January 8, 2013

Gone Campin’ (Part 2)

Okay, so now that I have laid out reasons to camp, I thought it might be helpful to talk about what you will need for an extended camping trip. Sometimes, we can just pack a sleeping bag and go out for a night, but if we are planning a real camping trip spanning several days, we must be responsible in what we bring. Safety first, and all that.

So, let’s start with shelter and sleeping. As I stated in Part 1 of this series, I am a proponent of tent camping; however, many people camp in campers or RVs. Since I do not camp that way, I will not spend too much time on these forms of shelters, but know that a surfeit of options are available for both campers and RVs.

I prefer the tent because it is easier and more compact. One thing you should know about tents is that you should bring an appropriate tent for the season. Tents come in one, two, three, and four season ratings. A four-season tent means that it is appropriate for any season (spring, summer, fall, and winter). A three-season tent usually means all but winter, a two-season would be good for dry, warm weather, and a one-season would be good for just one of the seasons and generally that season is summer.

Beyond the seasons, there are different types of tents and different sizes. There are tents that are lighter in weight for backpacking as well as tents that could house a family. Any outdoors store will have experts and information. Also, never discount the value of the internet for finding out reviews and information.

Once you have your tent (and, frankly, you’ll probably need several different types and sizes), you need a good sleeping bag. Again, lots of options are available here. You can purchase down bags, synthetic bags, mummy bags, and traditional rectangular bags. You want to consider the weather where you’ll be camping. If you’re going to camp in cooler temperatures, say 40 degrees and lower, consider a good 20 degree down or synthetic bag. And you definitely want a mummy bag. These use your body heat to keep you warm in even the coldest of temperatures.

The sleeping bag is perhaps the most important piece of equipment a good camper needs. Definitely do your research and invest in a good one. Just like with the tent, you will probably have a couple of different sleeping bags depending on where you will be camping.

You can buy camp pillows if you want, but just using a rolled up fleece or something can work just was well.

Beyond shelter and sleeping, you will need lights. I suggest a good headlamp because that frees your hands. Plus, the headlamp can provide even better light than a lantern or something like that.

You’ll also want to bring a lighter or matches especially if you are camping somewhere that allows fires. Not all campsites or campgrounds allow fires. Specifically desert and dry camping areas do not allow campfires. Make sure you know this before heading out.  You don’t want to spend money on wood that you can’t use. And to that end, buy wood local to where you are camping to ensure that you aren’t transporting any bugs or diseases across state lines.

Finally, you will need food and means to cook food. Usually a campfire will be enough, but if you can’t have fires, you’ll need a stove of some type. Many brands make good camp stoves. I suggest purchasing one that has a burner and a grill side. You’ll thank me.

There are also lightweight, backpacking stoves. These can sometimes work as well as larger camp stoves, but if you’re car camping, just bring a big camp stove.

As far as food goes, it helps to make a menu of sorts. I like to have bean burritos, veggie burgers, and tofurkey as well as salads, fruits, and granola. For meat eaters, hamburgers and brats are favorites amongst those I know. I also bring boiled eggs and chips and dip. It’s still important to have a balanced diet when camping, which is why I try to have a variety of the food groups.

This is a good start for camping gear. Check back for more suggestions.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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