Hoofers Outing Club, c. 1945 [source]
Go figure that on the day Chicago was -20 I couldn't stop day dreaming about my next camping trip. I got some of that energy out on my winter hike, but it hasn't stopped me from planning.
We already have our first camping trip of the year set and we may even be joined by our friend and her 4 year old. Adding a toddler to the scene adds a few extras (I hear bubbles and glow sticks are the thing), but I'm also thinking about streamlining our packing and what new things we should be adding for the long term. So, here are things that are in my pack right now and things I hope to get in the future. All of these are not taking the toddler into account, because that is a whole 'nother barrel of monkeys. I'm just trying to plan for my permanent go-to camp needs.
Indiana Dunes State Park, "Tent Camping," (1929) Chicago Daily News [source]
First, let me break down some items I got last year that I find to be extremely useful in camping.
I got two compression bags and am so so pleased with them. (I got the ALPS Mountaineering XL size.) It squishes down our towels, sheets, pillows, and sleeping bag into tiny bundles that are easy to throw about and pack.
Tiny, but bright, light sources
I've had the same big lantern for years now. It is the same lantern I remember using after Hurricane Andrew went through Miami when I lived there. It is heavy and takes up so much space when packing; I wanted to find a better alternative. I was gifted two great lanterns. One is the battery powered CREE XLamp Camping LED Lantern and the candle-powered UCO Candle Lantern. I love both. They are compact and bright. I use the candle lantern on the picnic table and the electric lantern for walking around and in the tent.
Compact First Aid kit
This is a no brainer. I also recommend adding burn-gel to your first aid kit. I have the Adventure Medical Kit 2.0 size that has almost everything you need. I opted to get a ready-made kit because of the carrying case and that I just had to customize it with small items (like burn gel). There are plenty of tutorials online on how to make your own, should you wish to go that route. The point is to make it small enough to pack and well organized enough to find what you need when scared/stressed/bitten/bloody.
Reusable cups and mugs
Coffee is a definite needed item when we camp. We used to bring mugs from home, but I was always afraid they would break. I ended-up getting enamel mugs and really enjoy using them. The coffee stays hot, they are easy to clean, and they won't break. The same goes with drinking cups. I was taking plastic disposable ones, but eh...I like nature, so why do that to the earth? I got Klean Kanteen's 16oz pint 4-pack to use for both water and beer. They are durable and nice to drink out of. I still havne't made the switch to enamel plates, but I hope to soon.
Indiana Dunes State Park, "Car Tent Camping," c. 1930 [source]
Now, let's talk about the things I want to get for camping this year!
I'd love your guys input on any of these items. If you already own them or if you have a better suggestion, please let me know.
Kick-ass double sleeping bag
This is all to do with streamlining. Right now we use a sleeping bag, opened up, as floor padding and then add our sheets, pillows, and blankets. I'm eyeing a Queen Size Flannel Lined Sleeping Bag as a nice way to roll all those things into one package. No need to pack sheets and a blanket, which takes up so much space and get kicked off and moved around.
Alternative cooking source
I was gifted an alcohol "stove" burner, so I was thinking of getting a folding pot stand for it. I'm hoping it will be a faster way to boil water for coffee in the morning and a good alternative if we can't get a fire started. Eventually, (see: a few years) we will get ourselves a Primus folding stove. My FIL has one and I'm hoping we will be able to "take it off his hands" soon.
Better Water System
Our drinking solution has been to freeze gallons of water and use them as a cold source in our cooler. This sounds like a great idea, but it has some issues. Firstly, the gallons leak. If the seams don't bust open due to the water freezing, the condensation will drive you mad. Having that water in the cooler also takes away space from food you could be storing in there with much slimmer ice solutions. I recently saw this "pack tap" that looks like a good solution. It uses the bag system that you find in boxed wine and it folds up when not in use. All the camp sites I've been to have potable water available for free, so you just bring this pack filled-up, hang it and use the tap to fill your glass, then refill when empty. I was also thinking it would be good to have a second one around for beer or wine.
On the water note, I also would like a better water transportation system for washing up. There are plenty of collapsible/fold-able water buckets around, but I'm liking this one because the price is good and it seems pretty sturdy. Does anyone have a better recommendation for a fold-able water bucket?
This is so not needed, but I kind of want to get the UCO three candle lantern. I think it will make the camp look nice and provide some lovely light. They also have citronella candles that fit into the lantern, which would be nice.
Spoiled while sleeping
I was lamenting to a friend of mine how the sleeping pads we have really aren't enough for us. We both sleep on our sides and I just wake-up with a numb hip in the morning. She suggested we get a battery powered air mattress. At first I thought, "no way!" but she said that they had a thin one that was just perfect for about $80. So, I'm slightly considering this option so that we can both get a comfy night sleep. Oddly enough, the model air mattress I'm looking at will take up less space all rolled-up than our sleeping pads take when they are folded up. That's a win for minimalizing packing.
Whew, so, those are what I hope to be packing up in my car for camping this year, but I'm not totally convinced yet on my possible purchases. Is there anything you love for your camping trips?