So you’re thinking of going camping this Summer? Maybe it’s your first time or maybe you’re an expert but wonder how others do it. I have a personal packing list I use every time, and it took me a long time to learn through trial and error what and how to pack. I’ve been camping for over 20 years and guiding for 10 years, I’ve spent over 300 nights camping in the back country since I started guiding.
Packing used to really stress me out, not knowing what I would need I used to over pack, thinking it was a good thing to be prepared for anything. When I was a kid in girl guides we would go camping and carry all our stuff, thankfully not very far. I was always the slowest and come in last, because I packed the most stuff. I didn’t want to be that kid in last anymore when I went to college to study Ecotourism. I have it down to an art. I know what I need and bring nothing more. I get really disappointed in myself if I bring things or clothes and don’t use them. I have learned through direct experience of every trip exactly what I need when camping to be comfortable.
Like any travel camping requires planning. Personally I love getting out into the wilderness and putting life on pause while I soak up Nature. There is something so powerful about being reminded of what is really most important in life: food, shelter, and water. All of a sudden when you “rough it” your priorities become more clear and worries seem to get smaller. Sometimes it feels like you need almost nothing at all, but it’s absolutely best to be prepared to be comfortable in all weather. If you’re packed for cold and rainy weather, it’s less likely to happen. So the theory among my friends, bring your jacket so it doesn’t rain. I do not get disappointed in myself if I bring a rain jacket and don’t use it. Although I usually do, it’s a great layering piece for wind or cool weather, or just first thing in the morning. Never leave home to go camping without a rain jacket!
The secret to good packing is planning what to wear. No matter how long the trip is, it makes the most sense to wear the same clothes everyday. This may seem like a bizarre concept; but you’re camping, it’s ok to be dirty and wear dirty clothes. You want to have two sets of clothes, your day clothes and your camp clothes. Your day clothes should be light and quick dry material. I prefer long clothing to be protected from the sun and mosquitoes. If it’s August I add an extra layer and wear a tank top under my long sleeve quick dry shirt so I can have the long sleeves on and off easily. I always wear the same pants, quick dry light pants that zip off into shorts when I want. I’ve had the same ones for years now made by The North Face that have been extremely tough, reliable, and exceptionally stain resistant. Even when I wear them everyday camping they don’t seem to look dirty. Although how you look camping should never be a concern, how you feel should be your priority. Your camp clothes should be comfortable and I always make a point of bringing a t-shirt that I love and makes me feel good when I wear it. You change into these clothes when you’re done exploring for the day and have a less risk of getting wet and as dirty. These clothes can be whatever you want, cotton is fine.
When I mentioned quick dry clothing, that is basically anything except cotton. Cotton takes a long time to dry, and even longer if you’re wearing it. As cotton drys, if you are wearing it, the material will actually pull heat away from your body and make you cold. Not something you want when you’re camping, especially if it’s raining you become quite uncomfortable. Even when quick dry clothing (synthetic, polyester or wool) is wet it will keep you warm. When I was in school learning all about guiding and taking people on adventures, we had a saying about clothing. Cotton is Rotten. Simple as that, you don’t want to wear cotton day clothes. Your comfy camp clothes are fine to be cotton, as long as your heavier layer to keep you warm if it gets cold is fleece or wool. Remember cotton will not keep you warm and if it gets wet you could become dangerously cold, even in August.
The majority of camping I do is in the form of canoe trips, there is something magical about paddling away under your own force from a busy life to get some down time. If you have questions about how this is done, download my ultimate camping packing list and ask me anything. I love to share and encourage others to get out into nature and live their healthiest lives. If getting away and paddling into the Wilderness is appealing to you, you would love my Women’s Wilderness Canoe and Yoga Retreat. Women 30-70 years old, gather and I take them on a 3 day backcountry canoe trip with a yoga instructor.
Enjoy my gift to you! The packing list that took me almost 10 years to perfect. It was a working document for a long time while I learned what I used and needed while camping. You may need to tweak it to your needs, but it works perfectly for me and I would love for you to take a look and let me know what you think. And if you’re ready for an adventure, connection with nature, yourself, and other women let me know if you have any questions about the Women’s Wilderness Canoe and Yoga Retreat. It’s a trip I value so much that I’ve run it every year since 2016 and hope to keep on running it.