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Take command of your adventure
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By:    On: 2011-08-08

Preparation is essential for any outdoor adventure. Not having needed equipment and supplies can really put a damper on a potentially great trip.

My family keeps checklists for packing easy and preparation for each trip we take - whether camping or just a road trip - not only does this practice keep us organized, it also helps us keep up with any supplies that need to be refilled or replaced. 

Your family's camping lists will probably differ from ours in ways and you may want to add or subtract some things, but at the very least you will have a starting point.  

We can't go on a trip without a vehicle!  Let's start with things to always keep in your car/van/truck:

  • Tool box
  • Pliers
  • Motor oil
  • Brake, steering and wiper fluids
  • Air Pump
  • Tire gauge, jack, lug wrench and spare tire
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning reflectors and flares
  • Rope, flashlight,squeegee, bucket (it may go without saying but it's a good idea to use the bucket to store some of these items)
  • Toilet paper
  • Vehicle registration and insurance paperwork


Now that our vehicle is good to go, let's talk about personal gear.  In my family we have an annual ritual to go along with this part of the list; we make personal camp bags.  Yes, I said make.  Look for more on that in next Monday's post...  In the mean time, here is our personal gear checklist:

  • Pillow, sleeping bag and/or pad (if you don't have a sleeping pad, hit the thrift stores for blankets.  A couple of blankets laid out on the floor of the tent makes things nice and comfy.)
  • Notebook
  • Rain Gear
  • Bathroom kit
  • Personal survival kit and whistle (see below)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Water bottle
  • 2 Washcloths: 1 for the face, 1 for backup.
  • 2 Towels: 1 for showers, 1 for swimming/beach/backup (tip: lay these on top of each other, topped with the washcloths, and roll it all together.  They'll fit nicely in the corner of your duffle bag or backpack.
  • Swimsuit
  • Warm/Cool weather pajamas: Even if you're camping in the middle of the summer, bring both.  We camped in the Poconos last June.  Although it was 90 degrees in the day, the weather dropped to 50 at night.  We were cozy and warm.  
  • Warm pants, long-sleeved and t-shirts, shorts, socks, shower shoes and sneakers.
  • Don't forget the duffle bag or backpack to hold everything!  Again, hit the thrift or Salvation Army store for this.  Don't buy new luggage!  Camping is dirty.  Do you really want to invest money in something you know is eventually going to get stained and dirty?  I didn't think so.  )


Although we practice the buddy system and none of us goes off alone, we all carry our own survival kit.  I sleep better at night knowing we are each covered for the "just in case" situations of life.

  • Canister first aid kit
  • Emergency poncho and rescue blanket (look for the kind with a shiny side to it)
  • Waterproof matches, whistle, pocket knife (If you're not comfortable with the young ones having a knife, look for keychain-sized Swiss army knives.  Sit with the child and explain the knife's purpose and how to use it.)
  • Plastic sheet and cord/rope (for emergency shelter)
  • Pencil and paper, sharpie marker (the fat kind)
  • Fire starter, candle, mini flashlight, batteries
  • Signal Mirror.


These are good starter lists; as I said earlier, some things may not apply to you so feel free to add/subtract according to what your family requires.

Stay tuned to Wednesday's blog, where I will go into lists for base camp gear, family first aid and fun & games, camp kitchen gear lists.


Happy camping!


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