The solo camper is a rare beast mainly because camping with friends under the stars is much more fun. With a little planning and a good camping list, you’re sure to remember everything you need to have a really wonderful time.
Underestimate the importance of camping tents at your peril. Camping is about late night singalongs around the fire and waking up at first light when the early riser in the group clangs around the campfire. Uncomfortable sleeping arrangements can really spoil your fun. Ensure that you have enough tents to comfortably accommodate everyone in your group. Tents are a worthwhile investment, but you can also borrow some or book one out from your local lending library.
Before you set off on your adventure, put the tent up at home so you can make sure you have all the components, that they are in good working order and you know how to put the tent up.
Take more bedding than you think you’ll need. Nights can be surprisingly cold and you won’t enjoy it if you can’t sleep comfortably.
Make a List, Check it Twice
We’ve all arrived at the campsite before, only to find that everyone bought gas but no one brought the stove. Elect an organizer who can make a master list and delegate who brings what. That way you’re not all hauling the same things to the campsite and you don’t forget essentials either.
I find that dividing meals up among the group helps to ensure really great food. It’s easier to cook one meal for the group that to accommodate each person needing to cook their own meals. If everyone cooks their own meals, you spend hours on this task and use too many resources.
Common camping items that are not thought of (or accidentally left behind on the kitchen bench) are drinking water, biodegradable soaps and pot scourers, portable chargers and air pumps. You can find a great master list here, but share it with the group so they can add their own items.
Research your Destination
When booking your trip, assume nothing! Ask the group for recommendations so you know the campsite you pick will be great. Check school holidays if you don’t want campsites filled with partying college kids. Research what facilities are available at the campsite so you know if there are toilets or showers and can pack accordingly. Contact the park office to find out if there are any supplies you may need like bug spray or bear spray. Ask if you need to hang your food to protect it from animals so you can pack a rope.
Ensure you have fresh water. If you can’t use the water at the campsite, bring a water filter or water purification tablets. Always pack a first aid kit with basic medications and the essentials like a high SPF sunscreen and bug spray.
Have a plan for garbage. Most parks ask you to carry out everything you bring in so bring garbage bags to safely remove all your waste. Avoid using disposable items to reduce your waste.
Check your Routes
The road trip on the way to a camping getaway doesn’t get nearly enough credit. The excitement is palpable and the scenery truly breathtaking. Do your due diligence when planning the best route. Make sure that you know where you can park and how far you have to walk, paddle or climb to your campsite. You don’t want to be arriving at dusk when you still have a three-hour hike into the woods. Be sure you have a detailed map and GPS connections that will help you to stay on track. Another obvious, but often forgotten, point is that you may need to fork out a fee at the camping ground. Not all sites will allow you to arrive and simply pitch a tent, so make sure you are aware of the investment and how many nights are included in that arrangement. You may need to provide ID so bring your driver’s license to the booking office.