When it comes to experiencing the great outdoors, what we regard as essential items will differ greatly. For some, roughing it with a two man tent, a small portable propane stove, a flashlight and a few cans of beans accompanied by some jerky is enough. Though for most of us, especially those with families, a reasonable degree of creature comfort is important.
A Camping We Will Go…
You may choose to go the basic route or prefer a trailer the size of a small apartment, complete with AC, a large screen TV with a satellite receiver and a large generator to keep the home comforts powered up. How you choose to set about kitting out your camping gear will depend on your circumstances, personal choice and budget. There is virtually no limit to the amount of luxury you can aspire for when camping. It depends on how much space you have for transport and what you have to spend.
The absolute basics will remain the same for everyone. Firstly you need shelter, this can take the form of a tent that costs less than $100 or a fully kitted trailer or RV. Even when it comes to tent camping, your options are great, some tents can be very comfortable and others will only provide enough space to sleep. This initial investment (your shelter) will be with you for some time, so choose wisely and remember that this basic comfort will play a big role in how you enjoy your camping experience.
You need to feed yourself and your family and there’s really no need to eat badly just because you’re far from home. Fresh food will make all the difference and for this, you will need refrigeration. A cooler box with ice can keep you supplied with basic cooling, but your ice won’t last very long and there’s always the water that collects when the ice melts which can destroy a lot of food products. A camping refrigerator is a very good basic piece of equipment. There are many 12V camping refrigerators available and some are not that expensive. You can use your car battery to keep your refrigerator running, but this is not such a great idea. You will wear your car battery down and you need to run the car’s engine regularly to charge the battery. A separate deep cycle battery will be a good idea, there are also quite a number of 12V camping items that are available, so this battery can be very useful.
To keep your battery charged, it’s a good idea to get at least a small generator. There are very small portable generators available that provide around 1000W of power. They are very easy to transport, in that they don’t take up much space and most are light enough to carry with one hand. A small portable generator doesn’t cost a lot – you can get a good quality 1000W generator for under $150. This will be a worthy investment as they can provide electricity for more than just charging batteries, you will be able to keep quite a few household appliances running, which will go a long way in improving your level of comfort.
Apart from fresh food, you must always keep a good supply of non-perishable food – canned and dried goods. You never know what might happen, and a good supply of food that won’t go bad can make all the difference. If you’re heading into an area where there is wildlife that may raid your campsite, canned goods won’t be harmed by animal scavenging. So even if a bear or some other animal raids your food supply, you’ll always be able to fall back on your canned goods.
Cooking equipment is something that needs to be considered. Barbecues are always a big favorite, but you’ll also need another form of heating. A propane stove is a basic need and there many options available to you in terms of size and price. Cooking utensils and pots can become quite bulky and use up packing space, so try to go for versatility choosing multi-purpose cookware wherever possible. A cast iron pot may be heavy, but it can be used on a stove, on the fire and serve as an oven when placed in the coals. Think practically and consider how many uses you can find for a single item.
First Aid Kit
A good medical kit is an absolute essential. You can buy a full kit from a camping or department store. These should contain at least some disinfectant, sterile gauzes, and bandages for treating wounds. They should also contain basic medication – painkillers, anti-inflammatory tablets, diarrhea medication, and antihistamines. Chances are, that you’ll be spending a lot of time around the fire and this makes burn treatments an essential medical supply. Dehydration medication and water purification tablets are also important. It’s a good idea to do some research into the area that you’ll be traveling to and find out if there’s a need for any medication that may be important to carry when in that area.
Inflatable Air Mattress
Sleeping comfortably will also make a big difference. Foam camping mattresses are very common, but not always too comfortable. Thicker mattresses take up a lot of space so they can be a hassle for some. Inflatable air mattresses are a wonderful addition to your camping gear. They are very compact and light when deflated but, once filled with air, provide a very comfortable bed. Getting a portable air compressor will make using these mattresses very convenient.
Tables & Chairs
This covers the most basic essentials and now we should move on to all the other stuff. Tables and chairs will be a great advantage. Here you have a very wide range of choices and you need to decide on what you want to pay and what level of comfort you require from your seating. A sturdy table will help a lot when cooking, a small table that shifts about and is unstable is not only a nuisance but can be become a safety hazard when you’ve got a stove with hot pots on top of them.
Then there’s appliances – lighting and other electrical items that greatly improve the level of comfort that we experience when camping. Many may not consider a generator as essential, but most campers know how valuable they can be. Portable generators range from small units that are easy to carry to quite large units that can provide enough power to run all your needs, including AC units, refrigerators, and other high-current devices. These large generators are portable in that they have wheels to move them about but can weigh in excess of 100 LBS. Choosing a generator for your camping needs is something that only you can decide on. It means calculating your electricity needs, your available space for transporting the generator and how much fuel you can transport. A large generator will use more fuel. Noise levels can be important and there many generators that are designed to run very quietly, You can stand next to the generator and still have a conversation. With prices ranging from not much more than $100 up to a few thousand dollars, it’s a good idea to take some time about deciding on the camping generator that you want before making your purchase.