I love to camp. However, I think most can agree that the WORST part about camping is the packing. There are so many little things to bring, and I usually end up forgetting something really important. A great example is when I went camping with my two best friends and we were planning to have english muffin pizzas for dinner. Except that I forgot cheese. So we drove (far) to a store, only to get back and realize I forgot sauce. Whoops! Because of this (and many other incidents) I have a camping list that I’ve continued to add and subtract from to try to get to the sweet spot of camping organization.
Recently, The Boyfriend and I decided that we would further improve the packing process by getting ourselves a little pop-up tent trailer. Really, you don’t need to buy a trailer to simplify packing, well-organized list will work too. Our idea (other than not sleeping on the ground) is that if we can keep the trailer packed with the essentials, we’ll only have to do minimal packing before a trip.
The Camping Checklist
The key is to have a basic list established with the things you need every time you go camping (sleeping bags, stove, marshmallows), plus a list of more general items that may vary (shirts, socks, booze). Further, I’ve divided my list into “what stays in the trailer”, and “what to pack every time”.
Then I can double check to make sure everything is still in the trailer, and I know what I need to grab from the house. Click this link to see what my current checklist looks like: Camping Checklist. The first page is for stuff to keep in the trailer, the second page is more variable and is what needs to be packed each time.
I use Excel for this because I like the additional formatting options, but it would work well in Evernote too. Plus then it is more portable when you’re out shopping. I usually make it up in Excel and then drop it in a Evernote Note.
Group Camping? Share the List.
If several groups of people are going camping together, put your list up on GoogleDocs or somewhere where everyone can access it. Mark “All” next to items everyone needs to bring for themselves, and have campers put their initials by what they will bring for the group (do this in the “x” column, if you’re looking at my camping list). I’ve done this with friends and it’s worked really well. It’s nice because everyone can see exactly what is still needed, and it limits how much back and forth we had to do. Plus, no one forgets the cheese and pizza sauce!
A Tote For Everything
Before the trailer, most of my camping stuff was still packed and ready to go, it was just sitting in totes in the corner of my garage. My garage was more organized, because everything was contained and in one place, plus when it was time to go I just had to throw them in the car. Having identified totes for kitchen stuff, tools & gear, and food also helped keeps things further organized instead of just throwing it all in willy-nilly. Plus, in a power-outage at my house I could easily find the lantern and headlamp. Now, since our camper folds up and everything isn’t’ easily accessible, we plan to keep several totes just inside the door of the tent trailer of things that have to get washed after we camp, or that we may want to get to (flashlights) between trips. We have a tote for pots & pans, and one for bedding & towels. Another tote for food we will keep empty, and load it up before each trip.
Update Your List Before You Go Home
The packing list only works if it’s current. At the end of each camping trip, before you pack up and leave the site, sit down and make a list of what staples needs to be replenished before next time. Almost out of paper towels? Need more paper plates or garbage bags? Write it down! If you have your pack list in Evernote and you have cell phone access – update it right then and there. Since I don’t typically have my phone on while I”m camping, I keep a little notebook in the trailer for my list and tear off the list and put it in my duffle bag so I remember replenish the trailer when I get home.
We’re heading off on our first trip with the pop-up trailer this weekend. Any tips for us?