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Top 5: Camping Must-Haves

Top 5: Camping Must-Haves

For most people in America, camping means driving out to a local state park to spend the night over a campfire.  This is a wonderful way to introduce friends, family and children to the great outdoors without dropping them in the middle of the woods like a Les Stroud show.  

For others camping is more of an adventure which often means backpacking into remote areas for extended stays. Whatever your style, I want to give you my top 5 must haves for camping, no matter your style.  No these are not items that come to mind instantly when you think of camping.  You all know you need a tent and a sleeping bag.  These are the items that are often overlooked but can mean the difference between a nice, enjoyable trip and a disaster.

1. Lighter It goes without saying but you would be surprised how many times I have left my lighter at home only to find myself driving to the local convenience store to get one.  I have gotten to the point where I leave one in my truck at all times.  I prefer the grill lighters as they allow you more maneuverability to light a fire without burning yourself. But if backpacking, I will bring a smaller lighter like a Bic to cut down on weight.

2. Permethrin So you are probably thinking: “What the heck is permethrin?”  Well if you have spent any time in the woods in the last decade you know that the ticks, mosquitos and chiggers populations have skyrocketed. And with this rise, comes risks for diseases like Lyme and West Nile. Scientists and doctors have even discovered that certain tick bites have begun to cause meat allergies.  I don’t know about you, but my life would be flipped upside down without meat!  So what does permethrin have to do with all this? Permethrin is an insect repellent that is used as a treatment for clothing.

Permethrin insect repellent does not harm fabrics and is odorless after dried. Use Permethrin on clothing by itself or with skin-applied repellents to create the ultimate protective, armor-like insect barrier.

Permethrin-treatments on clothing are non-toxic to humans. SO now that you know what it is, USE IT.  Treat all your clothing, shoes and tent.  I can vouch for how well it works.  I used it to treat all my clothing on a hiking trip last summer and while my friend pulled nearly 40 ticks off of himself, I removed none.  You can actually watch ticks try to cling to your clothing only to fall right off.

3. Headlamp Depending on your choice of campsite, light will more than likely be limited.  So it goes without saying that you will need a light source at some point.  In this situation I prefer a headlamp.  You simply put it around your head and you are ready to go.  There is no fumbling around to find a flashlight.  Another advantage is the light will always go the direction you look, and it frees up your hands to do things like clean a fish or construct that perfect s'more.

4. Sleeping Pad No one likes to sleep on the ground.  It’s hard, cold, and often very uneven.  Because of this it is in your best interest to pack a sleeping pad (or an air mattress depending on your definition of “roughing it”).  They provide the support you need, but also help insulate you from the cold ground.  Sleeping pads come in a wide array of sizes, shapes, and designs.  I will give you a brief overview of the main styles; both inflatable and roll up models.

If you are backpacking and weight is a concern, I would highly recommend an inflatable sleeping pad as they pack down into a compact package and weigh very little.  Many models come with insulation inside them to help seal out the cold.  While light and comfortable, inflatable pads tend to cost more than their foam roll up brothers.

They also run the risk of punctures (though most come with patch kits). Foam roll up sleeping pads are cheap and durable.  They can be found in a wide variety of materials, weights, sizes, and thicknesses to cater to your needs.  

They don’t pack down quite as well as the inflatable style. If you are a backpacker, you may want drop the coin on a nicer inflatable pad. As summer approaches and you are planning your next camping trip, keep these 5 items in mind.  

Hopefully they will help you enjoy a well-lit, bug free, comfortable night of sleep in the great outdoors!

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