Planning ahead–especially when it comes to camping–makes the trip an enjoyable one. Knowing what experience you want goes a long way toward properly stocking your campground.
“These days, a person doesn’t really need to ‘rough it’ if they don’t want to,” said Michele Orr, director of merchandising for REI, an outdoor adventure retailer.
Below, outdoor enthusiasts and safety experts share some thoughts on what to bring with you before pitching a tent beneath the stars.
Cast Iron Skillet
The cookware that built America. Durable and almost indestructible, cast iron pots and pans clanked behind covered wagons as pioneers ventured west.
“Travelers were always looking for ways to lighten their load to move faster,” said Laura Candler, social media coordinator for Lodge Cast Iron, a Tennessee-based manufacturing company famous for its cast iron cookware. “But–despite their weight–cast iron cookware was never in danger of being tossed to the side of the trail. It was simply too useful.”
A 12-inch skillet can simultaneously cook a breakfast of bacon, potatoes and eggs. For dinner, that same pan can fry up the fish you caught in the lake, river or stream near the camping site. Cobblers, grunts and pineapple upside-down cake are among the classic desserts that can be quickly whipped up in the cookware, Candler said.
Just remember to grab some heat-resistant gloves or potholders. The entire vessel is made out of cast iron, and its handle can and will sear the palm of someone who grabs it absentmindedly.
Insulated Water Bottle
The days of your reusable water bottle sweating from condensation and melting the ice are over. Insulated water bottles continue to gain a foothold in the market as hikers look for a cold drink after a long trek or skiers want a belt of hot chocolate on the chair lift.
“Insulated flasks can retain heat for 12 hours and keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours,” said David Visnack, vice president of marketing and product for Hydro Flask, a company that’s manufactured stainless steel containers since 2009.
Rest Stop Apps
A folded map should always be in the glove box as a backup, but the digital age grants us some truly remarkable innovations for travel.
Consider apps that direct drivers to roadside rest stops and the amenities awaiting them.
While a rest stop may not be your endpoint, a quick stop to snack and stretch your legs can make any road trip more enjoyable.
“An app can tell you things a roadmap can’t, like if the rest stop has showers, vending machines and pet areas,” said Sean Peck of AppAvenger, makers of the Rest Areas app for Android devices.
Peck recommends reading through the ratings to determine if a product is accurate and user-friendly. He also suggests looking at when the product was last updated and—perhaps most importantly–if it can work when the device doesn’t have an internet connection.
Exceptionally important and easily overlooked, fire extinguishers deserve a spot on your packing checklist.
“A fire extinguisher is often a forgotten ‘must have’ item,” said Chris Dieter, senior vice president for H3R Performance, Inc., a fire extinguisher manufacturer in Petalmua, Calif. behind the MaxOut and HalGuard lines.
Wildfires roast forests and destroy campgrounds for years. Bringing along a fire extinguisher provides some insurance.