of thumb is to add 2 to the number of people that will actually be using the tent. For example, if three people will be staying in the tent look for a tent that sleeps 5 or more. Usually the numbers come in even notation, i.e. sleeps 2, sleeps 4, sleeps 6 and so on.
You could bring blankets from home and they will work fine, but a decent sleeping bag wraps you up and helps use your own body heat to do the trick. They are specifically made for outdoor use and a good one is worth its weight in gold. Unless you will be camping in extreme cold temperatures you can pick up a good one at any Wal-Mart, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods or where ever camping supplies are sold in your area.
Back when I started camping with my dad there were two types of lanterns sold in stores, propane and gas (liquid). Today you have those same options but the battery powered ones are just as good, just as strong and last just as long. It really comes down to preference. I love using my Coleman propane lantern. It brings back memories of yester year and gives me that “I’m camping feeling”.
Some might say what about a stove? I do own a propane stove and it works great, but if you are camping in a campground, chances are they are supplying you with a fire ring and the grate to cook on. Just fire up some wood and do all the cooking you want. I prefer cooking over the open flame. I think the food tastes better, and let’s face it you aren’t cooking over a fire ring at your home. Of course the downfall is you really can not regulate the heat as much when cooking in this manner so you have to keep a close eye on whatever it is you are making. Mmmmm, nothing like the smell of bacon cooking over the open flame first thing in the morning!