Is Your Gear Ready? Prepping for Camping

family on queen air matress in the back yard

Getting excited for camping – NO JUMPING!

We love to go camping!  If you’re a regular reader of our blog you’ve probably picked up on this already, given the number of posts we’ve done about camping.  How often we camp depends on a number of things, but we have an annual camping trip with friends that we look forward to all year, and always make.  (One year we even went with 5 month-old twins!)

tent spread out on the grass to air out

Flat tent

Last year after this trip, we realized that a lot of people might find some general guidelines about what to do, or not do, when camping, helpful.  There is one really big one from that list that I’d like to share again: Don’t burn plastic.  Burning plastic lets off toxic chemicals that are bad for people and animals.  These toxins don’t go away.  Most campgrounds have dumpsters for trash, use it.  If the one you are using does not, then plan to take your trash out with you.

Another really important thing to do before camping is to check your gear.  One year we pulled a tent out of it’s bag at the campground and found that it must not have been completely dry when we put it away because it was covered in mold!   That trip my mother-in-law slept in the screen room!  We learned from that lesson and now we always try to take out our tents, screen rooms and sleeping bags and air them out before the trip.   Besides avoiding unpleasant surprises, this also helps to insure that we haven’t forgotten or lost any pieces from year to year.  You should also air out everything after your camping trip when you get home.

deflated air matress

This one has a leak and is self deflating. Glad we have a spare.

The adults in our crowd like to sleep on air mattresses.  Well, they do now that I’ve introduced them to the wonders of air mattresses! I endured rolled eyes the first year, but ever since, they are a staple in our group.  Taking the mattresses out in the yard and blowing them up confirms there aren’t any big holes and that we can find our air pumps! It’s great fun to test them out, but make sure everyone knows, no jumping!

inflated twin air matress on the grass

Check your air mattresses for leaks

I also strongly recommend developing a packing list.  Even if you don’t take much, you don’t want to forget the important things.  We have sections for toiletries, medicines and clothes that are pretty much copied from our regular packing list.  Then we have sections that list what is in the chuck box, general camping gear and a section for food.  Each year we open the previous year’s list and save it with a new name and edit it.  One of the great benefits of keeping the old copies is that when we had our third child, I could just go back to lists from years when the twins were babies and see what I thought I needed then!  It is interesting to see how our “must have” foods change from year to year as well!

One thing I’ve learned about packing lists for annual trips is that at the end of the trip, often during the car ride home, we talk about what we don’t think we should bring next year and delete it.   I also make notes on it for things that I wish I had had, so that I add them for next year.   A good, personalized list makes a trip like this much more relaxed.  We do this for our annual beach week and our annual winter vacation as well.  It takes time to develop the list the first time, but once you have it, it is easy to work with it!

We love to camp and we highly recommend it as a great vacation and a great way to spend quality time with friends and family.

Happy Greening!

What’s your favorite tip for camping?  Tell us!

Other articles in our Greening Your Camping Series:

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  1. I want to be a family that camps! Last year we stayed a few days with friends that have all the equipment, so that made it easy for us. This year I and the baby will be staying with them the whole week and hubbie will join for a few days (he is a rather unwilling camper:-)

    You are so organized! I admire that.

  2. First let me say that I adore your site! I’m so glad that your site was listed in our Meet & Greet!

    We love to go camping and hiking and try to go on a picnic at least twice a month. We are tent campers so during the season we put together a box of essentials which we can just put into the car and we’re off. We include reusable plates, utensils, and cups and things like salt, pepper, olive oil, etc. … things which don’t need refrigeration. We also include games, towels and our camping pots & pans. I’ve found that it’s an easy way to see what needs to be replenished, repaired, etc. I’m going to add a list to the box … that’s a great idea and would make it even easier to remember everything.

    It’s amazing, to me, that anyone would put plastic into a fire but I’ve seen that so many times. It is so toxic. And since those toxins are in the smoke and air as it burns, roasting a hot dog or marshmallow over burning plastic can be very dangerous.

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