Packing for Camping: Not-so-daunting of a task

What are some of your favorite things about camping, or spending an evening outdoors? Make a mental list while you read please. Is it the quietness? Nature? Being able to simplify your life for a few days?

What are some of your least favorite things about camping? Can you think of any?

I can only think of one: Packing.

I guess that's about the worst part of any vacation, long or short. No one wants to forget anything, but you don't want to pack too much either.

Since John and I camp nearly every weekend, and take at least two longer camping vacations a year (this year was Yellowstone and the Ozarks), we have a streamlined process for getting out the door and into the wilderness with ease.

As a precursor, I should disclose that we do own a camper. It's a Jayco 23B, which means it's a 23 foot long hard-sided unit, but the beds are soft-sided and fold down at each end of the camper.

We're lucky enough to have some "closet" room to put our clothes, so we don't pack a bag.

And we also have a small fridge and freezer, as well as a little bit of dry goods storage space.

There is a small gas stove, a portable grill that attaches to the outside of the camper, and a bathroom (which we rarely use).

There is a heater and a finicky air conditioner, but we rarely use either of those. Instead, if it's really cold we have a portable space heater we use (cheaper than using our LP tanks to run the heater!) or open up all of the windows to get a rockin' breeze if the weather is hot.

When we take any vacation, we literally pack only clothing we will need for the trip. Since most of our trips require hiking and biking, most clothing includes t-shirts and shorts. Maybe a hoodie or two, and enough undies and socks for each day. We pack one pair of shoes each, and a pair of shower sandals. We also have rain gear that always stays in the camper in case we have to tear down or set up in the rain.

When it comes to food items, things get a little more complicated because we usually aren't around restaurants or grocery stores to pick up the things we may forget. We have to cook all of our meals over the fire or on the portable grill. So here's what we typically pack for a long weekend:

  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • drink mixes
  • eggs
  • potatoes
  • chopped onions
  • ground beef or brats (from our beef or hog that comes from my parents)
  • a few chicken breasts
  • smoked breakfast sausage or bacon
  • buns (hamburger or brat)
  • condiments (ketchup, mustard, BBQ)
  • tortilla chips and home-canned salsa
  • homemade bread (for pies over the fire)
  • peanut butter (for pies)
  • cheese (brick cheese that we grate)
  • freshly baked cookies
  • butter
  • ice cubes (in a gallon baggie, in case we have a cocktail :) ) 
  • Bloody Mary mix & vodka (I almost always have a Bloody Mary in the mornings while camping. Don't judge!)
  • Frozen or fresh veggies, depending on the season (like peas, corn, green beans, etc.) 
  • any leftovers from the fridge that I want to use up, because they'll be spoiled when we return

Things that always stay in our camper, because we use them regularly are: 
  • silverware
  • plates
  • a skillet 
  • a saucepan
  • a camping toaster
  •  a few utensils
  • serving spoons
  • a grilling utensil set
  • and canned goods like: mushrooms, black olives, home-canned pasta sauce, home-canned jams, home-canned fruits/fruit cocktail

Having a camper definitely makes traveling a breeze. We only have to pack perishable food items and additional location-specific clothing. Owning a camper isn't feasible for everyone, but we found even when tent camping there were ways to make packing easier. For example, when we tent camped, we kept two plastic storage totes in our garage with all of our special camping materials. Doing this allowed us to just "grab-and-go".

Point being: Packing doesn't have to drive you nuts. Just find an organizational method and roll with it.

The end.

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