Camping — an activity where we challenge ourselves to live temporarily in the wild — is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences we can have. However, few of us would find this experience even remotely pleasant without bringing along several essential items. Read along to discover what these items are and why they’re important!
Where to Sleep
Hopefully, one of the activities planned for your camping trip is a good night’s rest. To make sure you’re well rested for the following day of outdoor adventures, follow these three valuable tips:
1. Pick a Good Tent
To choose the appropriate tent for your camping excursion, there are three important factors to consider:
- Use: Think about what you’ll be using your tent for. Will you set it up a short distance from your car, or will you have to haul it for miles? A two-pound test, for instance, is fine for just a weekend excursion, but you may want something lighter if you have to carry it along on a long-distance hike.
- Weather: If you’re primarily going to use your tent during the summertime, ventilation should be a major consideration.
- Capacity: If multiple people are sleeping in the tent, keep in mind that each person will need at least two feet of elbow room.
2. Pick a Good Location
The spot where you pitch your tent should ideally be flat. An area with a slight slope is okay, too — just make sure to position the tent so that your head is uphill. Also, try to avoid rocky places and instead look for softer ground with pine needles or grass.
3. Pick a Bed
Most campers choose a sleeping pad by default and rarely ever consider another viable option — a cot. While cots are typically two to three pounds heavier than sleeping pads, they are designed to be exceptionally portable — and when folded up, they take up only slightly more room than a sleeping pad.
This sleeping arrangement is the closest thing to an actual bed that you can experience on a camping trip. It features tightly stretched fabric that makes it comfortable to lie down on, which is beneficial for those who suffer from back pain. If you don’t mind carrying a few extra pounds of weight, a cot can be an excellent choice, especially if you’re planning to stay in one location for many days.
What to Wear While Camping
When camping, few things are as essential to your comfort as what you wear. Read the following tips to learn how to dress comfortably on your outdoor adventure:
When camping — especially when hiking — your body often experiences a variety of temperatures in a single day based on the weather, the elevation and your level of activity. So if you want to remain comfortable, layering is essential. The three fundamental layers are:
- Base layer: This layer, also known as your underwear layer, serves to wick sweat from your skin.
- Middle layer: This insulating layer protects you from the cold weather by retaining your body heat.
- Outer layer: This layer, also known as the shell layer, protects you from the rain and wind.
Regardless of whether or not you wear all the layers at the start of your trip, we recommend that you always take all three along. You can adjust and take some off as you warm up throughout the day.
What you choose for each layer, of course, will depend on the weather. Here are some examples of clothing for different types of weather:
- Cold weather: Long underwear made of midweight polyester, a jacket that has adequate insulation, a pair of midweight fleece pants, breathable/waterproof pants and a rain jacket.
- Rainy weather or cooler temperatures: Long underwear made of lightweight polyester, a lightweight fleece jacket, synthetic hiking pants, pants with lots of vents and a lightweight and breathable/waterproof rain jacket.
- Hot weather: A short-sleeved synthetic t-shirt and polyester briefs, convertible hiking pants made of nylon and a lightweight wind jacket.
2. Waterproof Boots
A pair of high-quality waterproof boots are essential for your camping trip — whether you go hiking or not. There are three general categories of boots from which you can choose:
- Hiking shoes: Hiking shoes are available in low-cut options and often have flexible midsoles, which are ideal for day hiking.
- Day hiking boots: These boots, which are available in mid- to high-cut, are designed for shorter backpacking excursions with lighter loads. They tend to flex easily and don’t require much time to break in, but they are not as durable as backpacking boots.
- Backpacking boots: These boots are intended for multi-day trips when carrying heavy loads. Most models feature a high cut which provides excellent support. The midsoles tend to be stiffer, and the boots can be used both on and off the trail.
Whichever option you choose, make sure you get your boots well before your camping trip to give yourself some time to break in the pair. Otherwise, you could be hiking with blisters.
3. Hat and Headwear
When packing for a camping trip, people often decide against bringing hats because they assume that they’ll be under the shade of the trees for most of the time. However, we strongly recommend that you always carry a hat — it hardly weighs anything, and you’ll usually be happy that you did.
Keep the following two factors in mind when choosing a hat for your adventure:
- Coverage: Your hat should cover your face down to your nose.
- Ventilation: If it’s going to be hot, your hat should be of a material that allows for air flow. If the weather is going to be cold, on the other hand, bring a hat that will block air flow.
You may also want to bring a bandana. It’s versatile, lightweight and can be used to protect your neck, wipe sweat, carry items and more.
What to Eat
Unless you’re planning to sustain yourself on local berries, you’ll need to bring along some food items, but you can’t just take whatever happens to be in your fridge or pantry. Follow our recommendations below for a fun, healthy and convenient culinary camping experience:
1. Bring Non-Perishable Foods
The foods you bring should ideally be light and easily transportable. On the first day, you can bring cold items in a cooler, but after that, you’ll need to eat non-perishable foods. The USDA’s FoodKeeper App is a useful resource that provides information on which foods are shelf-stable and how long each food lasts.
2. Bring Food to Cook or Grill
We recommend the following foods for grilling:
- “Just Pitched Dinners”: By the end of the day, you may be exhausted from hiking, pitching your tent and the many other activities that camping often involves. So when it comes time to eat, you might appreciate a meal that requires nothing more than heating up. For example, pre-cooked Italian meatballs with pasta and a sauce made at home make for a great meal.
- Vegetables: As the camping diet often includes an overwhelming amount of meat, don’t forget to balance it out with some veggies.
- Beans: Consider making some meals with ingredients that won’t spoil immediately if the cooler doesn’t stay cold. Quesadillas are great examples and only require beans, salsa, cheese and tortillas to make.
- One-pot meals: If you don’t have a lot of pans — or don’t want to bring more than one — one-pot meals are a great option. A one-pot spring chicken recipe is an excellent example.
3. Bring a Pot to Cook In
When deciding on which pot to bring, keep these factors in mind:
- Size: Your cook set’s largest pot should be able to hold around one pint per traveler in your group.
- Number: How many pots you bring is mainly dependent on what type of cooking you’re planning to do and how many people are in your group. For instance, if you’re planning to make dehydrated foods for just two travelers, then one pot should do. More complicated meals and bigger groups will require more pans.
- Lids: Lids will reduce your cooking time, conserve your fuel and cut down on splatter.
- Pot grippers or lifters: Make sure that you can safely pick up the pots and pans. The majority of cook sets include at least one gripper — just don’t forget to bring it along!
4. Bring Lots of Water to Drink
While lakes and streams in remote areas may appear drinkable, they can still contain harmful parasites and bacteria. Always bring along bottled water to drink. There are other options, such as boiling the water or adding purification tablets, but many campers find these options less convenient.
Things to Do While Camping
If you’ve gone through the effort of planning a camping trip, you probably already have a few fun activities in mind. Below, we’ll suggest a few classic camping activities and share some tips on how to maximize your safety and enjoyment.
If you’re planning to hit up some hiking trails on your camping trip, the following tips may be useful:
- Pick a trail you can handle: Choose a path that’s slightly shorter than the distance you can comfortably walk on a paved road. To calculate how long the hike will take, figure that your pace will be approximately two miles per hour. You should also consider the elevation gain of the trail into account and add an extra hour to the estimated time for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
- Become familiar with your trail: Once you’ve decided on a path to take, study a map of the area and look over data and reports. Make a note of any places where you might make a wrong turn and pick out possible scenic spots for a lunch break, such as a mountaintop with a great view.
- Check a weather forecast: This is good advice for camping trips in general, but is especially critical if you’re planning to venture far from your campsite. If it’s going to rain, then it may be a better day to stay by the tent — and if it’s going to be extremely hot, you may want to consider going for a swim instead.
- Let someone else know where you’ll be: If some of your fellow campers will be staying behind at the campsite, let them know where you’re going. If everyone in your group will be joining you on the hike, then let someone back home know where you’ll be. Also, let them know when they should call for help if you haven’t returned.
- Don’t overdo it: When you first set out on the trail, you may feel the urge to go full speed, but it will be difficult to maintain this pace for long, and you’ll likely run out of energy before the day is over. Forcing yourself to walk slower may be awkward at the beginning, but you’ll thank yourself later.
- Don’t leave any trace: You want the trails to be just as beautiful for the hikers who come after you, so make sure to leave everything as you found it. Consider reading through the Leave No Trace Seven Principles and follow them during your hike.
2. Building a Campfire
There are few things as closely associated with camping as a cozy, crackling campfire. Here are some tips for building one successfully:
See If Campfires Are Permitted
Whether you’re staying in a campground or the backcountry, first make sure that your area permits fires. Even in developed campsites where fire rings, grills and fireplaces are available, fires may be prohibited during unusually dry periods of the year.
Build a Fire Ring
Fire rings serve to contain your fire. When choosing a site to build your circle, try to pick a spot without any low-hanging branches, which could easily ignite if conditions are dry. If you can’t find an open area, keep the fire small or forgo it altogether. If a fire ring already exists, use it. Make sure to clear any flammable materials away from the pit. Your fire’s base should ideally consist of mineral soil, gravel or sand.
Burning a successful fire requires three kinds of fuel:
- Tinder: This includes dry leaves, little twigs and needles.
- Kindling: Smaller sticks, usually with a diameter of less than one inch, are considered kindling.
- Firewood: This refers to any bigger piece of wood and is what keeps the fire going.
When staying at a campground, get your firewood only from the campground host or a store nearby. Many campgrounds don’t allow you to bring your own firewood, as it may introduce unwanted insects to the area. When in the backcountry, only gather downed wood located far from the campsite. Don’t cut living trees or break off the branches of standing trees, even if they’re dead.
Make the Campfire
Generally, there are two types of fires you can build:
- Cone: This type of campfire consists of a small amount of tinder surrounded by a small cone of kindling. As the fire becomes stronger and hotter, you can gradually add bigger logs.
- Log cabin: In this arrangement, two bigger firewood pieces are placed parallel to one another with some space left in between. Then, two smaller logs are placed on top perpendicular to the ones below, forming a square. Continue this pattern, using smaller pieces for each layer. Place lots of tinder inside, and at the top, add a layer of tinder and kindling.
Light Your Campfire
Using a lighter or match, light the tinder and then lightly blow at the fire’s base. Once it starts burning, push embers to the middle so they will burn completely.
Put out Your Fire
To extinguish your fire, pour water on it, stir the ashes and then apply more water. Repeat this for as long as needed. Don’t leave the campsite until you are sure that the fire and embers are completely out.
Only burn items that the fire can fully consume. Don’t burn cans, foil or plastic. If the fire has not completely consumed something, take the remains with you.
3. Star Gazing
Campsites are often located in remote areas with little light pollution, making them ideal spots for stargazing. To enjoy this activity to the fullest, we recommend:
- Finding some stargazing resources: Find a book, website or app to provide illustrations and tips on how to identify constellations and planets.
- Bringing a telescope or binoculars: A telescope is ideal for stargazing, but if you don’t have one — or just don’t want to bring it along — consider taking some binoculars, which will allow you to zoom in on particular areas.
If you come across an inviting swimming hole on a hot day, you may be inclined to take a refreshing dip. So, make sure to bring along a bathing suit in your backpack during the warmer months.
You should also take a few safety precautions when swimming in the great outdoors:
- Hold your nose: As mentioned above, streams and lakes often contain harmful organisms. One of these is the deadly Naegleria fowleri, a “brain-eating” amoeba that kills several Americans every year after making its way up their sinuses. To avoid this, hold your nose before jumping in.
- Look before you leap: While this phrase is typically used in the figurative sense, here we mean it literally. Before jumping, check for any submerged rocks, branches or anything else that could cause injury if you were to land on it.
How to Navigate in the Woods
Keep in mind that, if you don’t bring lighting gear on your camping trip, you’ll likely be spending a large chunk of your adventure in the dark. Even when staying in campgrounds with hookups, extension cords and lamps won’t necessarily be able to reach everywhere. For this reason, there are various battery-powered illumination products that we recommend you bring along:
1. Utility Lights
Panther Vision’s Utility Lights will do wonders in illuminating an outdoor space, and you’ll no longer wonder how to navigate in the woods. These innovative lights create spotlights for three products:
- Solar Puck: The Solar Puck features a rechargeable sunlight-powered battery and shines all night long.
- Safety Bug®: The Safety Bug features five ultra-bright flashing red LED lights that are visible up to a half mile away.
- Power Clip™: The power clip features an exceptionally strong magnet that will stick to any steel surface. It also includes an alligator clip that you can use to attach to non-steel surfaces.
If you’d like to take a fun night walk away and are trying to figure out how to see in the woods, we have the solution for you — Panther Vision’s FLATEYE™, a long-lasting, easy-to-grip flashlight. This flashlight features a cutting-edge design which accommodates two sets of batteries to provide between 13 and 40 hours of battery life, depending on the model. Our flashlights also provide sight lines that are far superior to their traditional counterparts and range from 310 to 2,100 lumens. They’re waterproof, so you won’t have to worry about ruining them if you get caught in an unexpected downpour. The FLATEYE™ is also equipped with Hyperfin™ cooling technology, meaning that the flashlight will never feel hot.
3. LED Lighted Hats
If you’d like to walk around at night hands-free, consider Panther Vision’s POWERCAP®, a comfortable cap equipped with the best LED lights for camping. And you don’t have to sacrifice fashion, as these caps are available in over 60 colors and styles. You can also use one to read a bedtime story to your kids!
4. BUTTON LAMP™
Looking for another lighting option that allows for hands-free movement? Consider adding a few BUTTON LAMP™ adhesive LEDs into your packed bag to use around your campsite. These tiny bulbs adhere to a number of surfaces, so whether you want to light up an area you’ll be using for bathroom purposes, or you want a compact night light for inside the tent, you’ll be able to see and maneuver around when the sun goes down.
Panther Vision products are all compatible with our innovative, high-performance lithium batteries, which have helped revolutionize the illumination industry. These batteries are ideal for extended camping trips where you need long-lasting, dependable batteries. They also work for watches, car remotes and many other devices.
Enjoy Panther Vision’s Innovative and Dependable Products
At Panther Vision, our mission is to provide uncommon solutions for common problems, which has allowed us to become a thriving company with over 25 patents to date. But our products aren’t just innovative — they also offer high performance and value. We believe so strongly in the dependability of our products that we offer a limited lifetime warranty.
If you have any questions about our products, contact us using our form and we’ll respond within 24 hours!