Written by Sean Frank
When you go out into the wild, it’s just you and nature. There are few things that compare to that feeling of sleeping in a tent, listening to the gentle chirping of the crickets, or looking up at a starry night sky with no air pollution in sights. No internet, no cars, no craziness, and — if you go full-wild — no phone. Sometimes, a nice weekend out in the woods, the desert, or the canyon is the perfect medicine for clearing your head. Or hey, maybe you’re one of those tough customers who’s decided to spend their whole summer hiking the Appalachian Trail, and if so, we give you serious credit.
However, when you decide to go off on your wild, rugged getaway, what are some of the necessary essential items you should bring? You don’t need to worry about your wallet, since the Ridge will hold up in hard conditions, but once you’ve got your tent packed away, what else should you bring? Here are a couple items that any rugged camper has in their backpack, and you should, too.
There’s really no way to overstate just how thankful you’ll be if you bring a headlamp on your next camping trip. Sure, you’ll probably have a campfire — depending on where you’re going — but what about when you want to gather sticks? What about when you’re searching for stuff in the tent, or if you get to your destination after the sun goes down? What if you get lost?
Always, always bring a headlamp. They’re light, easy to carry, and usually don’t cost much. Don’t try subbing in a bulky regular flashlight either: it’s heavier, less portable, and since it’s not hanging from your head, much easier to lose. Don’t depend on your cell phone’s flashlight app, either. Remember, you’re camping, and there’s a good chance that your phone’s battery will die. Besides, using a headlamp will keep your hands free to be collecting sticks, nailing stakes, and so on.
People swear by their headlamps. Once again, they really aren’t expensive: for example, the Black Diamond Spot, which is highly recommended by Switchback Travel, retails for about $40.
Don’t just bring a pack of hotdogs and figure you’ll roast them on sticks. If you’re actually camping, rather than just having a bonfire, you’ll want to have a nice set of camping cookware. Most sets will include a couple pots, a frying pan, cups, and silverware. If you look specifically for camping cookware, you’ll find sets that are highly compactable — often storing inside each other, to save space — as well as being both light weight and durable, which is the key combination.
For a good deal, snag this camping cookware set by Bisgear.
Never doubt the handiness of a jetboil. They’re easy to find, easy to use, and will give you the gift of a small, lightweight portable stove anywhere you go, with some jetboils only weighing 12 ounces. With a jetboil, all you have to do is turn the valve, light it up, and you’re good to go.
Time, ease, and portability are major factors in why it’s good to have a jetboil on hand at all times. With a jetboil, you can boil up some hot water in minutes and have coffee ready by the time the morning campfire is just getting lit.
Okay, so realistically, if a bear, mountain lion, or a coyote were to wander up to your campsite and try to get into your food, the chances are that a little knife wouldn’t do too much. Still, it’s nice to have, just in case. Besides, self-defense isn’t the real reason that you should always bring a knife on every camping trip: rather, it’s because a knife will aide your journey in more ways than you can possibly count.
Need to cut a line? Good thing you have a knife in your pocket. Slicing open a fish to eat? There’s that knife. Furthermore, if you end up in some desperate survival scenario, that knife could be the difference between life and death.
When it comes to camping, always be prepared for whatever difficult situations might arise. The whole purpose of reconnecting with nature is to feel that basic humanity again, to break free from the chains of the contemporary world, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing some 21st century gear along with you, to make sure that your camping trip leaves you safe, happy, and satisfied.