Top 10 Camping Must-Haves
I am a type 9 on the enneagram so I LOVE being comfortable. My choice to spend half of my life camping outside has become a weird dynamic; one where I hate packing every weekend, I hate being unsure of where I will be sleeping that night, but I will also do everything in my power to get myself out of my comfort zone. At the end of the day, I know how important it is to my health and all-around well-being to get outside and have these experiences, even if they aren't always comfortable.
That being said, my partner Keith and I camp very comfortably in the outdoors. We very rarely backpack and usually only car camp. Keith truly has a refrigerator in his truck, so camping is pleasent - something that happens naturally over time when you spend every weekend sleeping on the ground. Also, have you ever had a cold beverage after an all day hike when you’re miles up a rocky 4x4 road, hours from the nearest town?
So here are my top 10 camping must-haves. No, the refrigerator isn’t on this list, I tried to keep it more practical. Some items provide comfort, others cover basic necessities, but all are proven to be useful when spending any sort of time in the outdoors.
Teva Ember Mocs and Chacos
My go-to footwear of choice is Socko’s (Chaco’s with socks), Chaco’s, or my Teva down booties. I love Chaco’s because they are comfortable to hike short distances in. I’ve had mine for over 4 years and they are just starting to show wear and tear. Personally, I prefer the model that doesn’t have a toe strap because I like to wear socks with them. As for my Tevas, the Ember Mocs are the perfect night time shoe because they slip on and off and keep my feet warm which is SO important for how often I am camping in the winter, spring, and fall. Since they’re slip-ons, they’re also the best shoe for getting in and out of the tent in the middle of the night. Just don’t hike in them, because they probably won’t stay on.
2. Female Urinary Device
FUD’s are the best and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You know all those times when guys can just whip it out and go anywhere - well now you can too. Staying hydrated in Colorado at high altitude or in Utah in the arid desert is IMPORTANT, but there is a good chance that if you’re outside, you probably won't find a toilet near. Squatting and having your whole butt out is nerve-wracking, and if you’re dispersed camping you probably will not have access to a vault toilet. That's where the FUD comes in - female urinary device. I 100% recommend the Freshette which you can pick up at any REI for $22. I like that the funnel is longer so you have less of a chance of splashing your feet (apparently this is a thing that no one talks about, but it’s gonna happen - find a bush or something instead of gravel or sand!).
3. Charlottes Web CBD
Did you know that CBD is legal nationwide? Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in cannabis-derived from the hemp plant. Many places sell CBD with zero THC, so you don't feel a body high like you would with THC. CBD helps me with exercise-induced inflammation that comes with hiking, and also helps me feel a sense of calm*! The way your body processes CBD is different for everyone and is expensive, so do some research beforehand. For the longest time, I felt CBD “doesn't work for me” but there’s a learning curve! I prefer the oils which I'll take at night by holding it under my tongue. If you want to try my favorite CBD, Charlottes Web, use code Kimberly10 for 10% off!
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
4. Melanzana micro grid hoodie
Once you know of Melanzana, you’ll see them everywhere. I first heard about them from Meg and Nate Kantor of Cedar and Pines while on a camping trip to the sand dunes. Eventually, I found myself in Leadville where they are based out of, purchased my first Melanzana, and have been hooked ever since. Their products are now sold exclusively in their factory in Leadville, Colorado. I love the micro grid hoodie, it has a front pocket that is perfect for hands (or phones), and has a pull closure around your neck to keep it warm. Most body heat escapes from the head so I wear this to bed every night to keep my body warmth in, and to keep my hair from looking like I slept in a beanie. I live in my Melanzana year-round, its perfect for winter layering or summer nights, like this photo above when it was 80 degrees in the Utah desert one day and snowing the next.
5. Kelty Low Loveseat
I love sitting next to my partner while camping, and the Kelty loveseat is the perfect way to do just that! It also has four cup holders so you can put your water AND beer in it. Sometimes when Keith is cooking, I just lie down in it and use the armrest as a footrest, so it also makes a great couch. Keith and I have gone through two of the loveseats, the first of which was stolen out of our campsite last year and immediately replaced within a month.
6. Reliance Aqua-Tainer
Water; one of the most basic needs. While this may seem like a simple suggestion, I have tested quite a few different water storage devices and this simple jug that you can pick up from anywhere is my number one choice. It beats MSR dromedary bags, large capacity Hydroflasks, single-use plastic gallon jugs from grocery stores, etc. I fill mine up with water from the shower, or from campgrounds if I happen to be passing by one as most have potable water! It also holds 7 gallons of water which is plenty to hydrate with, cook with, and douse fires with for multiple weekends.
7. Wag Bags
Why yes, that silver shiny reflective thing is a bag of shit strapped onto the back of my boyfriends back. We do a lot of desert camping and high alpine hiking where poop just doesn’t break down as fast because of the environment, so we pack it out! I prefer these NRS Respot 2 Disposable Bags, so I can just dig a hole and place this into it. It has another bag inside so its extra odor proof, and it comes with toilet paper and a moist towelette.
8. Anything Goal Zero
A staple in the tent at nighttime is the Goal Zero lantern, it has a charging port on it so you can charge anything with a USB port charger (in our case, the iPad :) and it's bright. Goal Zero also makes power packs, which we will bring with us depending on what we need to be charged. If we take my Hyundai Elantra on a road trip (yay 40 miles to the gallon!) then we’ll take the smaller Yeti 150 Power Pack. It has enough power to charge my camera batteries a few times, and enough juice to charge Keith's laptop. However, it doesn’t charge my 2017 MacBook Pro which is a huge bummer because I love working in the car on road trips, and sometimes it's a necessity. For larger power needs, we have the Yeti 400 which powers the Dometic refrigerator that houses my endless supply of yogurt and ice cream sandwiches. It also charges my laptop. Yay! I don’t have any photos of my goal zero so enjoy this photo of Keith's truck instead.
9. Bandanas or Buffs
Bandanas and Buffs are the most versatile camp item and they are SO simple and cheap, how could you not love them. I use them in a multitude of ways while camping and hiking; as fashion accessories, tissues, and as towels and bathing suit tops for those unexpected dips in rivers and lakes. I love these bandanas from the local Idaho store The Compass Goods that double as board games.
10. Earthmate Garmin App
This app should really be #1 but because of how expensive it is, I put it at the bottom of this list. Knowing where you are in the outdoors is CRUCIAL to your safety. If you purchase a Garmin InReach device, it comes with a login to the app Earthmate which is a topo map that includes everything from paved roads, 4x4 roads, trails, designated campgrounds, lakes, rivers, national forests, blm land, telephone lines, railroads, land features, airports, et cetera. This app is literally a life saver. It gives you real time GPS no matter where you are, whether you’re in cell phone service or not, whether you have your Garmin/Delorme on you or not. It allows you to add tracking points, which I use for everything from cool photo locations, awesome camp spots I drive by, places I want to explore in the future, to where my car is at if there is any chance that I could find myself off trail and lost. You can right click in the app and it shows you GPS coordinates, the type of land it is, and the distance from you. Whether you pay the yearly subscription to Garmin or not, this app itself is totally worth the investment. According to Garmin, Earthmate allows you to 1) Access unlimited topographic maps that you can save and store on your device for offline use, 2) Create waypoints for route navigation, 3) Track and Share Location, 4) Pair with your Garmin via Bluetooth to make the whole process easier. I use this app multiple times a day when out exploring because it allows me to find exactly where 4x4 roads are, and where trails and access points are.
I would love to know what some of your top camping must-haves are! Leave a comment with your favorites below!