Camping is one of the best ways to travel green. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned campers leave behind a bigger footprint than they realize. In order to have a truly green camping experience, it is important to practice leave-no-trace camping. One of the easiest ways to do that is to simply buy and bring less gear.
Whether you are a camping newbie or a seasoned backpacker, here’s what to bring on your next camping trip, and a list of camping gear you should leave at home.
What to Bring on Your Next Camping Trip
1. Quality Tent With Easy Set-Up. A mid-range, 3-season tent is a good investment before a camping trip. Purchasing a quality tent that will last is better for the environment — and your wallet — than purchasing a new low-quality tent every few years. Be sure to opt for one that can be set-up in 10 minutes or less. At the end of a long day, you will be thankful.
Our Pick: TheKelty Gunnison 3.3 Tent is a backpacking tent that can technically fit 3 people, so it will fit two comfortably. We love that it sets up quickly.
2. Sleeping Pad. At the end of a long day, I am so thankful to crawl into a cozy bed. While some people can get away without a sleeping pad for a weekend trip, I definitely recommend everyone have a quality sleeping pad for a longer trip.
Our Pick: A self-inflating Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map sleeping pad is a great choice if you are traveling in a vehicle. We appreciate that there is no pump involved, and that it includes a nylon stuff sack for easy storage. For backpacking, our pick is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker sleeping pad.
3. Camping Stove. Camping stoves are relatively inexpensive and provide a lot of flexibility while camping. Building a fire and then and cooking over it takes some practice, so a camping stove is great — especially for novice campers.
Our Pick: The MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove is a great option because the canisters are easy to find and you can adjust the flame.
4. Multi-Function Dishes. On our last camping trip, we brought plates, bowls, cups, coffee cups, and full sets of silverware. Next time, I would leave all of that at home and bring two things: a shallow bowl that could function as a plate and a cup that works with both hot and cold beverages. I would also replace a fork and spoon with a spork.
Our Pick: We like this Light My Fire spork and the bowls in this tableware set because they are shallow enough to use as plates too. We recommend just leaving the plates at home.
5. Water Bottle with Filter. Rather than lug gallons of water with you on your camping trip, bring one filtered water bottle you can use over an over again. Make sure the bottle you pick is BPA-free and that it filters out everything you need it to filter.
List of Camping Gear You Don’t Need
1. Portable Shower/Toilet. Most campsites have both toilets and showers. If they don’t, it’s often easier to shower in a bathing suit and find a secluded place to do your business. Portable showers and toilets are often cumbersome, especially if you’re not staying in the same place for more than a day or two.
2. Single-Use Items. One of the best examples of a single-use item is a tea kettle. While it seems like it would be a necessity, you can just boil water in a saucepan instead. It might take a couple minutes longer, but a big part of green camping is going with less gear. The same thing is true for sauce pans in multiple sizes; instead just bring one medium-sized pan.
3. A Full-Size Coffee Maker. Coffee makers are another one of those single-use items. Whether it is percolator or a french press, they end to take up a lot of room. Instead, you can buy a one-cup filter-less coffee maker. It sits on top of your coffee mug, you add coffee and boiling water, and in the a couple of minutes you have a tasty cup of joe. I love that there are no filters to deal with, minimizing waste for your green camping trip!
4. Adventure Medical Kits. These handy kits are available at camping stores and come with all of the first-aid items already packed in a bag for you. While you should not skip on the first-aid kit, these pre-made kits are often expensive. Create your own first aid kit using a check-list and purchase items from your local pharmacy.
5. Novelty Items. Walking through a camping store can cause sensory overload. While there are definitely eco-friendly gadgets that can be useful on a camping trip, there are others that just end up taking up extra space. For example, rope can be used instead of specialized clothes lines.
photo credit: mckaysavage
How do you decide what to bring camping? What is the camping gear you will not leave home without? Is there anything you brought on a camping trip and wished you would have left at home?