I don’t know about you but one of my favorite parts about overnight camping trips is having the option to sleep under a blanket of stars. If you’ve spent any amount of time living in the city or suburbs, then you know how little sky you have around you. Living amongst civilization, your view of the sky is obstructed by buildings, cell phone towers, power lines, and yes, even that big old oak tree. This is one of the many reasons why camping is the perfect escape. Not only are you escaping from the daily stress associated with your job or personal life, but you’re escaping civilization as a whole.
In addition to serving as an escape from “life,” camping also teaches us the ever valuable lesson of “how to pack light.” By forcing you take only what you need, you are left with very little wiggle room. How do you know what’s an essential and what’s a luxury? Well obviously you’re going to need your backpack, tent, and plenty of food and water. What else is absolutely necessary? Here’s a list of 3 of most important items you should bring along on your next camping trip.
Sleeping Bag or Air Mattress:
Even if you find the flattest, most perfect patch of grass to set up camp for the night, you’re not going to have a good night’s sleep without any sort of padding. Every camping trip requires either a sleeping bag or air mattress. You’ll find many styles of sleeping bags on the market all at a variety of price points to suit your budget.
Aerobed’s Adventure Bed
The thing you need to keep in mind when shopping for a sleeping bag is where you plan on traveling and during what time of the year. Most retailers narrow down your sleeping bag search by climate and subsequent weight of the bag. You have cold weather sleeping bags, warm weather sleeping bags and 3-season sleeping bags. You also have super light sleeping bags, perfect for the extended camping trip, where you’re going to want to reduce the weight you carry on your back significantly. Whatever kind of sleeping bag you choose, splurge on a comfortable inflatable or foam pad that you place underneath the bag. They’re light weight, space efficient and you’ll be more comfortable.
Air mattresses are more ideal for a shorter trip or a weekend family camping trip. These aren’t going to be as compact as a sleeping bag and many of them require either a manual inflation or come with some kind of a manual hand pump. Either way the hassle involved might render it undesirable for any sort of extended camping trip. But if you and your family are getting together, throwing an air mattress in the tent or sleeping out, under the stars will surely provide for a more comfortable night’s sleep. AeroBed’s Adventure Bed is less than $60 and is a solid bet.
Flashlight or Lantern:
While this seems like a given, you’d be surprised at how many people leave without packing any sort of a flashlight. Flashlights and lanterns are good for setting up your camp site in the dark, starting a nighttime fire and a slew of other things. Since space is limited, try and find a flashlight that takes double A or triple A batteries, as these batteries take up less space and are easier to pack and you definitely need to pack extras. I happen to love my slim little Maglite, which takes 2 double A’s but some people might find its beam to be too narrow. It might be a good idea to purchase one of those flashlights which converts into a lantern, because items that can perform multiple functions are always welcome. Whatever you do, leave space for a flashlight!
If you’re going to learn one skill before you go camping, learn how to read a compass. Being able to navigate yourself out of a difficult situation is a very useful skill to have. If you have your cell phone with you, don’t automatically think that you’re golden. Cell phones die, lose service, get dropped off a cliff – come on, we’ve all seen those movies. If you don’t know how to read a compass, ask someone who knows how to read one or go into your local outdoor store and have a sales person show you. Take it for a practice run in your neighborhood. If you’ve never been lost in the wilderness you don’t want your first time to be without a compass!