2-day camping trip tomorrow morning. Camping + Premade Food essentials?
May 28, 2015 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I spontaneously decided to join a friend's 2-day camping trip - I'll be meeting them at the campsite early tomorrow morning. I'm not an avid camper, and don't want to forget anything that might be considered a no-brainer. I'd appreciate advice on any camping essentials I may be forgetting - list of what I'm planning on bringing at the moment is inside. I'd also like advice on ready-to-eat meals or meals which can be easily prepared at the campsite.

I know this is super-short notice, but I'm panicking! I'll be checking the answers from my cell.

We'll be at a campground, so there'll be a fire. My friends are bringing the essentials (tent, etc.) but they advised me to bring food for myself plus whatever will make me comfortable. I'll have ~ one hour tonight to hit my local Wal-Mart/Trader Joe's and grab whatever I might need, then off I go in the early morning. It'll be 70-85 F for the duration of the trip, but it might rain on Saturday.

I currently am in possession of:

1. A cooler.
2. Hygiene essentials (They have showers)
3. Pillow + light blanket
4. LED headlight
5. Shirts/shorts/shoes + sandals.
6. Mixed nuts
7. I might have time to make a PBJ sandwich or three, not sure though.
8. Water. there's a water refilling station where we're camping.
9. Earplugs, headphones
10. A good book
11. Sunscreen, sunglasses

I'm planning on buying:

1. A light sleeping bag. Is this even necessary? It'll be hot! But I don't want my back to be resting on the tent floor...
2. S'mores and hot dogs. Maybe energy bars/trek mix. Could really use some advice on other ready-to-eat food to bring. Again, I'll probably be going to Wal-Mart.
3. I probably should buy a poncho?
4. An ice pack. Or maybe I should just use ice?
5. ...I got nothin.

Please give me suggestions for anything else to bring, food or otherwise. I don't want to overpack since it's only two days overnight, but I also don't want to be begging my friends for anything (although I'm sure they'd share). Thank you!
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
bring some cortisone cream and also antihistamine in case of bug bites/allergies etc.,
lip balm!
a hat
posted by supermedusa at 3:42 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. Get a pad over a sleeping bag, if you can buy only one. But as learned while camping in a snowstorm last week at the Grand Canyon, there is no such thing as too many blankets. If you're hot, lay on top of them. :-)

2. I like bagels or oatmeal and OJ for breakfast. Hashbrowns and sausage are good, too. Just need a pan/griddle. Lunchmeat/bread/mayo for sandwiches. Whatever you like for dinner - I like steaks, my wife like chicken breasts. Anything easy to prepare and heat up will work just fine.

3. Rain gear can make you less miserable. I wouldn't bother, but it's not a terrible idea.

4. If you don't have an ice pack, don't sweat it. Just ice will work fine. In the future, freeze a couple jugs of fresh water for ice packs. If you're hauling all that weight, it might as well be drinkable.

5. Bug spray. A flashlight. Lots of ziplocks for things in the cooler. Beer. Lots of beer. And a gallon or two of water.

posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:43 PM on May 28, 2015 [8 favorites]

Freeze a decent steak or some hamburgers to eat. Or chicken breast. By the time they defrost in the cooler, it's dinner time! It's great to have real food when camping, and bringing frozen meat or poultry is one way to do that.

Some kind of pre-made coffee? Suger packets?

You'll need something to insulate you from the ground, which can be goddamn cold and uncomfortable even in the summer. See if you can borrow something from a more adventurous friend. Or maybe try a super cheap blow up pool mattress? Yes, you should invest in a sleeping bag. Do some research about fill types and brands - you want the best cheapest bag possible.

Do you have an exercise mat that is long enough to sleep on?

Marshmellows. Hot chocolate. I'm pretty sure it's not camping w/out both of these items.

I would bring a small container of half-n-half, frozen, too. For coffee or hot chocolate, watered down for cereal, or not watered down if you need the calories for hiking.


Applying duct tape to spots feeling the friction will entirely prevent blisters if you do it at the first sign of chaffing.
posted by jbenben at 3:45 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Water expands when you freeze it, so let some water out of water bottles before freezing them!
posted by jbenben at 3:47 PM on May 28, 2015

You don't need a sleeping bag for hot camping, get a folding cot and take one of your top sheets in case you need a light cover. The cot allows airflow, it's massively more comfortable. (Don't forget a folding chair also.) But if you don't get a cot, get a proper sleeping pad. Sleeping on the floor of the tent = sleeping on a pile of rocks on a shower curtain. Not comfortable. In all my Texas camping years, a cot and a sheet were my best buddies, and the cot can serve as an emergency guest bed at home in the future.

If you don't mind spicy food, Tasty Bite Indian pouch meals are really good, can be eaten cold or warmed up in hot water. I like the lentils and the palak paneer best, but they're all good. Serve with store naan. You can also take a couple cans of spaghettios or whatever, to heat up in a pan. Or buy a giant sub sandwich, or sandwich makings, and keep it in the cooler. That and a box of granola bars and some nuts will hold you for a day and a half. Don't get crazy trying to make homemade meals, just eat food.

You don't need a poncho unless it's going to rain. Don't go if it's going to rain, it's the grossest.

Bring a reusable sports bottle or sippy cup or something to drink out of.

Bug spray.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:47 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

More important than a sleeping bag is a sleeping pad. Even a $10–$15 foam pad will do better than a sleeping bag or blanket at cushioning/insulating you from the ground.

Also, make sure to consider the overnight low temperature when choosing a sleeping bag. Compared to indoors, the temperature in a tent will be much quicker to match the outside temperature. If the low is in the 60s (°F) or below, then a light sleeping bag might be a good idea. If it's higher, then you're probably fine without one. Similarly, you might want a few warmer clothes just for when you first get up in the morning, before it warms up outside.

Pack extra flashlight batteries.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:51 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

REI has a good camping checklist. TJ's has great dried fruit and nuts; I second the Indian food packets, as well as pita/salami/cheese/hummus for sandwiches. Instant oatmeal for breakfasts and sweet and/or crunchy stuff to snack on -- you'll probably be hungrier than you are in your day-to-day life.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 3:56 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you are near virtually any outdoor equipment store, for instance an REI, note that they rent camping equipment. Sleeping bags, pads, stoves, etc. Might be tough on short notice but worth checking to minimize cost. Also if you are going somewhere local the staff may be a great resource for needs specific to the sight.

A sleeping pad if cool at night or cot if warm will make all the difference in the world. On that note, if you are car-camping bring a pillow. I've seen too many people turned off to camping because they think you have to rough-it from the start.

Allow yourself a few luxuries.
posted by pipoquinha at 4:02 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing Indian instant meals if you want something quick and easy with the added bonus of being something you can take home with you can keep indefinitely if other campers end up feeding you. Jerky is also good for this.

A hat with a wide brim to help prevent sunburn.

Some form of caffeine if you're used to getting it on a daily basis.

Wet wipes and hand sanitizer for the tent.

I like to have a quality multitool with me for camping.

Quart ziplocks and aluminum foil can be useful for a variety of things.
posted by Candleman at 4:08 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't forget to bring a bowl or plate and some utensils. I would get a foam pad to sleep on; a cot would not fit in most of the tents I've slept in.
posted by carolr at 4:12 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh and a folding camp chair - especially for sitting around the fire at night. Preferably one with built in cup holders. Sigh. Now I wish I was going camping! Have a blast.
posted by pipoquinha at 4:13 PM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

You don't necessarily need a sleeping bag (at least for warmth), but you might find the ground quite hard, so unless you like that,you'll want something soft underneath. Grab a cheap yoga mat (or two), or a camping mattress pad, whichever is cheaper. This will also help keep you dry at night if the floor of the tent gets wet.

Sometimes all you need during the day is a swimsuit.

Bring a warm fleece sweater. Just in case.

Any food that just needs boiled water: instant oatmeal, ramen noodles, some mac&cheeses, pasta side dishes, tea or instant coffee.

Food that required no prep: Energy/oatmeal bars are great. Pepperoni sticks/jerky. I love me some kielbasa for camping too.

Hotdogs and bread/buns are great.

Speaking of which, what are you going to eat with? Bring a small pot or two for boiling water and eating out of (either regular or a camping set). Just realize that pots used over open fires get blackened. Bring a paring knife, a large spoon, and a fork. Bring a mug for your tea or coffee.

Bring some large garbage bags and duct tape. Use these to make anything you've forgotten.

Your phone/camera. "Take nothing but pictures…" remember?
posted by Kabanos at 4:13 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Tuna Salad and Crackers we no longer camp with a cooler. Much easier.
posted by notned at 4:17 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have pretty much never regretted having a Camelbak type backpack in hot weather outdoor situations.

You won't regret having a cheap poncho if you end up needing one, but large garbage bags pretty much work just as well and you should have some with you anyway.

Depending on where you are, you might want to bring some firewood. It can be hard to come by and you rarely regret having a little left over while it's easy to run out.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2015

Ok. I swear I'll stop now but this is a subject I am passionate about: one of those cheap plastic cutting boards to keep things just a bit cleaner when cooking, a coffee press (assuming pot and stove and cup), a good knife, bottle opener, a handful of cloth napkins, matches, plastic bags, everything listed above and a good warm hat for nighttime.
posted by pipoquinha at 5:05 PM on May 28, 2015

Think about what kind of easy-to-slip-on-and-kick-off footwear you want to wear around the campsite... and to the toilets in the middle of the night... and while showering...like flip flops.

A small plastic bucket with a handle to carry your shampoo, soap, comb, etc to the bath house.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:06 PM on May 28, 2015

Best answer: If you want to be a minor rock star, pick up one of those plastic bottles of iced coffee (in the dairy section, I get the Starbucks plain ones but they have foofy caramel sugaratto whatever if your friends roll that way), and the smallest box of MiniMoos and thing of sugar packets, because if you just want caffeine in your face in the morning and it's not cold out, it's nice to just be able to do that without a giant production. Nobody will kick you out for a similar bottle of iced tea.

One bottle will serve 4 normal people or 2-3 iced coffee fiends.

Also grab one of those deli clamshells of cookies, chocolate chip or whatever. They will get eaten.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:25 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: speaking of toilets bring a spare roll or two of tp, just to be safe
posted by supermedusa at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's a short trip, so you'll be fine.

I love having a fancy hard salami and crackers when hanging out by a fire.

Starbucks Via is actually a great instant coffee. I quit bringing coffee making stuff because it's so good. ( Note: it's way smoother than actual Starbucks coffee)

The folks who say get a sleeping pad are on the right track.

A headlamp is awesome. Walmart has decent cheap little LED ones. Makes walking around camp much easier.
posted by advicepig at 6:27 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

Mini-moos, off mosquito wipes, handwarmer packets (just because), warm hat (5AM is not a toasty part of the 'day'), firestarter cubes/water proof matches, Marmot 'precip' top and bottoms (cheap and tough), decent bag, add a tent; you could be the outdoors for a week+ and be fine. Xtra meds if you are on them.
posted by buzzman at 9:01 PM on May 28, 2015

Best answer: The two things I have to have when camping and am miserable without: a sleeping pad and a headlamp.

Things that drastically increase comfort & happiness: wet wipes and lip balm.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:35 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I third the folding chair as an absolute essential. It's a major faux pas to show up at a campfire without a chair, when everyone else has their own. You can get one for $10 at Target or such.
posted by smackfu at 5:57 AM on May 29, 2015

For an easy dinner, I would browse the aisles of any good supermarket for the boxes of rice mixes, pilafs, etc. (Check for any additional ingredient requirements). You should be able to find something tasty that doesn't require more than add water and cook for a while.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:21 AM on May 29, 2015

Response by poster: Had a great time, everybody! Thanks so much. I wouldn't have brought a folding chair if I hadn't checked this...
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 6:30 AM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

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