Camping Tips



  • Tents: Learn how to Pick, Care for and Use Them
  • Keep your tent dry
  • Buy at least a "couple people bigger" than your family
  • Regarding size, you will want to keep in mind where you will be camping. Not all campsites are created equal. Your tent size may require a bigger campsite!
  • If buying a tent with an attached screen house, keep in mind what one camper told us of their experience... their attached screen house had a floor; when it rained this floored-screen house held water like a swimming pool!
  • Dome or cabin - it's really a personal preference.
  • tent poles
  • tent stakes
  • Many tents come with the inexpensive easily bendable aluminum kind. Be sure to invest in some of
    the plastic yellow or orange ones. You will have much better luck anchoring the tarp that covers your tent to these stakes than the aluminum ones.
  • tarp(s)
  • can be used to cover the ground under your tent prolonging the life of your tent (just make sure the tarp you use under your tent is slightly smaller than the floor of your tent)
  • TIP: This tarp can be used over your tent to protect it from bird droppings, sparks, tree branches, extra rain protection, and the sun.
  • TIP: If using the tarp over your tent, try to get it bigger than your tent to have an overhang by your tent door. It is wonderful not to have to step out of your tent immediately into the rain. This keeps the inside of your tent drier! Some people have been known to buy an inexpensive dining canopy just for the poles to use for the tarp over their tent.


  • wood cover
  • lantern(s)There are several different kinds:
    Coleman rechargeable battery twin florescent
    • great for in the tent Coleman propane electronic ignition (no matches needed) - a little noisy
    • Coleman propane dual mantle (needs matches) - a little noisy
    • Coleman fuel (dual mantle)
    • TIP: Don't forget the funnel to fill this one!
    • recharger or propane fuel (Depending on your lantern)
    • You may want to invest in a bulk propane tank.  The initial investment in the tank itself and first fill was about $35. To refill our 20 lb. tank costs about $8.00. A bulk tank also requires a pipe and hose. One 1# cylinder of propane costs about $2 ($1.87) in our area. Doing your math, it would cost $40 to fill the 20 lb. tank at the roughly $2.00/lb. price. A significant savings! For weekend camping our personal opinion is the bulk tank is a hassle, but for anything longer than a weekend it would be worth it!  Coleman fuel and funnel mantles (there are even "clip on" style mantles out now)
  • spare mantles
  • matches
    • We keep our matches in a square Tupperware container, keeping them dry. Plus we keep them out of sight in another container.
  • dependable flashlight
    • We finally "broke down" and bought a 4 cell Mag light.  Worth every penny of the $20.
  • lantern tree hanger
    • In the camping section, a long chain (with a big stable hook) that wraps around a tree.
    • We have several of these tree hangers. We also use them to hang the citronella bucket candles.
    • This also saves the trees. Sadly, many campers still pound nails into trees to hang their lanterns.  This causes damage to the tree, and the tree will die.
    • I've also seen Shepard's hooks used to hang lanterns.
  • Fire extinguisher!
  • small hatchet
  • stake hammering mallet
    • ours is rubber with a hook on the other end for pulling up stakes
  • small broom to sweep out your tent
    • If you have a tent that you can stand up in and have room in your vehicle, you will save your back if you are able to take along a regular kitchen broom.
  • small rug for outside your tent door
    • This is important because it really cuts down on the dirt that would otherwise end up in your tent!
  • clothes line and clothes pins
  • cooler(s)
  • Sometimes you may want to take 2. One for "beverage" cooler and one for food.
    • We purchased the basic plastic cooler, but have found they don't stay near as cold as a really good metal cooler. A metal cooler would be heavier, but in the long run you won't be needing as much ice.
  • ice
    • Don't forget to stop for ice!!
    • We buy the loose cubed kind, because I think it is easier to fit the food in the cooler.  Many people use the big block of ice.  You decide what will be right for your needs.
    • TIP: "Reuse 2 liter soda bottles, fill with water and freeze, put in your cooler, they stay frozen a long time and as they melt you have fresh 'home' water."
  • 5 gallon water container
    • One with a spigot for drinking is nice. A square shaped one will pack easier in your car than a round one.
    • We take two on a long trip. One for drinking and one for cooking.


  • folding step ladder
    • good (and safe!) for some height when tying tarps to the trees
  • rake
  • Kott grill (grate)
    • Don't count on having a dependable grate over your fire pit. If your fire pit has a grate it may be small or bent up. The Kott grill is actually just a flat grate that takes up less car space than even a small kettle style grill. We bought our Kott grill from Gander Mountain, but have seen them in other catalogs, like Cabella's. There are a few different sizes. Ours has a "warming shelf."  I like to keep the coffee pot or covered pan of water on. The entire grill/grate pivots making adding wood to the fire convenient.
    • steel wool (for cleaning the grates and B B Q grill) steel brush (for cleaning the grates and B B Q grill)
  • maul
    • This comes in very handy for splitting the big chunks of wood many Campground firewood vendors sell.
  • various length bungee cords (You can hardly have too many of these!)
    • for hanging tarps from the trees bungee loops
    • TIP: Great for bungeeing the tarp that covers your tent to stakes!
  • guy line adapters
    • These are like short little bungees with only one
      hook. These are used in conjunction with the ropes
      you use on your tarps.
    • TIP: A great advantage to using these to attach your tarp to the stakes is that in a wind you are less likely to pop the grommets from your tarp. The bungees provide your tarp with move "give" in stressful situations than just a rope does.
  • dining canopy or screen house
    • the "slantier" the sides of your screen house, the more wet space inside the screen house in a rain.
    • TIP: Buy enough plastic drop cloths in the paint department of Wal Mart/K Mart to go around the sides you want covered of your screen house. Clothespin them to the seam where the screen meets the ceiling. This also keeps you warmer when it's chilly in the fall/spring. A bit of an inconvenience, but hey, it works! Last fall we saw a screen house completely "wrapped up" in a tarp.  Those campers were nice and toasty in there. The combination of the lantern for light and the tarp kept them
      very warm.
  • lawn chairs
  • If you're camping in mosquito territory, you may want to bring along some citronella candles. Many campers feel these really work!
  • hammock
  • Dutch oven
  • Porta-potty
    • chemicals
    • tissue
    • "potty tent" (a.k.a. a privacy shelter or shower stall)


In a smaller Rubbermaid container (10 gallon) put the

  • matches or lighter
  • Keep your matches in a square Tupperware container, keeping them dry (and/or Coleman water proof matches)
  • newspaper
  • little sticks
  • small hatchet
  • Rubber with a hook on the other end for pulling up stakes
  • gloves to pick up hot stuff
    • These come in amazingly handy!
  • stake hammering mallet
    • (The mallet really isn't part of fire starting, but it gets used a lot and you want to keep it somewhere you can always find it!)


  • sleeping bags
  • pillows and pillowcases
  • some kind of sleeping mat/pad
    • The combination of foam and air makes for a great insulator in all types of temperatures.
    • TIP: A large size utility bags or duffle bag (next stop the army surplus store) can be used to put put the sleeping bag, pillow and sleeping pad. On a short trip you could also roll clothes up in the sleeping bag. Once at camp, when the sleeping bag is unrolled the clothes go in the duffel bag.  Rubbermaid tubs are excellent for putting your cloths in and keep them dry!
  • You may find a cot a nice little extra.
    • It can be bulky to haul but it keeps your body off the damp ground and gives extra storage space in your tent.
  • Fanny packs are a great addition! The ones that hold a water bottle or two.

Depending on the season you might want to take:

  • sheets
    • can feel better to lay on in humid weather than a hot sleeping bag
    • wool blankets nothing beats a wool blanket as an insulator on cool/cold nights.


  • stove
    • A 2 burner propane electronic ignition are excellent.
    • If you don't have a special stove stand, set your stove up at the end of the table, otherwise you will get a backache from leaning over the bench to cook.
    • Since the stove is electronic ignition, the lantern in the "kitchen" is also electronic ignition you won't have to search for matches.
  • vinyl flannel backed table cloth
    • this folds very neatly to set on the stove for transport. Once at camp, setting up your "kitchen" is made simple having all your kitchen equipment handy.
  • Chuck Box should have a utensil bin. In it keep:
    • can opener
      • get a nice one, you'll be glad you did
    • bottle opener
    • scissors (a small Fiskars)
    • star wrap-around coffee filters
      • The coffee filters makes it easier to clean the basket the grounds are in.
    • teaspoon measure
    • the sliding measure kind
    • green pot scrubby
    • spatula
    • cheese slicer
    • vegetable peeler
    • screw on bottle tops
      • the kind that you can use on soda/pop bottles to make them into drinking bottles
  • Silverware tray. In it keep:
    • 8 forks
    • 8 spoons
    • 8 knives
    • extra green pot scrubbies
    • small pancake flipper
  • Dishes
    • 8 plates
    • 8 mugs
    • paper plates
  • 14 Cup Coleman percolator
  • Camp Coffee
  • 2# coffee
  • 2 thermal mugs
  • a flat grater
  • timer
  • sandwich size zip bags
  • gallon size zip bags
  • tea bags and coffee
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic salt
  • measuring cups
  • small "ditty bag" with table cloth clips
    • Buy the metal basic table cloth clips in the camping section. (The springs on the fancy plastic clips break.) Buy 2 packs - more than you would need for just the tablecloth.
    • TIP: Clip 2 of these tablecloth clips to the table about a foot apart.  Take one of the bungee cords/straps you brought along and hang it on one of these clips. Now take a roll of paper towels and put the bungee cord/strap through it and hang the other end on the other clip. Voila! A convenient paper towel holder.
    • TIP: Save your plastic grocery sacks through out the year. Clip another table cloth clip on the end of your table with one of these plastic grocery bags attached to it. Now you have a very convenient garbage sack! We hang 2 - one for garbage and one for recycle. This way you don't have so much garbage hanging around attracting the animals throughout the day. If it rains, these sacks don't fall apart. Hang your extra sacks from another clip on the table.


Rubbermaid container with the following:

  • pot holders
  • 2 pots with lids
  • these thin enamelware pans heat water very quickly, saving on fuel
  • popcorn pan
  • 10" cast iron skillet
  • Cast iron is heavy, but it distributes the heat evenly and a well seasoned pan cleans easily.
  • cast iron griddle
  • funnel
  • stainless steel bowl
  • camping toaster
  • ladle
  • spatula
  • wooden spoon
  • BBQ fork
  • BBQ tongs
  • French knife
  • heavy duty aluminum foil
  • paper towels
  • wooden cutting board

In this big container also keep:

  • a small sized thin plastic cutting board
  • baby wipes
  • even without a baby, one can't deny the convenience of this wonderful invention!
  • Caladryl Clear
  • Caladryl Clear works good for poison ivy, bug/tick repellent
    • TIP: To get the repellent on the face, spray the repellent on the BACK of your hand and then dab it on the forehead and cheeks. Do not get any in the eyes.
  • bottle of rubbing alcohol
    • TIP: Great for getting the pitch (pine tar) off of hands or clothing.
  • bleach
    • TIP: depending on your water source, you may want to put a small amount (a tablespoon or so) of bleach in your rinse water.
  • Wiping down your table with the "bleachy rinse water" helps to keep your table cleaner
  • To wash your dishes don't forget ...
    • 2 deep dish pans
      • one is for washing and one is for rinsing drainer
    • antibacterial dish soap
  • antibacterial hand soap and/or instant hand sanitizer
  • suntan lotion
  • TIP: Take this small sized thin plastic cutting board out of the box and place it on one end of the table.  Then put all this other stuff on the board for a very handy place to keep it where everyone can find it.  Having these often used products out where they can easily be found cuts down on the wear and tear of your tent zipper and your tent floor.  The animals leave that stuff alone.


An Army ammo type box would do

  • duct tape
    • great for repairing holes in your tarp!
  • spare batteries of whatever size you use
  • multipliers
  • Swiss Army knife
  • compass
  • How to use a compass
  • adjustable wrench
  • pliers
  • small bottle of bubbles (good for checking for gas leaks)
  • propane tank
  • knot tying card
  • nylon repair tape
  • spare lantern generator
  • camping scissors
  • extra rope
  • liquid puncture preventative and repair kit
  • spare fluorescent tubes
  • sportman's goop
    • A "must" for repairing those leaks you discovered in last nights rain!
  • seam sealer
  • 3/8" Grommet kit


In it keep ...

  • flashlights
  • battery operated radio
  • battery operated lamp
  • magazines
  • binoculars
  • camera/film


  • bath towels
  • wash cloths
    • Buy these items at rummages so you have your "camping towels" to take the stress off of getting your "good" towels possibly ruined.
  • shower bag
  • laundry bag
  • We keep our "toiletry" type items in a gallon size ice cream
    bucket. This bucket is cheap, can easily be cleaned at camp and it doesn't matter if it gets wet. The lid is nice because it helps keep ash and "stuff" out.
  • a small cup (like the espresso/cappuccino cups in the camping department)
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • soap
  • q tips
  • mirror
    • the mirror you find in the camping section - it has a handy little hook/hanger thing for hanging it.
  • deodorant
    • TIP: "Deodorant containing aluminum (pretty much all of them do) can be applied to a sting to help stop an allergic reaction for first-time stings. Serious allergic reactions should always be followed up with a visit to a doctor."
  • razor/shaving cream


  • Whistles
  • An eye glass repair kit
  • tweezers
  • Alcohol preps
  • Bandage tape
  • Butterfly closures
  • Diaper pins (All purpose -- "You never know when these might come in handy!")
  • A&D ointment
  • Neosporin Plus
  • Finger splint
  • Small travel size of Vicks VaporRub
  • Regular size band-aides
  • Sample size of Myoflex
  • Ziplock bag with a few Q-tips and cotton squares
  • Emergency blanket
  • Adhesive tape remover pads
  • Hydrocortisone Cream for itches
  • Thermometers (you can buy single use ones in the pharmacy
  • Disposable razor
  • Bandage scissors
  • Forceps (for getting fish hooks out)
  • Extra-large bandages (great for those skinned knees or elbows after a spill from a bike or roller blades)
  • 11/2 x2 inch gauze pads
  • 2x2 inch gauze pads
  • 3x4 inch gauze pads
  • 2 maxi-pads (excellent for absorbing a lot of blood from a cut)
  • Betadine
  • Moleskin
  • Ace-Bandage
  • Burn ointment
  • Surgitube turbular gauze (use this for the burns)
  • Knuckle Band-Aids
  • fingertip Band-Aids
  • Medicine dropper

Mini medicine chest:

(either have a small container for loose tablets or keep save the sample packets that come in the mail and place them in a sandwich size Ziplock bag)

  • Pain relievers (Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen)
  • Antacids
  • Laxatives
  • Pepto Bismol tablets and/or Imodium
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