It’s a fact, camping is good for our mental health. The connectedness to nature, simplicity and character-building nature of a stint of roughing it in the outdoors are now well documented to help us feel happier and more fulfilled in our day-to-day lives. But of course, looking after ourselves, other campers and importantly, the landscape itself, is super-important for us all to continue to benefit from camping. Before we hit on the specifics and our favourite bits of kit, there are a few things that every camper needs to know, and a handful of essentials that you really don’t want to leave home without. We’re talking the less-than-exciting but potentially life-saving stuff that should absolutely be on your packing list.
As an absolute minimum, consider this your pre-adventure checklist of things you need to think about before going camping:
Ok, we don’t want to sound like your mum here, but considering your own personal safety is paramount. Gen up on the stuff you need to know by checking out the numerous online resources, let someone know where you’re going if you’re planning on going alone, and have a plan in place for if the proverbial hits the fan!
Consider your impact on the environment you plan to camp in. If you want to have an open fire, why not consider an ‘almost wild camping’ site that has designated fire pits, drastically reducing the potential for environmental damage and wildfires. Know how and where to deal with your own waste (more on that later), and carry your rubbish out with you.
While we’re at it, think about your impact on other campers, people and wildlife that inhabit the same area. Don’t impact on others’ views or the peace and quiet of the area (sub woofers in nature aren’t cool, kids), and say ‘hi’ to your fellow tent-dwellers, we’re a community after all!
Especially if your camping trip is combined with a long hike or a decent walk to your campsite, your back will thank you for keeping your kit as minimalist as you can bear. That said, don’t skimp on the stuff that is going to keep you warm, dry and protected from the elements, nor on a first aid kit and other safety essentials you may need for any activities you have planned.
There’s nothing worse than a grumbling tummy when you’re halfway up a hill. Equally, sweaty cheese and warm beer are a total no-no if you’re trying to enjoy a relaxed weekend of van camping. Staying adequately fuelled on your adventures isn’t just about comfort, it’s really important to maintain your energy levels out on the hills or trails, especially in challenging weather conditions!
If you’re just out for a fastpacking one-nighter, forgoing a camping stove can save weight and an array of snacks and pre-prepared meal could be just the ticket. If it’s still warm, well, bonus. For the more discerning camper, van-lifers or those after a more luxurious campsite setup, a decent cooler for your charcuterie board and bottle of plonk might be more your style.
Here are a few of our favourite bits and tips for a good feed on the go, whether you’re a minimalist backpacker or a flashy camper:
Aiming for an FKT? Lightweight, energy-dense snacks that you can grab from your pack and eat on the go are the way forward. Outdoor Provisions make tasty AF nut butters that can be eaten as they (slurped straight from the fully compostable packet) or smothered on another edible vessel! They’re more convenient than trail mix and taste a damn sight better too.
A quality cooler that’ll see you through a whole weekend can be a god send. The YETI Tundra is a super rugged cooler with removable trays that’s the perfect size for a family mini-break (or just for a couple of six packs), or for a lighter, more portable option, check out the new Hopper Flip which is an excellent picnic addition. They’re not cheap, but they’re built to last!
For a quick and convenient meal solution, a pre-prepped dinner (or perhaps some overnight oats?) stashed in a rugged vacuum jar might be the game changer for you. Leave the stove at home, a quality storage container like Stanley’s Classic Legendary Jar will keep your meal hot or cold for up to seven hours, and with a spork attached to the side, you’ll never have to use a credit card/tent peg/toilet trowel to eat your soup ever again!