Friday, 29 August 2014

How (not!!) to pack for a camping trip

Despite the title, this helpful post will also provide plenty of information on how to pack for camping in addition to how not to. 

This is for going camping for the sake of camping. It doesn't necessarily apply to events where there will be camping, as a means of lodging. 

Kink events, Highland Games & Faires, Renaissance Fairs, SCA type events, and anything else where garb, costuming, or other fancy getups are the norm get a pass on cute shoes and wardrobe insanity.

Now then...

First off,  clothing...       
Whether you're going camping for a weekend, a week, or a month or more, you never need to bring any more than: 
  • 1 pair of socks per day, plus 2 (max 16 - you can hand wash beyond that)
  • 1 pair of underwear per day, plus 2 (again, max 16 - hand wash)
  • 2 bras for those who need them
  • 2, (maybe 3 if it's going to be 2 or more weeks) pair of jeans/BDUs/other durable long pants
  • 2 pair of sweats
  • 2 sets of long underwear
  • 2-3 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 long sleeve shirts (a LS T-shirt and a flannel shirt are great for layering)
  • 2 pair of shorts (sturdy, comfortable ones with pockets, not "cute" ones!)
  • 1 sweatshirt or light jacket that can be worn under heavier jacket
  • 1 heavy jacket and/or cloak (cloaks are great! they double as blankets, pillows, carrying sacks, etc)
  • 1 pair swim trunks or swimsuit
  • 1 pair sturdy, waterproof/resistant boots, suitable for hiking. (combat boots are good all-purpose boots)
  • 1 pair sturdy sandals or mesh shoes
  • 1 pair sneakers (if you must)
If all your clothing you plan to bring (other than shoes and jackets) won't fit in one large duffel bag, you need to leave some at home. Small children who aren't fully toilet trained can (and should) get away with double the above amounts of everyday clothing.

 You should also bring:
  • A GOOD flashlight. (NO, the one on your phone doesn't count!!)
  • Spare batteries & at least one spare bulb. (most good flashlights have a space to store an extra bulb in the body)
  • insect repellent
  • SUNSCREEN!! (SPF 40 or above advised)
  • After sun care (plain old aloe or a product specially designed for it like this one)
  • a tarp and/or tent (even if someone else is bringing tents, bring a tarp!)
  • a sleeping bag rated for at LEAST 10 degrees colder than it is expected to get where you will be
  • enough of ALL your regular medications for the length of time you expect to be gone, plus 1 week's worth. 
  • A towel
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush, hair ties, unscented lotion, unscented or camping soap, etc)
  • A good hunting, diving, or survival knife. More than one is better. 
  • a knife sharpener - I particularly like the Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal
  • A para-tool. I prefer S.O.G. but any high end one is good.2 is better than one
  • Flint and magnesium fire starter. (strike with a steel knife blade)
This is by NO means a complete list, but those are a few basics that you should never go camping without, even if other people are bringing  "all the supplies".  Personally, I keep all of those things in my go-bag and vehicle at all times, and advise you to as well, but that's a different article.

You should absolutely, positively, never, ever, fucking EVER (femes, I'm looking at YOU here!) bring :
  • High heels of any sort. The only thing they are good for when camping is getting ruined and breaking your ankle (or worse!). 
  • "Cute outfits", unless they are sturdy, functional, and you don't care if they get trashed.
  • "Cute shoes", unless they are  one of the kinds of shoes mentioned in the "bring" list.
  • Jewellery or similar accessories (the stuff you always wear, even when you sleep and bathe is an exception) 
  • Perfume, cologne, aftershave (witch hazel works great if you must shave), pretty scented lotions or other body products. (Exceptions: lavender, cedar, rosemary, citronella, catnip, mint, & any other scents known to repel insects)
  • Hairspray, gel, or any other sticky, bug attracting hair products. (bees & wasps LOVE hairspray! Just sayin'.)
  • Your makeup kit. If you must bring something, keep it simple. If it won't all fit in a 1 quart ziplock bag, it's too much!
  • Any food or drink that requires a microwave. You won't have one and the bears won't let you use theirs.
  • Curling, crimping, or straightening irons. (REALLY!?? WTF were you thinking!?)
  • Hair dryers
  • ANY other kind of electricity using hair styling device. 
  • Your computer (dirt is bad for your computer, there's probably no cell/wifi signal, and you don't need it in the wilderness anyway!)

You are going out to the middle of nowhere to sleep in a tent or under the stars (this is camping, not RVing!). You will be tramping about outdoors for at least most, if not all of the time. There is dirt outside. LOTS of dirt!
There will most likely be a campfire, which produces smoke and soot.  Soot is a lot like dirt, only more persistent. 

This means that whatever clothing you put on at the beginning of the day is going to be dirty - probably even filthy - within a couple hours at the most. Just accept this. Breathe. Embrace the dirty. BE the dirty. Seriously. Just deal with it. If you can't handle getting dirty and wearing dirty clothes, stay home or do hotel vacations.

It's not a fashion show. Even if you're hoping to meet the man/woman of your dreams out there, s/he is camping too.  If they're not an idiot or an asshole, they won't be looking or expecting you to look like you're ready to hit the dance floor. If they're real, they'll appreciate that you share a love of the outdoors and are sensible. If they're phony, eeww! Best to weed them out early!

The people you're going camping with presumably already know what you look like sans beauty routine. If they don't, it's a great way to bond. Again, they're camping too. You'll all be dirty, bedraggled, fuzzy, frizzy, and such after the first day or so. It's not a big deal. 

The ones most likely to appreciate the froufrou smelly stuff out there are more interested in stinging, biting, and sucking your blood in a very non-consensual way. Also, your fellow campers will NOT appreciate you attracting bees, wasps, and other unpleasant things.

I may add to this post as more comes to me. Suggestions for additions welcome. 
I plan on posting more camping hints in future. Topic suggestions or requests also welcome and encouraged.

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