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Must haves for a camping trip

I'm not really much of a camper, but I know people who are. Considering that an estimated one-third of Americans have gone camping in the past five years, you're bound to know one or two yourself! If you've never been and/or are planning to go soon, you might wonder what sorts of things you need to take with you. Some of them seem pretty obvious but others, not so much. Here are some things no good camping trip would be complete without!

One of the most important things to bring on a camping trip is a good tent. The basic type of tent is the classic 'staked' tent. This has metal or plastic stakes attached to the tent that are hammered into the ground to tie it down. You can also get one that is freestanding-doesn't need to be connected to stakes hammered into the ground-if you want a tent that is easy to move from place to place or if you are going to be camping in rocky areas. Obviously, your tents should be big enough for everyone to sleep in with some space left over. If you're going with a big group, you might want to bring several tents. Also, it can't hurt to bring an extra tarp, rope, stakes and a hammer in case it rains.

Another essential is the sleeping bag. Some people will bring air mattresses or hammocks, but you should still have a basic sleeping bag for warmth.

You're going to want to have plenty of food and an easy way to cook it. Some 'camping-friendly' foods are hot dogs, marshmallows, cans of beans and perhaps a cast-iron griddle. My husband and his friends made 'trail burritos'-basically a flour tortilla with eggs, grits, cheese and link sausages cooked over a fire. Many people also bring 'trail mixes' of nuts, fruits and granola for energy on hiking trails. As for cooking, it helps to have a portable gas burner and perhaps some of your own wood and matches. Some campgrounds have grills and cooking aids, but it's good to have your own in case these aren't available.

Some other basics for camping are:
  • A flashlight and batteries
  • Water
  • Toiletries-toilet paper, towel, a trowel (to bury waste), toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, combs, etc.
  • Maps and a compass
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Good shoes! I'm not just talking about street shoes...hiking boots, as well as another pair of sturdy shoes in case the others get wet. You should also bring a change of clothes, underwear and socks.
  • Swiss-Army Knife
  • Water Purifier kit, usually found at camping/sporting goods stores
  • Bug repellant and/or a citronella candle

Remember that you're going to have to carry this stuff with you! Be sure that you have a good backpack, and don't overload yourself. It's one thing to wear a backpack with books to school, but another thing to have one with camping equipment on an uphill hike!

Hopefully I didn't forget anything but, in case I did, you can often find information and tips at camping/sporting goods stores. The associates there are usually very knowledgable and helpful. Have fun!

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