It doesn’t matter if you’re heading out to your favorite lake for a fishing weekend, or hiking through the forest on the lookout for Bigfoot, going camping is the best way of getting back to nature. You experience life like you have never done before. Even seasoned campers still get that wow moment when you can sit staring at the stars and just listen to the world around you and be completely uninterrupted by the noise of cars, neighbours, bars – or anything else you get when living in a town or city. It’s a fantastic break away from the normal, and it makes you appreciate things more.

One of the best things when planning a camping trip is deciding where to go and who to go with. Maybe you’re heading out with your buddies, or it might be a family affair. Maybe you’re going it alone, or with a group of people you have just met. You can camp pretty much anywhere providing you have permission, making the options limitless. So decide on what you want to do first; are you going fishing or hunting? Because both sports require specific locations. Are you wanting to try out some water sports, rock climbing or caving while you’re away? If so, you need to choose a location that has legal and safe areas for you to try out these new activities. Your location is sorted if you’re going away just to see a certain part of the country, and if you’re road tripping, then you can just pick your camping spots along the way.

Once you have that all worked out, you need to think about what you need to take. Obviously specific trips like fishing, will require you to take the right gear and clothing. And when it comes to hunting, if you’re carrying your own gun, you need to double check the regulations for transporting weapons for each state you’re going to be passing through – some places are stricter than others. Or you can rent a gun when you get to your destination. However, no matter where you go, there are certain items that you should pack. Some items you might need, but if you do you’ll be incredibly grateful that you packed them.

 

Bug spray

Trust us – you’re going to need it. From the deserts of Arizona to the bayou of Louisiana, you will be attacked by bugs. Do some research before you go so that you can get the right spray, you should also look into getting some itch cream to take with you. It works on bugs and plants, so you’ll be covered on both fronts. Again, research the types of critters you are likely to encounter on your trip – you don’t want to be unprepared if it’s likely you could pick up ticks on your morning walk.

Sun screen

Even in the wet forests of Washington DC, sun screen is a must. It should be factored into your everyday routine anyway, so having it as part of your camping trip isn’t too much of an effort. If you’re going to be spending much time where you are very exposed, like out on a lake fishing, then make sure you take your sun screen with you and you apply it regularly. Anything near water or snow will require extra sun screen due to the reflecting on the UV rays.

Sweatshirt

No matter where you are, night get chilly. So make sure you have an athletic fit sweatshirt or two with you. If you’re in a colder climate then you’re going to want to take a few sweatshirts with you anyway. Just don’t just choose them because they look good – they also have to do the job.

Waterproofs

It’s going to rain, because that’s sods law, and you will still need to go out of your tent, so make sure you have waterproofs stashed away. It’s also a good idea to pack an extra trap to go under your tent before you pitch it – this helps to stop any leaks, adds an extra layer between you and the ground, and can help keep the bugs out.

Lounge pants

It’s okay to spend the day in Khakis and cargo pants, but at the end of a busy day everyone likes to relax in something comfortable. A pair of lounge pants are perfect for just that. Yours might resemble pyjamas more than joggers, or the other way around – but as long as you’re comfortable and warm, who cares what they look like? You’re in the middle of nowhere so who is going to judge?

Walking boots

These are a must. When you’re out in nature, you can’t even think that you can get around in a pair of loafers or even just sneakers. You need the proper shoes to deal with the different terrain. You can easily twist your ankle wearing the wrong footwear, which will pretty much ruin your trip. If you’re heading to an area where you might encounter ticks or even leeches, then get high rubber boots and boot covers to protect your legs.

Camel or canteen

And we’re not talking about the animal here. A camel is a backpack specifically designed to sit close to the spine and  carry water. A pipe leading over the shoulder allows you to drink and walk. It’s a modern and less awkward canteen and perfect for going on those long walks. If you’re not planning on going on a hike while on your trip, then make sure you have a couple of canteens handy. You’re always going to need water, and if you’re in a hot area, even short excursions will need hydration. If you have to find water for yourself don’t ever drink water from a static pond, drink where the animals do – as this is the cleanest water around. Head up the hill or mountain to find a spring. In the desert – your best hope for water is within a cactus. But if you’re going to go all Bear Grylls, it’s best that you take a course or two first.