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Getting Around UT
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Camping Gear Essentials
What to Pack
Every seasoned camper will come up with a list of must-haves for venturing into the wilderness. Here is what I take with me.

Shelter
A most important thing to keep you safe from the elements. On a warm clear night, you might be tempted to forego the tent and just throw the sleeping bag on the ground. But I like to be safe inside a tent, away from biting insects and curious bigger critters. If you have ever been awakened by a skunk trying to get at the beef jerkey you forgot that you left in your pocket, you, too, will like the secure walls of a tent.
This did not happen to me personally, I subscribe to the "no food in the tent" philosophy, but it did happen to a friend :-)

    The Basics:

    • Tent
      Make sure the tent design and strength matches the conditions.
    • Ground tarp
      This helps protect the tent bottom as well as acting as an extra layer between you and the ground.
    • Sufficient amount of stakes
      and maybe even a few extra in case one breaks
    • Something to pound the stakes into the ground
      (ie a hammer) or you may be able to find a large rock at the site to use

    Some Extras:

    • Shade tarp and accessories
      (ropes, poles, etc) (This comes in handy for hanging out during the middle of a hot sun day, and also aids with cooking in the case of rain.
    • Doormat
      For the tent entrance a place to store muddy or sandy boots and keep the dirt out of the tent.
    • Dust pan and brush
      to clean out the tent before packing it back up

Sleeping Gear
Like with the tent, matching the bag to the conditions will help keep you comfortable and asleep instead of shivering (or sweating) and tossing and turning.

    The Basics:

    • Sleeping bag
      Synthetics are less expansive and more care-free but down lasts longer. Rectangle-shaped bags can unzip and then sip back up to another bag (you can get closer to your tent mate that way), and mummy bags are better in very cold temps.
    • Sheets
      Or another type of liner helps keep the bag cleaner longer. After getting home, you can just toss the sheet into the wash. (I use an odinary twin bed sheet, folded in half and sewn half way up.)
    • Sleeping Pad
      So may options, from the large, bed-sized air mattresses to the ultra thin self inflating kind. Whatever you decide on a pad is not only a soft layer but an extra layer between you and the ground (a necessitiy in cold weather.)
    • Pillow
      Another item that aids in making you more comfortable, a pillow can either be an actual pillow, or a stuff sack stuffed with your jacket or other items in your trael bag.

    Some Extras:

    • Cot
      If you have the room in your tent (and in the car!) sleeping on a cot can be rather decadant.
    • Blankets
      Just in case -- in case it gets colder than you thought, or in case your bag proves too hot and a light blanket ends up working better.
    • Repair kit for air mattress or sleeping pad

Clothing
Street clothes won't cut it in the forest or desert.

    The Basics:

    • Sturdy walking shoes or boots
    • Comforable shorts or long pants
      Bring at least a change of clothing, if space allows, bing a variety of item for varying conditions. I like the pants with the zip-off legs. Jeans are not a good option since they are heavy and take a long timeto dry.
    • T-shirts
    • Socks/Underwear
    • Something to sleep in
      Something reserved just for sleeping and is not worn other places -- i.e. has no food odors
    • Hat
      Especially one with a brim to keep the sun off your face
    • Sweatshirt/jacket
      Even in the desert in the middle of summer, the nights can get cold.
    • Rain gear
      Even a simply plastic poncho will keep you dry in the case of an unexpected downpour.

    Some Extras:

    • Extra Changes of Clothes
      If space allows, bring a few more changes of clothing than you think you might need, including differing degrees of warm. Conditions can change unexpectedly.
    • Umbrella
    • Dirty Clothes bag
      I use the grocery bags with the handles.

Personal Items
Like with the tent, matching the bag to the conditions will help keep you comfortable and asleep instead of shivering (or sweating) and tossing and turning.

    The Basics:

    • Towel or washcloth
      Even if a shower is not available, a washcloth is a nice thing to have for your morning toilette over the campfire pit.
    • Tooth brush and tooth paste
      Some people don't think this is a necessity, but it is in my camping bag.
    • Bio-degradeable soap
      If plumbing isn't available, use this stuff to wash dishes and your hands, etc.
    • First_Aid_Kit
      Click for a list of essentials to carry in your first aid kit.
    • Personal medications
      Don't forget any meds you either take regularly or might need (besides those in the first aid kit)
    • Sunglasses
    • Feminine products

    Some Extras: There's nothing like getting clean after a day of getting dirty. Sometimes, (like when you are backpacking) some luxuries just don't get a pized spot in the pack. But in car camping, when there is more space, some of these items will really add to your comfort.

    • Camping shower
    • Camping shower shelter and wooden platform
      You can get these shelters at camping stores (they are like a tall thin tent without a floor and are convenient if camping in a group). I built a small (around 2 ft x 2 ft) platform out of plywood to stand on while showering (instead of standing in mud.)
    • Shower shoes
    • Soap and shampoo
      But only if an indoor-with-plumbing shower is available---don't use soap or shampoo outside that is not bio-degradeable.
    • Deodorant
    • Razor
    • Toilet paper
    • Comb or brush
      Yes, some will put this in the "basics" list, but if your hair is short, you can "comb" it with your fingers. If it is long, you can tie it back or braid it.
    • Nail Clippers

Camp Kitchen
I'm a minimalist when it comes to food, I would rather spend the day either eploring or relaxing, so gourmet food is not a priority for me. Stock your food boxes with the things you are willing to cook.

    The Basics:

    • A Cooler
      to keep your food cold (and safe from the elements.) Be sure to always keep the cooler in the car, don't invite bears or other critters into camp.
    • Large Water Containers
      Not all camp spots will supply water so make sure you have your own.
    • Food Box
      Keep your food all in one place so it is easier to find when you need to prepare a meal. See "Cooking Tips" below for some more ideas.
    • Seasonings and condiments
      Don't forget the extras that make meals just that much better. Use small containers (or zip-lock bags) instead of taking the whole bottle of olive oil or box of salt.
    • Snacks
      Especially for long drives.
    • Drinks
      Whatever that means to you: beer, coffee, sodas. etc.
    • Camp Stove
      Small backpacking stoves work great, but if car camping, it is more convenient to have something bigger such as a two-burner variety. (I love the Coleman electronic ignition model.) A stove is also essential in areas where open fires are not permitted.
    • Matches or lighter
      I like those lighter sticks that don't need matches.
    • Cookwear
      You can get a compact kit from camping stores, complete with lids. You might want to supplement the kit with a larger frying pan.
    • Cook utensils
      Items such as a spatula, sharp knife (I use a foldable Swiss-army knife), can opener and a big spoon will come in real handy.
    • Eating Utensils
      The easiest is to use plastic disposable dinnerwear, but that is not the best thing for the environment.
    • Dinner flatwear and drinking vessels
      Same for utensils, paper or plastic works, but it is better to get something a little more substantial. Being a minimalist, I go for the one-mug-or-all liquids. Some of my friends even bring wine glasses! If you don't mind cleaning all those extras, by all means, indulge!
    • Potholders
    • Paper towels
      These also double as napkins.
    • Trash bags
    • Biodegradeable soap
    • Scrubbing pad
      Makes cleanup a lot easier. I have often used a pine cone for this job (and then putting the dirty pine cone either in the fire or in the trash, don't leave it around to attract animals.
    • Containers for food storage
      Since you already portioned everything out ahead of time, you probably won't have leftovers (in a perfect world, that is :-) I like to use zip-lock bags. They don't take up any space if you don't use them. Besides leftovers, I use them for holding the other half of the can of tuna that you are going to eat tomorrow.

    Some Extras:

    • A stove stand or roll-up table
      Wilderness camping areas won't be equipped with a picnic table, so supplying your own will make cooking easier on your back.
    • Portable sink
    • Thermos
      I make a whole pot of coffee and then put most of it in a thermos. Then while we are tidying up camp, we can still be enjoying the rest of the coffee. A Thermos is also a great idea for heating soup ahead of time for a hot lunch on the go.
    • Firewood and kindling
      A campfire at night (or even on a cold morning) is a great thing. Some places don't allow outside firewood brought in (they don't the spread of whatever bugs might be living in firewood brought into the park. So before you bring firewood in, ask the custodian of the campground what their policy is.
    • Newspaper
      Newspaper makes great kindling. Save up beore you go and bring a pile along if you plan to have a camp fire.
    • Dutch oven
      Some of my favorite meals came out of a dutch oven while camping. But cooking this way will require more time.
    • Campfire grill
      A lot of organized campground will provide a fire pit with grill. But who knows where that grill has been? The grill is a great way to cook meat.
    • Clothes pins and rope
      Especially helpful if you are going swimming and want to dry your suit, but also useful if it rains one day and then dries out enough to warrant hanging clothes on the line.
    • Cutting board
      Makes slicing tomatoes for your samdwiches a little easier.

    Cooking Tips:

    • Use a Cooking Tarp
      Mentioned above under "shelter basics" a tarp can really help keep the stove lit if it is raining.
    • Prepare before you go
      • Take serving-sized portions of whatever is on the menu, and group ingredients according to the menu. While it is good to have a little etra in case you have to stay longer than expected, it is always good to open a bag and have everything you need for that meal in that bag. (I.e. a zip lock bag that contains smaller zip lock bags of spaghetti, pesto ingredients, a can of beans, etc), so finding what you need for that meal is fast and easy.
      • If you can dehydrate things, that will give you more space, and make the ingredients travel better.
      • If a food item can be pre-cooked, do it. Baked potatoes on the fire will take a long time, but if they are pre-cooked, you need only enough time (and fuel) to re-heat them.
      • Consider adding packets of instant soup for seasonings (I love to add onion soup mix --or others-- to rice to spice it up) or for a quick, no-fuss meal on a rainy day.
      • Covering your sook pots will allow the contents to cook faster, saving you time and fuel.
      • Use tin foil for cooking instead of pans. No cleanup, just throw the foil away. (I like to steam mushrooms this way -- ad mushrooms, a little olive oil, basil and close up the foil "pot" and let it sit on the fire for a few minutes. Yum.)
      • As with cleaning yourself, if plumbing is not available, use bio-degradeable soap for cleaning up after meals.
      • Always pack out what you bring in to your campsite.

    • Keep your cooking kit organized
      I thought I was the queen of organization, but when my sister came camping with me, she did a number on my cooking kit. Instead of having all tools in a big bag, she put eating utensils (forks, spoons, etc) into one zip-lock bag and cooking utensils (can opener, spatula, etc) into another. So easy to find things now!

Outisde the Tent Camp Furniture
If you are camping at an established campsite, a picnic table with benches will most likely be provided. If not, it sure is nice to have a folding chair to relax around the campire in.

    The Basics:

    • Folding chairs

    Some Extras:
    I have a table that rolls up and stores easily.

    • Folding table
    • Hammock

Miscellaneous Essentials
If you are camping at an established campsite, a picnic table with benches will most likely be provided. If not, it sure is nice to have a folding chair to relax around the campire in.

    The Basics:

    • Maps or Guide Books
    • Multitool or pocket knife or Multi tool
      Such as a Swiss Army Knife, already mentioned under "Cooking".
    • Water bottles
      I like the camelback type of hydration packs rather than water bottles because they hold more and are easier to just grab the hose and take a sip.
    • Lanterns, flashlights or headlamps
      Usually essential for navigating to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or for reading a favorite book before bedtime.
    • Extra batteries/bulbs
    • A good book
      Or something else to entertain you around the campfire, or ir you are laid up because or inclement weather.
    • Insect repellent
    • Sunscreen
    • Camera
      Who's going to believe you saw a grizzly bear if you have no photographic proof?
    • Backpack or fanny pack
      To carry lunch, a light rain jacket, first aid kit, water, etc
    • Plastic grocery bags
      These things are so versatile, for things such as holding dirty clothes or muddy shoes, trash, or for separating things inside yourpack.

    Some Extras:

    • Iodine or water filter
    • Binoculars of Spotting Scope
    • Utility bags for storage
    • Compass or GPS
    • Bungi cords or straps
    • Cards or other games
    • Duct tape
      It is like "The Force". It has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together.
    • Notepad and pen
    • Cell phone and auto charger
    • Small shovel
    • Safety pins
    • Box of Tissues
    • Hand wipes
    • Small sewing kit
    • Watch

This seems like an awful lot, and not everybody will want to take all these things. But having essentials as well as a few luxury items really makes the trip more enjoyable. And if you use travel sized things, dry your food and keep to the basics, your travel kit will be compact yet robust.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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