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10 things every camper should have

Camping adventures are more enjoyable—and easier—if you know how to prepare.
  1. The right tent

    Your tent isn't just a place to sleep at night, it will also act as the place you store your gear and, in inclement weather, can function as your living room too.

    Follow the ‘Minus 2’ principal: take a tent size (in persons) and subtract two. For instance, a family of 4 might be more comfortable in a six-person tent, etc.

    You should also look for tents that are certified waterproof, feature simple setup and come with warranties.

  2. A good sleeping bag (and pad)

    There are three factors to consider when picking your sleeping bag: size, season and style. If you’re a comfort camper, you’ll probably want the rectangular style.

    If you’re taller than 5’11” or you just like extra space, look for a styles aimed at tall or big-and-tall campers. Most sleeping bags will show you the range of temperatures and conditions that each bag is generally designed to accommodate.

    Finally, think of your sleeping bag as the thing you sleep in but the pad as the thing you sleep on. The difference between sleeping on a comfortable pad and the ground is the difference between a good night's sleep and one where you wake up sore.

  3. Lots of lights

    If you're new to camping, it can be easy to underestimate how essential lights are when the sun starts to set. Your campfire is great but it can't do much as a light source outside a limited area. Each camper should plan to take at least a flashlight and headlamp.

    You should also explore your options for lanterns or hanging lights to make sure everyone can find their way around without stumbling in the dark.

  4. A plan for your food

    Create a grid of the meals you’ll need for the duration of your trip. Start jotting specific meals into the grid, slotting recipes that use the most perishable ingredients first, and those made up of hardier or shelf-stable ingredients later.

    The Coleman Get Outdoors app has a number of easy-to-make campsite recipes that will wow your fellow campers with a minimum of effort.

  5. Camping tools

    Camping can sometimes present challenges that require more than one tool. A good multitool (one with at least pliers, a hook remover, a knife, flathead and Phillips screwdrivers, a can/bottle opener, wire cutters and a file) can help solve a lot of problems you might encounter.

    Consider also taking along a separate knife and axe. The knives in multitools work in some scenarios but not where tougher work is concerned, while a good camp ax can split wood and comes in handy for both driving in and pulling out stakes.

    You'll also need utensils and dishes for eating and things like toilet paper.

  6. Proper clothing

    Focus on staying dry, staying warm (or cool) and staying comfortable. Pack items that have multiple uses. A light poncho can be used as a rain jacket, windbreaker, ground cloth or mosquito shield.

    Comfortable shoes are one of the most important things you’ll pack, especially if you plan to hike. Trash bags can keep clothes dry in wet or humid weather and can double as laundry bags or makeshift ponchos in a pinch.

    Bring layers: Temperatures can change a lot over the course of a day, you’ll be glad you have the option of peeling clothing off or piling it on.

  7. Food and drink storage

    A good solid cooler can act both to keep your cold items cold and keep animals and insects out of your food. They can even act as extra seats in a pinch. Throughout the duration of your trip, move coolers around your site to keep them out of the sun. Temperatures can be many degrees cooler in the shade.

    If you’re traveling with a big crew or staying more than a couple of nights, cooler space is likely to be at a premium. Additional coolers can save the day.

    And don't forget about insulated water bottles or mugs with lids They keep hot beverages hot, cold beverages cold and insects out of everything.

  8. Furniture

    Consider the number of campers you'll be bringing along and make sure each person has a comfortable place to sit. Eating meals, tying shoes, relaxing and sitting around the fire all become easier if you have a chair or stool.

  9. Ways to stay clean

    Trash bags, baby wipes and even a piece of solid cardboard (to act as a "porch" for your tent) can all come in handy. Camping adventures are often accompanied by dirt and sand, so you'll want to think about where you're headed and find simple ways to keep you, your fellow campers and your campsite clean.

    Remember, as a rule you should leave any campsite cleaner than you found it and many parks have a "carry it in, carry it out" policy. Having a plan to both allot for and store your trash is essential.

  10. A good strategy

    Because some campsites lack the conveniences of home, new campers can find themselves in a pickle if they haven't planned.

    • Do you know if your campsite is near where you will park your car or do you need to hike a bit?
    • Does your destination have an on-site or nearby store or do you need to bring things along?
    • Do you have the licenses or permits you need to fish or boat or swim?
    • Do you need to be concerned about insects or wildlife?
    • Do you have a plan in case it rains?

    Research as much as you can about your destination using the Coleman Get Outdoors app, the destination's official site or by chatting with officials at the park.

    Figure out what amenities are available and what aren't as well as open and close dates and times. Ask about potential safety issues and any other rules or regulations to be aware of. The more you've prepared, the smoother your trip will be.

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January 18, 2018 09:48 AM
Camp like a pro