I have officially been bitten by the camping bug, you guys. I’ve been resistant for camping for years…I went camping with friends a few times when I was growing up and it was just kind of “meh.”
But now. Now I’m a parent on a budget and the idea of unplugging in the middle of nowhere for a few days at a time sounds super appealing.
So we’re doing it this summer. We’re jumping in. I’m determined to become a master camper.
Please know this about me. When it comes to life, I like to be prepared. Which means I have a tendency to overpack whenever we leave home. 😁Since we’re kind of new to the camping scene, my first impulse is to pack anything and everything we could possibly need while living in a tent for a few days.
But part of the appeal of camping, to me at least, is simplifying life for a few days. And that means CHILLING OUT WITH ALL THE PLANNING AND PACKING. Grab a few things and hit the road. (Note to self: Don’t overthink it, Jen.)
I’m a little afraid of packing so much stuff for a weekend of camping that it’s completely overwhelming to put it all away when we get home. Which, in turn, would definitely deter me from wanting to camp again in the future.
SO I’m trying to haul as little as possible. I’m hoping to contain all of it – things like roasting sticks, rope, lanterns, kitchen supplies, etc. – in one tote. We’ll see how that goes. 😉
When we get back home, I’ll slide the tote on to a shelf in the basement, and not worry about it until the next time we head out.
I’ve done the research. I’ve made the lists. I’ve shortened and edited and modified the lists. And I think we are ready for this trip.
Physically, at least. Mentally, I’m not so sure. 😉
Here’s my list of the eight camping must haves for beginners.
1. First aid supplies.
We always have an emergency vehicle kit in our vehicle, but if you’re planning to camp and don’t have a kit in your car, make sure to pack a good first aid kit.
2. A good tent.
It’s an investment. Buy the best one you can afford. Most sites recommend buying the next size up from what you think you’ll need…if you’re a family of 4, buy a six person tent. Buy a tent that gives you room to grow.
After MUCH research, we ordered the Coleman Cimmaron 8 person tent for our family of four. Because honestly, we’ll want the extra space. Great size, great price, all the little features we were looking for in a tent. I’ll report on our thoughts after we try it for the first time. 🙂
Let’s not kid ourselves…there is no camping happening in this family without an air mattress.
Bedding is the one area I’m not willing to sacrifice comfort in, because if Mommy doesn’t sleep well, there will be no fun had by anyone. Blankets, sheets, pillows, air mattresses…I’m bring it all.
You don’t have to buy expensive air mattresses…I just purchased a cheapy one for starters. We’ll see how it holds up. The kids can just sleep on the floor in their sleeping bags on top of comforters.
(UPDATE: the kids are now using the cheapy one. After a few camping trips, we splurged on this bad boy for us grown-ups. It’s pretty amazing.)
Great for sitting on picnic tables, or hanging from the center of your tent at night. Lanterns just seem more practical to have around the camp than flashlights (though we’ll have a couple of those, also).
We have a smaller lantern with different levels of brightness…it’ll be the perfect size for trips to the bathroom, or for the kids to haul around camp.
5. Camping kettle
(Or something to boil water in). One word: coffee. But even if you’re not a coffee drinker, having a kettle (or pot) to boil water in is super handy.
Besides being handy for coffee or tea, the ability to boil water gives you so many easy food options. Ramen noodles, oatmeal, even omelettes. (OMELETTES. FOR REAL. God bless Pinterest and it’s camping meal ideas).
6. Pop up trash can
Could you just hang a trash bag somewhere around your camp? Of course. Or you could buy a mesh hamper from the Dollar Tree and have a trash can(-esque) receptacle to make trash collection a little more enjoyable. I like having my trash orderly. What can I say.
7. A Pie Iron
I love this little puppy. There are seriously a million recipes you can make with them. Sweet recipes, savory recipes breakfast, lunch, supper, dessert…whatever. It can do them all. (Like GRILLED NUTELLA AND MARSHMALLOW SANDWICHES, people. Get in my tummy.)
Super easy, super simple, pretty much the perfect little gadget for easy campfire cooking.
8. Wet wipes
The ultimate resource if you’re camping with kids. These are a must-have for our family because I have filthy children. They play super hard and somehow manage to constantly have dirty faces and hands and legs and ears.
And let’s be honest: dirt seems to be multiplied by 1000% when you’re camping. So these are a staple in our camping supplies.