Camping Essentials 6

camping essentials

What to Pack for a Big Camping Trip

It’s no lie I’d been counting down for months to our big, seven-day paddling trip that started on June 23, and having been on many camping trips in my day, I thought I’d share what we pack for these kinds of trips and the reasons why.

Now let me backtrack a little for you. Fifteen years ago, if you’d have asked me what camping was like, I would have told you it involved booze, good friends, blow dryers and curling irons, cute outfits to impress nearby boys…. yeah, you’d laugh your pants off. BUT, here’s the but, I met Jeff fifteen years ago and he turned me on to camping and as a result, I felt in love with the beauty all around us, the quiet, the nature, all of that stuff.  Sure, it can be a haul lugging everything in, either car camping or interior, but it’s so worth it once you’re in, settled and there to just soak it all in.  While we haven’t camped much in recent years, favouring travel over camping (and lets face it, less bugs), we are so ready and eager to get going.

camping essentials

So, what do you pack?

Well, that depends on a lot of variables.  Such as:  where are you going? What are the weather conditions going to be like?  What is the terrain like?  How long will you be camping?  Will you be car camping or will you be going interior, paddling further into lakes and away from civilization?  I will try to help you out as much as possible when packing for a 7-day, big, interior paddling trip.  Many and most of the things on my list are adaptable to car camping, you may just need to switch things up slightly.  You’ll see when we get there and what I mean.

camping essentials

For instance, we will be living off of space food for seven days (aka dehydrated meals) but if you’re car camping, there’s no need to be that extreme, because it’s not like you’ve got all this weight to haul in or carry, and you will likely have your car nearby that you can pull your coolers or food bags out of.  With just myself and Jeff going on this camp trip, we don’t have extra hands to carry in, say meat to eat the first night or fresh eggs and bacon.  That would just be way too much weight for us to carry.  Plus, with dehydrated food, there isn’t much mess or clean up.  We are literally eating out of bags instead of producing all this extra, unnecessary waste.

camping lists

We aren’t taking a cooler, so everything we eat will be in a dry bag (which we will still hang from a tree or tie out on the water in the canoe) and every bit of water we drink we will be drawing through filters from the lake.  So while we have plenty to keep ourselves busy, whether it is gathering wood for the fire, making a meal, out in the canoe fetching bottles and bottles of water, or just simply relaxing, it’ll be a good time.


Here is a list of what we packed:

Equipment & Gear:

  • 7 days of freeze-dried/dehydrated meals for each of us and one day of breakfast and lunch only.  Additional food: 12 packets of instant oatmeal, 30x beef jerky, lots of powdered drinks to add to water, like Nuun tablets and grape kool-aid and hot chocolate.  Please keep in mind we decided to go the freeze-dried/dehydrated food route this time around, whereas in the past, we’ve taken a pot set, plates, cups, cutlery… It all depends on what you’re taking to eat and how you’ll make it, so keep that in mind.
  • Big lexan coffee cups that double as bowls.
  • 2 forks, 2 spoons.
  • 2 kilograms of coffee (We took Starbucks Pike Place and we overestimated and came back with maybe 1/8 of that).
  • Powder creamer.  I hate creamer but I hate black coffee even more.
  • An Aeropress and filters.
  • Nalgene bottles for water.  We brought maybe 7 big ones – 2 x 1.5 litre, 4 x 1 litre, 1 x 500 ml, and I had a big flask with a bottle of red wine (Jeff brought me a bottle and dehydrated strawberries to put into it, making it a red wine sangria – voila!
  • A water filtration system.
  • A camp stove and fuel (ours took butane and we took 2 bottles, although three would have been more suitable).
  • A sharp knife.
  • A kettle, although a pot will do for boiling water (Jeff brought his camp kettle he’s has longer than he’s known me).
  • A lantern and fuel to sustain it.
  • Bio-soap.
  • A cloth/sponge/tea towel (to dry dishes).
  • Camp fire starters, for times when it’s wet and soggy and getting a fire started on your own is bleak.
  • Rope.
  • Tarp(s).
  • A tent.
  • Camp chairs.
  • Tree hammock
  • Sleeping bag and mats.
  • Saw, axe and shovel.
  • Toilet paper.
  • First aid kit and tourniquet.
  • GPS unit and maps.
  • Solar chargers x 2.
  • Paddling gloves.
  • Bug spray and sun screen.
  • Advil, Epipen and Benadryl.
  • Rain shoes.
  • Rain gear.
  • Camera and USB charger.
  • Binoculars
  • Camp shower and quick-dry towels.
  • Headlights x 2.
  • Carabiners for clipping all the things to bags and ropes and what not.

Here is a list of things we DID pack, but didn’t need:

  • Our lantern.  We had sufficient light at night with the camp fire and our headlights.  Plus, with a lantern on, we would have attracted all the more bugs, so we nixed even bringing that out our whole trip.  While this might be a comfort item for someone else, for us it was not necessary simply out of personal preference.

Here is a list of a things we’d bring on our next trip that we either didn’t think of, or forgot:

  • Hand sanitzer.
  • An additional can of butane for our camp stove.
  • A collapsible bucket for the fire.  You can never be too cautious or safe with fire.  Forest fires can ignite and spread in seconds and decimate a small area in no time.
  • Collapsible water containers to collect water for the campsite  Sure you can fill bottles one by one like we did, which was no problem.  But it’s nice to have the option to draw more water and have it on site with you then having to go out a couple of times a day in the canoe.

camping essentials

I hope these lists are useful for you in your adventures, just as they were mine.  

Have a great weekend everyone!  Happy 150th Canada Day Weekend and upcoming 4th of July for my American friends!

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