I love to camp! If I didn’t have bills to pay and the compulsion to shower every day or two, I’d be camping every day. Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration; there is something pretty darn nice about relaxing at home for a Netflix binge session on some weekends, but you get my point. One of my only frustrations with camping is packing. Followed closely by unpacking.
Packing really doesn’t need to be difficult. If you’re like me, you almost always need the same supplies on your camping trips, so to make my life a little easier, and to make packing (and unpacking) quicker, I’ve come up with my two standard packing lists: car camping and backpacking.
Packing Lists: Click on the image to open a printable/downloadable PDF.
- Pack with your plans in mind: Going car camping? Bring the air mattress. Backpacking? Better leave that 10-pound pile of plastic behind. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over years of camping by car is: If you have the space, bring it. Want to sleep with your fluffy, full-size down pillow? Go for it! You’re car camping and you don’t have to carry all that weight, so indulge and enjoy, because you can. But, when it comes to backpacking, everything you pack…goes on your back. So, if you don’t have the space, if you have the slightest doubt you won’t need it, if you can make do without it…DO NOT PACK IT.
- Keep a camping box (or two, depending on your family size) stocked with the supplies that you regularly take camping . Use a separate box or bin for backpacking supplies that will be stashed in your pack before you head out the door.
- Don’t forget to pack some entertainment, but keep it appropriate to your plans: Backpacking: a book, a cribbage board and deck of cards will do. Car camping: load up the kayaks, bikes, football and Frisbee and whatever else you can fit and you know you’ll use.
- Think through your meals and activities to pare down your packing list and make sure nothing is forgotten: Sure, I just told you to bring your kayak, bikes and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, but now stop and think: what will you realistically use? Have you ever actually used that ________? After mentally rehearsing what you plan to do and cook, are all the supplies you need packed or in your camping box? Is there anything that you can take out?
- Get it all ready, and lay it all out before you pack: Before you load up the car, or fill up your back pack. Lay out everything you need to pack, to get an idea of how you will make everything fit and keep it organized too. Keep in mind that packing a heavy backpack requires a little expertise, visit a sporting goods store for a backpack fitting and some great tips, or let me Google that for you.
Did I miss anything? What are your favorite packing tips?