Tim and I have always loved camping and despite owning a cottage for several years, we decided that our kids should get to experience tenting just as we did growing up. When we sold our cottage, we decided to upgrade our tent to one that would fit the whole family. Over the years, we have collected what I would consider to be a good assortment of gear and gadgets to help make tenting easier.
Camping Tricks and Tenting Tips:
1. Make lists. Several years ago, I took the time to create permanent camping lists that consisted of everything we need for a tenting trip. I then tried to divide it into “themes”. Here is a copy of my list.
2. Pack permanent camping tubs. If you plan to do a lot of camping this is worth its weight in gold. I used the “themes” from my list to create permanent camping tubs. We had enough gear that for the most part, the items can stay packed away inside the appropriate tub until our next adventure. I found this to be a huge benefit when it came to packing for our next trip. When you have a camper or a cottage, you basically leave everything you need inside and really only have to worry about packing food and clothes for each trip. Of course, with tenting there is no permanent storage place for all of your gear, so besides having to set up an entire camp each time you venture out, you also have to pack from scratch each time. This is a huge amount of work and can often be both overwhelming and exhausting. Making permanent tubs/lists allows you to spend less time thinking about what you need and worrying about what you may have missed.
3. Do a tub check. Before each trip, I do a quick check of each tub and its contents to be sure that everything I need is there and that consumables have been topped up. This only takes a few minutes and allows you to feel that you have everything you need.
4. Plan your menu. You want to make sure you take the time to plan out your camping menu in advance because there is nothing worse than miscalculating your food needs. If you over pack, it may mean waste, especially for those items that need to be kept cold and of course, you don’t want to run short of food either. Organizing the food for tenting is by far the hardest job. For every item on your menu, you need to ensure you have all of the ingredients for the recipe as well as items such as butter and oil for frying. Over the years, I have found that using the same menu (or close to it) makes for much easier planning.
5. Make a Grocery List. I generally use the same menu each time we go camping and thus, can also use the same grocery list for packing. I’ve also found that preparing some of the meals or portions of them ahead of time makes a huge difference. Here are a list of some of the items that I make/prepare ahead of time:
- Pasta Salad – I always make the pasta the day before we leave and add the dressing (oil/vinegar based) to it. I cut up all of the veggies for the salad and then stir them in on the morning of our departure. We always have pasta salad on the first night along with whatever meat I have placed on the menu.
- Cut up veggies. It is great to have fresh veggies cut up for snacks or to accompany a meal. This is also great if you are planning on having skewers. I always make sure everything is washed and chopped before we go.
- Hard Boiled Eggs – I will sometimes boil eggs and take them along. I have used boiled eggs as a healthy snack, lunch addition, for egg salad sandwiches, to make devilled eggs or as a salad ingredient.
- Baked Potatoes – I will often bake several potatoes in the oven or microwave prior to our trip and then put them in the fridge to chill. These cooked potatoes can then be used to whip up a fresh potato salad or chopped up for hashbrowns.
- Green onions. I often take a small container of chopped green onions that can be sprinkled on eggs or other dishes.
- Grated Cheddar Cheese. Depending on our menu, I will sometimes grate cheese at home and then pack it up for use on quesadillas or an omelette.
- Marinate meat and then freeze. Again depending on the menu, I will sometimes cut the meat for skewers and marinate it in a ziploc bag. I then place it in the freezer, so that the frozen meat will stay cold longer (and act as an ice pack in the cooler.)
- Freeze one or two gallons of water. I use large milk jugs for freezer packs. This needs to be done several days in advance to freeze properly. I fill the jugs about 3/4 full to allow for expansion and leave the cap off until the water freezes. These make excellent ice blocks that will last for up to 3 days at no cost to you.
6. Packing Clothes and Toiletries. Don’t over pack. Check the weather and pack accordingly. Often one or two sets of clothes is plenty, especially if you plan to spend your days at the beach. I find that the clothes I don’t wear often end up smelling a bit musty just from sitting in the tent and it seems silly to wash clothes that haven’t even been worn. Nights can get cold, so make sure to take warm jammies and/or sweats for layering up if need be.
Wouldn’t Leave Home Without It!
Planning a camping trip can be a lot of work, especially when you have never done it before or at least not for a very long time. Hopefully some of my experience can help make your next camping trip a little easier! Happy camping!
*Update: I had a few after thoughts:
1. Everything that is in the dish tub comes out and is used within the camp. The tub itself is about 2 gallons (I’m totally guessing). I use the actual “dish tub” as my “dish tub” for doing the dishes. So in fact it is not only used to storage and transfer the materials, but also for doing dishes.
2. Never pour your dish water out in your site as it will attract rodents. (I’ve learned this through experience.)
3. The “ditty bags” (I spelled that word wrong on my list) are mesh draw string bags that can serve several purposes. We use a large one for our dirty laundry, medium sized ones are great for putting wet dishes in and then hanging them on the clothesline to drip dry, and the small ones are great for putting your shower gear in and hanging on the shower head if there is no shelf.