Camping Like a Pro

By: Conroy Keight

Planning a camping trip? Make sure it's one you'll look back on with fond memories, and not recollections of cold beds and damp, dirty clothes. Even the most seasoned campers will always take great care to prepare before they pack. Planning ahead can be the difference between a safe and fun getaway, and a trip that you'd rather forget.

Treat every camping trip like it's your first, even if you've camped many times before. Your wilderness adventure can quickly turn to disastrous or even dangerous if you're not prepared for anything. To make your trip as safe and fun as possible, make a checklist of everything you need before you hit the trail. There are no corner stores in the forest, and no neighbors to provide those forgotten items.

Plan First, Pack Later

Allow time to plan, and avoid dashing and grabbing items at the last minute. Take the time to make a list of everything that you will need, and be sure to include those things that you may need in an emergency. Write them down, and cross the items off as you pack them. This is the only way to be sure that no necessity is overlooked.

Gimme Shelter

"Roughing It" doesn't mean giving up your creature comforts. With too little bedding and improper shelter, you're exposing yourself to an uncomfortable sleep and even possible danger. Be sure that the bedding will keep you dry and comfortable regardless of the weather, and don't forget to pack your pillow. Your tent must be secure, waterproof, and able to protect you from insects and forest creatures. Sharing your tent with a mosquito, raccoon or even a snake is just no fun.

Bring Your Bare Necessities

No one cares what you look like in the forest, so you don't need to bring hair gel or eyeliner. You will, however, need to bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and toilet paper. You might also want to bring soap, a hairbrush, shampoo, toothbrush and other personal care essentials. Make sure that everything, particularly towels and toilet paper, are packed in water-resistant bags.

Dressing For All Occasions

If you're going camping for five days, bring enough clothes for six. Unless you are camping beside a river and have a length of rope on hand, it won't be very easy to wash and dry your laundry. Packing extra is a lot easier. The very beauty of the outdoors is what makes it so messy, so be prepared to get wet, dusty and muddy. Also, the nights can get quite cool in the forest, even during the hottest months, and you'll want to be comfy and cozy. Pack warm socks, long pants and a few extra warm shirts, just in case.

Pack Your First Aid First

Smart campers assume that if anything can go wrong, it will. So, they pack accordingly. Follow this rule and pack up any medications and all first aid supplies that you may need at camp. Prescription medications, pain relief and vitamins are essentials. Those with allergies must bring an epi-pen or allergy relief medication. Remember to pack bandages, medicated ointment, a sharp outdoor knife and scissors. Everything should be packed into a waterproof bag and kept handy.


Anything that's cooked over an open campfire tastes like gourmet cooking. It's easy to cook at camp, but only if you're prepared. You'll want to pack a bowl, cutting board, knife and spoon for mixing and preparing foods, as well as paper (not plastic) plates, cups, silverware, aluminum foil, linens and biodegradable dish soap. If canned foods are on the menu, don't forget your can opener. Bring along a sturdy pot and an iron frying pan, a clean grill, heavy duty tongs and a metal spatula. Don't forget a sharp filet knife if you plan to do any fishing at camp. Bring a few garbage bags to clean up camp when you're done, and don't forget to pack along plenty of matches in waterproof containers.

When you take the time to pack carefully and bring along all of the essential camping gear, you'll have an outdoor adventure to remember, for all the right reasons.

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Author Conroy Keight loves writing for a variety of today's best web sites, on recreation and camping and parks and recreation zzz.
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