A bit of a different take on the "what's in your bag?" question. What kind of stuff do you take on a car-camping trip?
I grew up with a mother who can't go anywhere without her bedroom and kitchen - so she would pack most of their contents and bring them along. (All of the food we have for a specific meal, instead of just enough for the meal, etc.)
To give a full example of how bad it is, she has a 5-page checklist of stuff to bring. 12pt font, single spaced. 5 whole pages.
May your life be more than a series of chance events.
Last edited by ThriftyJoe; 12-10-2013 at 05:52 AM.
^ Plus...(adding items as I think of them)
- The full size axe
- Couple bottles of favorite whiskey/bourbon; enough to share, because ya never know when the Swedish bikini team is going to come hiking thru...
- Wool blankets picked at a surplus store. Great for cold nights, and even if it's too warm to have them on top of your sleeping bag, they make great ground covers on the floor of the tent.
- Hunting/backpacker magazines. Firestarter once read.
- Foam archery target. Easier than digging my arrows out of a stump or the ground, or having my arrow break on a hidden rock.
- Dutch Oven
Gotta have my Coleman model 220J lantern along for the ride! And my large sturdy fat man chair.
I did an impromtu camping trip with my son last weekend. Got home late Thursday night after an event, grabbed my tent bag, stove, "kitchen bag", 2 sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tooth brush, 2.5 gal water, coffee, a knife and my boots...placed everything in my truck before going to bed. My truck always has several items like a machete, small shovel, etc. stowed in it. Oh I also brought a pistol.
Next day after work we stopped at the grocery store for just a few food items and then drove to the site. Easy breezy!
My kitchen bag contains 2 Propane canisters, frying pan, 2 cups, 2 sets of utensils, 2 plates, spatula, French press, Kettle...that's it.
Everything gets packed up properly when we break camp so it's ready for next time. I swear, people watch me pack my tent bag and ask, "why don't you do that after you get home?"....
Well...since I have a 4 year old I havent been backpacking in a long while (I much like BPing!! It is much easier) so I invested a year ago in some car camping gear. Heres my list and we have gone 3x this year and it has been very enjoyable:
Eureka Canyon tent...13x12...big and heavy (12x12 tarp as my tent footprint)
folding chairs (Kijaro Dual Lock...soo comfortable! better support chair awesome)
Coleman Dual Fuel stove ( I would consider something easier such as a propane Camp Chef...they are that good!) Sure you can cook over the fire but it is tough and time consuming. I do love doing foil dinners we do one a trip and so on but for bacon, eggs, pancakes etc it is easier to do on the stove
GSI Pinnacle Cookset (it has plates, pots, pan, handle, cups and bowls all in one tight package!!!)
Camp/Kitchen Folding Table (I have a Lifetime tailgate table that has a wire fold out stove stand)
Weber Propane Grill...once again you can cook over the fire but some state parks dont have the grate over the fire and it is harder and much dirtier..I do steaks, grilled veggies, burgers, brats, dogs, and toast on it...all
Lantern Coleman dual fuel or propane...they put out some light...too much if you ask me!
Sleeping bags if it is rated for 20 it means 30 or 35 degrees so watch what you get oh and do a rectangle style...its about comfort
Cots or Air mattress your pcik
Water bottle/container (have a reliant 5 gallon and a 2.5...they have a spigot and work well)
I bring my jet boil that has a coffee press (pre-grind the coffee the night before and put in a snapware to keep fresh)
Kitchen cleaning stuff, have a terrible GSI kit I wouldnt not recommend! Make your own! The tools are too small, fragile, and they dont tend to have tongs.
have a crank eton radio
deck of cards
flask of whiskey
marshmallows for the little ones
cotton or ear plugs for sleeping
raincoat...trust me...when it hits it is worth it!
I have a pretty big list now. I started backpacking 30 years ago and read some of Colin Fletcher's books. Maybe in his book he had a checklist of things to take backpacking. I've seen lists from other people so I made my own and I've added to it ever since. I have everything on my list for any kind of trip from a weekend trip to visit my dad to a fishing trip or backpacking trip, car camping, whatever. The list is on my computer of course so before a trip I make a copy of the list and delete anything off of the list that I won't need. Then I print out the list and use it for my packing list. Low impact backpacking is pretty gear intensive and you don't want to be 2 days from the trailhead and find that you forgot something. Car camping is less critical because you are probably closer to civilization in case you forgot something or you have an emergency, and you have more room to bring things and don't have to worry much about weight.
I have categories in the list for stuff to go in the car, stuff to go in the backpack, clothing, food, personal gear, tools and grooming items.
For car camping here is a general list of what we typically bring:
tent, sleeping bags, ground cloth, sleeping bag pads
coleman propane stove and lantern, I now have a lightweight folding tripod to hang the lantern from which is real handy
box of kitchen stuff with utensils, a small pot or two, cups, seasoning, paper towels, etc.
food and drinks
personal gear such as knives, flashlights, camera
toilet paper and small shovel if we are away from official campgrounds, some people carry a little portable potty
Here is a little story or two-
before my first big backpacking trip I had read the books, bought the gear and carefully packed everything. I was going with my brother in law and his friend, both experienced backpackers. The first thing they did was to dump out my entire backpack and go through it. They took out lots of stuff that they said I wouldn't need, and it seems that they were right. Years later a coworker of mine wanted to organize a backpacking trip so he invited me since I was the only person he knew with experience. so I did the same thing to him- dumped out his pack and went through everything. He had heavy stuff in his pack such as extra shoes, wool shirt, etc. that I didn't think he needed so I made him leave it out. I didn't know his friend very well so didn't go through his pack and regretted it later because he was lagging behind us and frequently he pulled heavy stuff out of his pack that I would have made him leave behind. I pack light but bring things so I can be well prepared. I've been with other people that truly did pack light and got by with less stuff.
I have a six man tent that I can stand up in
Queen size air mattress
Sleeping bag and blankets
Cooler with more beer than food
Camp stove with griddle
A grill for the fire pit
Propane and battery operated lanterns
Saw/axe, sometimes I just bring the fire wood
Various toiletries, kitchen stuff (paper goods and what have you)
If I am also floating while camping, I will bring a couple of dry bags and other float type gear. I dont have a folding table, but most of the Corp of Engineer and other parks/campgrounds have tables at the camp sites, so I have not needed one too bad yet. I do want a mesh gazebo to place over the existing tables. Makes playing cards and what not more enjoyable when the skeeters are out in force. Just about everything I bring goes into a ginormous rubbermaid container for storage. When it is time to go camping, I just check my propane bottles and add food/beer/ice, etc and I am ready to go. Going this weekend. A buddy is taking his camper (I will sleep in my tent) and we are going to rough it while watching college football on the bigscreen- mounts on the outside of the camper. Gotta love the outdoors, man.
I am just now researching and working on putting together a go bag/hiking pack/kit for backpacking, etc, too.
Even if we car camp, we bring along our backpacks and separate day packs. I do admit, I like the larger folding chairs, cooler with cold beverages and a chainsaw and larger axe to keep the fire going all night. We still try and stay simple. We're heading back down to the FL Keys this next summer; a very different location than what I normally prefer up in the mountains. We plan to tent camp, but I may need to rig up a small airconditioner so I can get a little sleep. We'll also pack along the moutain bikes and a kayak or two...I'll be working on that checklist next spring
Shelter, clothing, hygiene, sleeping items.
Water & water treatment, nutrition/food & food prep.
Fire, navigation, lighting, and communication.
First aid and medical.
Tools and utility items for the above tasks and anything special for the purpose of the trip.
I have a couple of friends who tell me they want to go camping and how much they like it. Then they tell me they need to go camping in a cabin. Any mention of using a tent and I get nothing but "NO WAY".
Some people just don't want to go camping. If you're staying in a tent theres going to be a certain degree of "roughing it". Anybody who can't do this might want to go to a hotel or the cabin camp. But maybe, just maybe your Mom might like it. Good luck!
Our camping stuff is all in rubber totes. We grab the kitchen one, the sleeping one and the misc one plus the tent and we're good to go. My one luxury item is my big sleeping bag. (suitable for crawling into completely)
I probably wouldn't even go if I didn't have spoon melting eye popping coffee for the morning. And lots of it.
Smelling the fall leaves and watching the minks catch crawfish.
My inlaws went camping and forgot the coffee pot!
We have separate totes dedicated to gear and renewable supplies to speed up packing.
Working with lists has helped us make incremental changes to our system
to make camping vacations more trouble free.
I also don't like having a cluttered head, and working from lists frees my mind up to wander.
The lists are divided on to Excel spreadsheet checklists so it is easy to avoid overlooking something important.
One has various food menus for different numbers of days, breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus snacks, beverages, firewood, etc.
One is a to do list for the camper and vehicle (charge batteries, fill camper water, check oil & tires, etc).
One is a work (job) list - don't ask.
One is a to-do list for the house (freeze blue ice, mow/water lawn, feed fish and hamster, turn down water heater, arrange mail p/u etc).
We each have our own personal list with clothing suggestions, toiletries, medications, etc.
One is a fishing gear, kites, telescope, books, etc type list for activities.
One is a supply list, and we keep a pen and notepad around for restock items, and changes that need to be made to the lists.
I'm getting used to using Evernote now, so I figure I'll be using it somehow to keep things together for camping in the future.
We have two totes and a duffel bag just for car camping. The duffel has a queen sized air mattress, 12V pump, sheets, and a blanket. One tote is food/cooking related and has everything needed to prepare a meal except for the food items we take for that trip. The other tote is anything not food related including a hatchet, folding saw, Coleman lantern, and first aid kit. The system has been tweaked over many years so that we can be ready to head out for a spontaneous overnighter with little effort. If we're staying more than one night my STIHL saw is a wonderful luxury
Car camping.... at least 4-man tent for two people so you have room to keep stuff dry or out of sight. If you might camp alone, then choose a tent that you can set up by yourself. Other things include... Coleman stove, skillet and two pots (one small and one larger), sleeping bags and pads of your preference, wool blanket for each sleeping bag, pillows, several tarps, cheap rope and paracord, saw, axe, some fire wood if the pickins are slim, the usual knives, shovel, two coolers, rain jackets, comfortable hiking boots but also tennis shoes, 5-gallon water can, 5-gallon buckets for dishwashing, folding chairs, lights and extension cords if there is electricity, lanterns, electric lantern for tent, and possibly a small propane grill. I also try to choose a campsite within easy walking distance of the bathhouse if there is one. Check to see if the bathhouse/bathrooms are heated... kind of nice in the winter time. They are also a place to warm up.
I prefer a minimalist approach to anything I do in the woods. Carrying less with me makes packing and clean up both faster and easier, making outings more appealing (and more frequent) to me. As a result I find myself fishing, hunting small game, hiking / backpacking, camping, 4x4ing, or just simply target shooting out in the woods every damn weekend. My bush bag is permanently packed and ready to go with the exception of a sleeping bag which is removed to air out and preserve loft, and food for obvious reasons. They're added pre-trip and I am ready to rock.
My bag is my checklist. The contents of said bush bag are pretty freakin' little. In order of importance;
-Backpacking Tarp & Cordage
-Wool Sweater, Toque, & Socks
-Metal Water Bottle / Nesting Cup
-Knife (typically a Mora)
-Tenkara Fishing Pole & Flys (google Tenkara!!)
-And of course my sleeping bag and food stuff.
Pack typically weighs under 25lbs, and rarely exceeds 30lbs even after food and water (usually ammo is what pushes me over). I'm talking over night camping here. Real nice to carry.
That's IT. That is all I've ever needed. Anything else is fluff. I spend more time in the bush than anyone I know and I have spent years trimming down my pack to what I view as the necessities. This is what works for me. Anything that doesn't get used doesn't get brought (with the exception of my FAK). Worth noting that the Tenkara rod is brought mostly for fun, but it has provided me with quite a bit of free food . Sometimes I also bring my .308 or .22 with a couple mags if I think I'm going to be shooting something.
You'll notice that I view several items as more important than a fire kit or even the highly revered knife. Understand that I live in one of the worlds largest, wettest rain forests. The absolute, MOST important piece of gear you can bring in an environment like this that WILL keep you alive when something goes really wrong, is your rain coat and shelter. You break your leg and it's pissing rain out, getting dark? You're not going to be dicking around collecting firewood and sparking a firesteel into your cotton balls. You're going to be huddling up under a stump somewhere trying to stay dry and alive. Your knife and firesteel wont do shit for you in a real emergency; only in a mountain man survival fantasy scenario do these tools come into play. I also think a good torch is more important than a knife. Being able to navigate in the dark is more important to me than being able to do knifecraft and firecraft. I've hiked out of many nasty situations that technically should have turned into unexpected overnighters, thanks to my trusty headlamp and strong knowledge of the area.
A lot of you will disagree with what I've just said. A lot of you don't know what it's like to camp in an area where everything is perpetually sopping wet, and fire is nigh impossible without an axe and a lot of calories spent
Last edited by ThriftyJoe; 12-10-2013 at 06:05 AM.
During summer months I can get my pack down below 20lbs for overnighters, but honestly? I don't mind carry ~30lbs on extended trips. I like bringing big ol' steaks with me and other heavy feasts (I have a nice little flask that often finds its way into my pack). It is worth noting that I almost always do make fire because it is how I cook my food. Amongst my bushcrafty friends I'm known as the fire guy, because I'm always the one who manages to get it going during blizzards and other poor weather scenarios. Did a bowdrill fire on my local glacier last winter, that got me a few interesting looks.
That said, I just don't think fire is as important as most people seem to think for short term survival emergencies. When something really, really goes wrong? Chances are you wont even be capable of making a fire... so plan your "survival" without it!
The only expensive piece of gear I have is a down sleeping bag. But I get 70% off retail on most big name brands (North Face, etc) because of my line of work, so even that wasn't too expensive (retails for 550-600, I got it for under 200). Ultralight hiking is just another name for minimalism, if you ask me!
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