Camping can be brilliant fun; roughing it in the wilderness, waking up with birdsong and not traffic noises, cooking over an open fire … But if you’re not a fan of insects, bathing in a river, sleeping on the ground or putting up tents, the whole getting-back-to-nature thing tends to get old very quickly. If the simple life really isn’t for you, but you don’t like to be left out when your outdoorsy friends head for the mountains, it’s a good idea to make sure you set out for the rough country as prepared-for-anything as it’s possible to be. To help you with this, I’ve had a bit of a think and put together a list of 7 must-have essentials for the reluctant camper.
1 An Air Mattress
Sleeping in a tent can be unpleasant enough; in summer, you will find yourself woken very early in sweltering, airless heat and in winter you’ll find it cold and draughty. In addition, sleeping on a thin strip of rolled up foam – the old-school answer to portable bedding – is bound to put you in a bad mood. Invest in a comfortable, cushioning air mattress, and try to get one that’s self-inflating.
2 Insect Repellent
No matter where you happen to be, insect repellent needs to be high on your list of camping essentials. Being eaten alive by small, whining bugs will inevitably have you feeling a little less than comfortable, and a good quality defensive product will help to keep you out of this situation. If you’re camping in the heat, avoid buying a lotion-based variation; these tend to ‘melt’ on your hot skin and can leave you feeling sticky.
3 Sun Block
If you’re not really an outdoorsy person, you might make the mistake of underestimating the importance of a good SPF cream. Sun burn is no fun even when you’re at home and have access to the local pharmacy and a variety of soothing products, but on a camping trip it is pretty much unbearable. Make sure you have sun block with you at all times, and apply it regularly throughout your day.
4 Over the Counter Pain Killers
In my experience, camping is often accompanied by drinking very low-grade wine out of inappropriately shaped plastic mugs. Trust me, a hang over in the wilderness is absolutely no fun at all. To alleviate a dreadful, alcohol-induced headache, or indeed one that has just crept up on you of its own accord, keep a box of basic pain meds in your back pack.
5 A (Very) Warm Jacket
Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that because you are camping in the middle of summer you won’t get cold. Often, the nights spent huddled around a campfire can get extremely chilly and when they do you will want to be prepared. An item of waterproof clothing is also a good thing to keep in your bag; you never know when unexpected showers might appear.
6 Tasty, Non-Perishable Treats
If you aren’t the world’s biggest camping fan, your attitude certainly won’t be improved in the great outdoors if you find there’s nothing to eat on your trip except berries and stale peanut butter sandwiches. Even if your friends have put in for a communal food supply, it is a good idea to bring along a few snacks for personal consumption. Don’t fill your backpack with bags of crisps: just include a couple of nibbles to buoy your mood if ‘roughing it’ starts to get you down.
7 Reading Material
It is important to be able to entertain yourself on a camping trip. While most of the time you will doubtless have friends to chat to and outdoorsy activities to keep you busy, you might also find yourself in a situation where everyone leaves the site to embark on a hike you don’t want to do, for example. At times like these, a good book is very useful – or even an interesting magazine for that matter.
Camping is not for everyone. If you’re not the greatest fan of the great outdoors, and you find yourself roped into an expedition into the wilderness, it’s a good idea to make sure you embark on your trip fully prepared. Hopefully, my list of 7 must-have essentials for the reluctant camper will help you to achieve this; do you have any interesting ideas to add to it?
Top Photo Credit: mckaysavage
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