“Is that weird, taking my Louis Vuitton bag camping?” ~ Jessica Simpson
To be clear I am referring to car camping. I have yet to do an overnight backpacking trip by myself but I will. And when I do, I’ll blog about it.
- Be open minded about where you are going. You have everything you need with you so, does it really matter where you end up? As a kid I remember my mom throwing a fit because a campsite we found had bugs. Not a problem, we packed our shit back up and found another spot.
- Take the most comfortable air mattress or pad you have. You’re car camping. There is plenty of room for it. Just make sure it fits in your tent. Most recently I happened to take the very mattress I sleep on every night at home. It’s a Therm-a-rest Basecamp. Yes, I did originally buy it for camping but then I started sleeping on the floor.
- Plan your meals ahead of time. I usually only eat dinner so, all I have to plan are dinners. If you have to plan breakfast too, then do it. If you are going to be out for two nights, that’s two dinners and two breakfasts. Make it so and make it simple.
- Make sure you can eat these meals with a spoon, a fork, a spork, or your fingers. The need for knives and plates just makes things more complicated not to mention, washing dishes sucks.
- Take a cast iron skillet and bamboo or wooden spoon. Remember when I said keep it simple? Dumping all you ingredients into a cast iron skillet and cooking it over the open fire doesn’t get any simpler. This method is even better when you’re not alone. I discovered this in Arches when a fellow solo camper asked if he could have some of my food. I said, sure. He then busted out a spoon and dug into the same skillet I was eating out of. Perfect. On the most recent trip with my brother, the only thing he packed from his kitchen, was a fork. He knew what was up.
- If any of your meals call for it, take a grilling basket. This is guaranteed to yield the best steak you ever had. Just put your meat in the basked and hold it over the fire. That’s it. If you want to get real fancy, marinate or season your meat before you even leave the house. What about a side dish? Eff a side dish!
- Use a head lamp. It’s going to come in so handy. You don’t even know. For several years I have managed with a cheap, LED, head lamp from wall-mart. I guess they can get pretty fancy but I love the one I got so much I replaced it with the same model when I lost it. Then I found it, so now I have two.
- Double check the fire situation. Make sure fires are allowed and see if wood gathering is permitted. Some places allow fires but forbid the gathering of wood. This means you have to buy your firewood and this sucks! If fires aren’t allowed, find someplace else to camp. Fires are the cornerstone of camping.
- Bring lighter fluid. Yeah, I’m the primitive guy and I love trying to start fires by primitive means. But, lighter fluid can save you a bunch of time. Especially if you can’t gather wood. If tinder and kindling are hard to come by, you are going to have a hell of a time lighting those big pieces of wood you just paid $10 for.
If you are new to camping, keep in mind that the goal is to just get outside, see the stars, and spend some time in your natural environment. So, make the trip as comfortable as possible. You can worry about roughing it another time.
One thing I left out was coffee, but that’s probably an entire blog post on it’s own.