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Claire Tierney is a Staff Writer for The Hudsucker, and in her spare time she may be found hiking around Washington, bonding with her cat, or enjoying a fat sandwich. Claire is currently working jobs that utilize her impeccable customer service skills while she works towards achieving her dreams, whatever those may be.

How to Pack Efficiently for Your First Camping Trip


Image Credit: Kotenko Oleksandr/Shutterstock

It’s that time of year. It is sunny and the great outdoors seem so accessible. If you feel nature calling your name but you’re not sure what’s worth bringing, fear no more. I am an avid camper and I am an expert in the spatial challenge that is packing. The only thing worse than over-packing is under-packing. With each item you add to your pack, consider the journey you’ll undergo before reaching your campsite. Ask yourself if this item is worth its weight. And ask yourself how likely it is, and how bad off you would be if you found yourself in need of this item.

As we head into summer and camping season is in high gear, here are some tips for how to pack efficiently on your first camping trip and enjoy the great outdoors.

Lets start with clothing. It’s all about layers, as it may be unexpectedly hot or cold. So I would say extra layers are worth the weight. Clothing also has multiple uses. Warmth, padding for sleeping, and even first aid. I always bring an extra bandana (besides the one perpetually found on my head).

Waterproof clothing. I cannot stress this enough, it might very well rain. Even if you’re camping in the desert during a drought. It might rain.

Freeze-dried meals are expensive, but they do feed you while taking up less space. These are particularly good options if your trip includes hiking and other calorific activities. You want to maximize your calorie intake while minimizing space in your pack, so think dried fruit, jerky, nuts, and seeds.

Your Nalgene can hold cold drinking water, but it can also hold hot water and serve as a hot compress. If clean drinking water is limited, iodine tablets that purify your water take up little space but they make your water look and taste like you discovered it in a diseased pond down hill from an ink factory.

Bungee cords, duct tape, and trash bags are all very versatile. Trash bags are non-optional, they are light, water proof, and they take up so little space. You can use them to cover your firewood and tinder if it rains, or you can use it to contain your spilled Adobo seasoning. Endless possibilities. Most campsites have a carry in carry out policy. So keep potential garbage output in mind. A handful of protein bars becomes a handful of garbage.

Some environments, like fall in New England, have readily available tinder in the form of detritus; other camping locations, like the Southern Californian desert, may be barren. Dryer lint makes for great tinder and it is compressible and extremely light weight.

Always know your territory. Are you going into bear country? Make sure you have a smell-proof container for absolutely every scented thing you bring. Are you sleeping in the desert? Bring a coat hanger for roasting over the fire since tree branches likely won’t be lying around.

My last tip, camping beer is delicious, but so is camping red wine (and it doesn’t require ice and a cooler).

Do you have any camping tips? Share with us in the comments below.

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