It doesn't matter who you are or where you live, at some point your friends or family will want to plan a camping trip. And when they do, you can expect people with varying degrees of expertise to be involved—from the unseasoned novice to the sullen, quiet weird dude that can build a fire with a twig and piece of twine. This checklist is for the former.
1. Don't pee in the fire
There are no words in the English language that can adequately express how foul this smells.
2. Our headlamps look ridiculous, but you'll wish you had one later
Headlamps are the the fanny packs of camping gear. Kinda stupid looking, but indisputably functional. Plus, they free up our hands to fight bears and build structures out of driftwood.
3. Your phone will die
Just let it happen. Then your Mophie will die. You'll have sh*tty service out in the woods anyway and you're literally surrounded by the majestic beauty of Mother Nature's bounty. Look around you.
4. Yes, this hatchet is sharp. No, you cannot throw it at that tree.
Hatchets are not just hipster ephemera resigned to a life of complementing succulents in lofts owned by bearded men without real jobs. They're an extremely useful and mildly-dangerous tool used for chopping wood, making kindling, and okay, fine... sometimes throwing at trees.
5. Never underestimate the value of clean, dry socks
Camping for two nights? Pack four pairs. You won't regret it.
6. Never leave food out overnight
Do you want bears? Because that's how you get bears. Put them in bear-proof containers or string your food up securely between two trees.
7. Stop throwing all the wood on the fire
We love raging bonfires as much as the next true blue red-blooded American. But when all the wood's burned through by 8pm, it means we have to go forage for armloads of twigs throughout the night. And there are bears out there.
8. We find nothing strange about eating multiple hotdogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Hey, it's survival mode out here.
9. Your clothes and hair will smell like campfire for days
Embrace it. This is who you are now. A stinky, filthy, dirt-person who smells like a campfire. It's a great life.
10. Ropes are great. Tarps are better.
You can create a seemingly endless amount of things with a rope and a tarp. For starters, you can easily construct a shelter that will keep you and your things dry and warm. You can (and should) also use tarps for ground cover to keep dew and bugs away from your tent and your things.
11. You’ll need more water than that
As a rule of thumb, when camping for three days you should have at least one gallon of water per person. If you plan on cracking some beers though, you'll want to bring an extra to combat the dehydration that's likely to ensue. You could also invest in a purifier if you see this whole camping thing becoming more than a hobby. Or at least iodine tablets that will purify creek water in a few minutes.
12. You’ll need more ice than that
If you're bringing food and drinks, you'll likely be hauling a few coolers to store it all in. Between cooking and grabbing brewskis, it's amazing how quickly the ice melts from people opening and closing the cooler's lid. Even an extra bag or two can last throughout the night.
13. A camping chair is not optional
About 85% of camping is sitting there doing nothing. So, you're going to need a nice chair.
14. We know the best spots to set up the tents
It isn't that spot by the water that lacks shade and has rocks covering the ground. Waking up on a deflated air mattress whilst the sun slowly roasts you through your sleeping bag and mosquitos bite every exposed square inch of your face sucks. I wouldn't know, but I've heard stories.
15. You will cover yourself in bug spray. You will get bitten anyway.
Unless you empty an aerosol can of DEET onto every inch of your exposed, sinewy body, expect some menacing bites.
16. We know the best time to gather firewood
It's usually about 45 minutes before dusk, when the sun hits the ridges just right to reveal a vast amount of... nah, just kidding. It's anytime before dark. Gather as many armloads as you can, and then go back and gather more. It's almost impossible to end up with too much firewood.
17. You'll be surrounded by stars...and people
Unless you're willing to hike miles and miles into the woods and camp out at a primitive site, the chances of you stargazing solo is slim to none.
18. Our tents are purposefully small
A little tent means easier set up, more storage in our undersized apartments, and the ability to take them on hiking trips. All important factors.
19. We love weekday camping
Empty campgrounds are the best. No children, no RV traffic, no distant echoes of someone playing Oasis on their acoustic guitar. It's blissful.
20. Our sleeping pads are probably more comfortable than your bed
This isn't an exaggeration. Sleeping pads have come a long way in the past few years and are more comfortable than ever. They're also a great alternative to bulky air mattresses.
21. Car camping is great, but it just isn't the same
I'm not saying there's a right and a wrong way to camp...but there's definitely a better way. Hiking to a primitive site to spend a couple of nights away from any human contact is something car camping will never live up to.
22. Our backpacks can fit more useful gear than the backseat of your car
This isn't intended as a brag, it's something that just happens from experience. There's a beauty in shedding some of that bulky gear and understanding the functionality of everything you pack. Plus, it takes up less closet space.
23. Don’t attempt to forage
Just stop. Here, eat this hot dog.
24. We’ll always be the first ones to wake up
We could be the last ones down, it doesn't matter. If we wanted to sleep in, we'd have stayed home. Camping is about getting up, getting out there, and knowing what you're made out of. Is that a cliché? Maybe. Only time will tell.