Saturday, November 15, 2008

Camping Checklist

  • Water: a big jug or two, plus smaller bottles. Double check that your campground has piped water. Some that used to, don't any more. Call the district ranger at the park or forest you're visiting.
  • Easy-cook or no-cook meals. Breakfast: Cold cereal isn't inviting on a crisp morning in the mountains. Oatmeal is a good choice; as is the eggs in a carton. Easy lunch: My husband likes cheese, salami or turkey slices, apple and crackers. Also, tortillas because they don't get squished and you can roll up just about anything in them. Dinner possibilities: On a recent trip we brought fixing for spaghetti. We chopped veggies and cooked ground turkey ahead of time. The turkey was recycled into the next night's tacos. We mixed left over spaghetti (with veg) into the next morning's eggs.
  • Trail snacks: trail mix, energy bars, fruit, chocolate, perhaps Gatorade
  • Campfire treats: marsh mellows, cocoa, etc
  • Tea bags, coffee
  • Cook pots
  • Utensils, including special ''kidware" such as toddler spoons and bibs, if needed
  • Plates, cups. We use items from a picnic backpack (basket). You could also bring biodegradable plates and cups.
  • Coleman stove or backpack stove
  • Camp lantern. Much more important if you have little kids, as we discovered.
  • Flashlights and/or headlamps. Check that the batteries are working; bring extras
  • Biodegradable soap like Dr. Bronner's
  • TP (don't count on it being there!)
  • Towels. We like the quick-dry camp towels you can get at outdoor stores
  • Baby/kid food, milk
  • Diapers, rash cream, lovie and other kid essentials
  • Potty seat for little ones--pit toilets are wide
  • For little ones, Kelty or other kid carrier
  • Extra blanket for little kids who struggle in a sleeping bag. Lay the blanket over the sleeping pad, unzip sleeping bag and use it as top blanket.
  • Campground toys, such as a small ball
  • Cooler and ice
  • Pocket knife
  • First aid kit
  • Medication
  • Sleeping bag: be sure to check campsite p.m. temperatures and know how low your bag can go.
  • Sleeping pads. We use Therm-a-Rest pads.
  • Pillows, if needed (or stuff your fleece in a sleeping bag case)
  • Trail maps, trail book, field guides
  • Hiking boots and hiking socks (good for longer hikes and general comfort). If you're carrying a kid, good shoes are important. However, if your critter is fully afoot and you're not going far, sneakers are fine.
  • Layered clothing: I use sun-screening hiking shirts, fleece, and a waterproof coat. I bring long johns or silk undergarments to cold campsites.
  • Trekking poles, if you're backpacking or hauling a kid
  • Binoculars
  • Camera. Make sure it's charged.
  • Tent(s). We use two backpacking tents because we already have them, but larger "family tents" are comfy for campgrounds
  • Firewood. There may not be any. You are not allowed to cut branches on public lands, and some places prohibit gathering anything off the ground. Other places you simply won't find felled materials.
  • Toiletries, including kid toothbrushes
  • Sunblock, lip block, bug juice. I also like to bring Technu, in case I brush up against poison oak; and After Bite, since mosquito bites can keep me awake at night.
  • Water filter, if you think you might have to pump from a stream, or don't want to boil water.
  • Folding chair(s), if space permits
  • CASH! Perhaps a check book if that's how you plan on paying campground fees.
  • Forest pass, if required. Southern California's four national forests require Adventure Passes. You don't need one if you leave your car in the campground, but if you drive to another trail, you will need one
  • Booze!
  • Perhaps GPS, if you have one
  • Solar shower bag is a nice add-on. If you're using all of this, er, stuff on the list your car will be crammed. (We packed a lot on the top of the Suburu.) Solar showers passively heat water you can use to keep your critter clean. And if you're sleeping next to him/her in the tent, you'll appreciate it. You can also use it to wash dishes. (We got ours at REI.)
  • My husband throws in lengths of rope, camp hammock, a tent repair kit, and other things that remain a mystery to me but, apparently, are manly necessities. Okay, as he has pointed out, I have made use of these extra items.
Again, this is a lot of gear. You don't need it all. Try a night of camping with the basics, then add on if you enjoy it and keep going.


  1. hi! i would love to be in touch! also - what indoor tree do you suggest for an office in los angeles? thank you!

  2. Yes, I think we have a mutual friend, julie wolfson. my understanding is native plants don't do well indoors. and generally not in pots either. So you'll have to stick with something conventional like a ficus. i like your site. let's chat.


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