Little luxuries to make tent camping fun
August 1, 2015 2:21 PM   Subscribe

What are the best little luxuries that you use to stay sane and feel great while tent camping?

I'm going tent camping soon. Food is provided to the whole group at camp, but we will sleep in tents and be without electricity or phone service for over a week. I am *not* a camping person. Food is provided at camp, but we are supposed to bring snacks, tents, etc.

What should I bring to stay sane while I'm there? What little luxuries will make the trip much more enjoyable?
posted by 3491again to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (55 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
If there is any possibility you will get rained on and temps will be chilly at night: Clothes and bedding that will keep you warm even when wet, such as flannel sheets and anything made of wool.

If you are willing to lay out a little dough, you might consider taking some means to provide your own electricity and take a smart phone or tablet loaded with things of interest to you even without Internet access. There are products aimed at campers that create electricity from fire or from the kinetic motion of walking. A smart phone or tablet with a little charge and loaded up with things like games and videos and writing apps can give you something to do in your tent at night so you do not just lay there bored out of your mind. Keep the phone/tablet in a Ziploc bag to protect it from the elements.

Ziploc bags can be enormously handy for storing things, organizing bags, protecting items from the damp, holding leftover food without being visited by every ant in the area, etc.
posted by Michele in California at 2:30 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

A cotton sleeping bag liner. It's the equivalent of sheets for a sleeping bag. Instantly makes you feel a little more human.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm usually a camping minimalist, but when I car-tent camp, the biggest luxury is something comfortable to sleep on, like a nice camping pad. If you're camping at a camp site, usually the spots are really packed down, and the ground can be pretty hard. That often leads to a poor night's sleep, sore back and hips, and general disgruntlement the next day. Honestly though, the best camping thing I ever did for myself was switch the tent camping for a camping hammock - way more comfortable and so much fun.

My other favorite camping luxury is a French Press.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]

- do not skimp on your sleeping pad
- a ziploc with the dry socks
- tabasco
- headlamp AND flashlight
- personal towel
- this knife
- deet repellent
- a warm hat, no matter the season
posted by j_curiouser at 2:37 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Air bed, duvet, pillow. A head torch. If you'll have access to boiling water and you like decent coffee, an Aeropress is the best way to make coffee in a field. A camp chair if there won't already be plenty of chairs.

Huge fluffy socks for wearing in bed.

Decent whisky and some good dark chocolate. Enough to share with other people.

Shoes that go on and off easily for when you are in and out of your tent.
posted by emilyw at 2:42 PM on August 1, 2015 [18 favorites]

- LED tea lights for some safe, non-flamey low-level lighting. Great for marking the outside of the door of your tent so you can find it after dark or, once in the tent, finding your way into your sleeping bag without using a blinding flashlight or lantern.

- Bug spray, of course. But if the bugs are merely a little annoying vs surrounding you in a cloud, mouthwash in a spray bottle works well and had the nice side benefit of not giving your partner a mouthful of chemicals during tent shenanigans.

- Battery-powered fan if you'll be somewhere hot.
posted by _Mona_ at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Baby wipes.
posted by jojobobo at 2:51 PM on August 1, 2015 [19 favorites]

Space blankets or cardboard or newspaper to go under your camp pad or air mattress to insulate you from the ground. The ground is surprisingly cold even in summer.

You favorite pillow w/ a clean pillow case. Nthing sleeping bag liner.
posted by jbenben at 2:53 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

yep, Baby Wipes+1
posted by j_curiouser at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2015

7th Generation unscented baby wipes

a solar shower

a couple sets of battery powered or solar powered x-mas lights

some card games like this or this


chewing gum


a headlamp that can adjust as a reading light
posted by bobdow at 3:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The alternative to the LED tea lights is solar powered LED fairy lights that you can festoon about your entrance. You will be the envy of all your fellow campers who can't find their tents (plus there's only one off switch to find when you're going to bed).

Also, if this is a crowd who may in any way be disposed to late night partying or (omg) 3am drum circles, or who have small children or ukuleles, EAR PLUGS.
posted by emilyw at 3:08 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

Inflatable Solar Charged Lantern

It's wonderful.
posted by saul wright at 3:09 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Toilet paper
witch hazel and cotton pads or puffs (good for scrapes, bug bites, skin inflammation)
a good hat with removable mosquito netting
bottled water
a deck of cards
bug spray or lotion
a tarp you can suspend over your tent (make sure it has a peak and sloping sides)
headache meds
a campfire coffee percolator
a good sleeping setup (camping cot or pad)
snacks dumped into ziploc bags
solid bar shampoo that doubles as soap kept in a ziploc
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:10 PM on August 1, 2015

If you are going somewhere buggy, I highly recommend using permethrin clothing spray - you apply it to clothing, your tent, etc. in advance of the trip and let it dry - it lasts for months and really works. It is NOT for skin. Don't forget to spray your hat. Available from Amazon, REI, etc.

If have a an e-ink reader (e.g. Kindle), I'd bring it loaded with some fun books - the batteries last a long time with the wireless turned off and it's nice for reading at night without a flashlight.

If you'll be doing much hiking, for sure break in your hiking boots ahead of time, and bring some moleskin for any blisters you get anyway.
posted by unsub at 3:13 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

If it's going to be cold, 2-3 yards of fleece as a blanket layer inside my sleeping bag.
If it's going to be hot, a spray bottle for misting yourself. Bonus points if it's one of those with the little fans that move as you squirt it.
If it's going to rain, a tarp big enough to go under and wrap all the way over the tent and drape. I'll happily camp for days with it pouring with this, because then my bed and stuff stays DRY.
posted by stormyteal at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2015

A large screw-top container (tin or plastic) for snacks, toothpaste, and other scented stuff that's in your tent. Lying awake listening to mice is no fun! (Follow all rules though - if they say no food in tents, etc...)

A headlamp and some really great novels (puzzles, journal, colouring books).

A beanie you can sleep in - makes a big difference in how warm you feel!

A bathmat or something at your tent entrance, so you can step out of your
Tent in your socks (to put shoes on, stretch, assess weather) without getting your socks dirty.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:17 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Given what it costs, this is not really a little luxury. But it sure is comfy.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:23 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Car camping or backpacking? Will you have running, potable water? Will you have access to toilets, sinks, showers?

If car camping with a bathroom: all the things you need for a real hot shower, a great pillow, 2-3 changes of shoes, clean socks everyday, books to read, a french press, a hairbrush.

If backpacking: baby wipes, a little portable french press, a pack of cards, a pair of flip flops, a little journal.
posted by amaire at 3:25 PM on August 1, 2015

switch the tent camping for a camping hammock

Seconded. Infinitely preferable to sleeping in a tent, unless you're likely to get cold at night.

If you're into fancy coffee, a moka pot works well on ordinary camp stoves. You will want a headlamp. Some of the other suggestions here may or may not make sense depending on whether or not you're going to have to carry all your gear any kind of long distance.
posted by sfenders at 3:30 PM on August 1, 2015

you mention bringing your own tent and not being a camping person - i assume this means you have no tent (yet) - don't borrow someone elses's old tent! I did this the very first time I went camping with a group of people and the thing was not only old ( = leaky) but also a pain in the butt to set up. The following year I spent a surprising amount of money for a pop-up style tent and had and have no regrets! Not only will you be able to set it up without help (if you practice at home first) but also be able to to take it down on your own, and so make you independent. Seconding the tarp - place it underneath your tent, to keep off the mud, again very useful when pcking, and bring something like a straw mat or similar cheap and thin mat so you do not need to step straight from the mud into the tent and can take off your shoes outside the tent.
posted by 15L06 at 3:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

and yes, definitely bring a good sleeping pad and good sleeping bag. I used an airbed, as we drove by car so weight made no difference. what will be a good sleeping bag will depend very much on the climate of the area you camp in.
posted by 15L06 at 3:42 PM on August 1, 2015

Are you hiking in or is this "park the car 200 yards away from the tent" camping? I only ever do the later, so keep that in mind as I don't travel light:

I always bring straw beach mats for the floor of the tent. They capture dust/dirt, sifting down their weave away from your feet so you never have that gritty feel underfoot (dust gets in no matter how diligent you are about keeping shoes outside), it just feels nicer than stepping on the plastic floor of the tent and you can take them outside to shake clean if you have a housekeeping fail.

I'm a big fan of inflatable mattresses, so much more comfy than any camping mattress pad I've tried. They come with battery operated air pumps!

A small end table sized appropriately for your camp chair. Most camp chairs have built-in cup holders but that still leaves you holding your plate and other items (camera) that you don't want to set down on the ground, especially as campgrounds are always either covered in mud or covered in dirt the consistency of sifted flour.

A sun shower along with clothes line, clothes pins and a sheet to rig up a shower stall.

Headlamp. You will look like a dork but you'll be the dork who isn't tripping over exposed roots on the way back from the toilet.

Related, your own roll of TP, in the brand you favor and some moist towelettes. Happy butt = happy camper.
posted by jamaro at 4:12 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dental floss.
posted by dws at 4:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

To make a tent more livable: put a welcome mat or piece of astro turf in front for foot wiping and for stepping onto when you are leaving the tent. Put a cheap camp stool outside for sitting on when adding or subtracting shoes from your person. Put a stool inside for sitting on when dressing, resting, or leveraging yourself up off the floor.

The mat can ride incognito as a floor mat in the car and the stools don't take up much room and are completely worth it.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:48 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Full disclosure: I am a glamper on the West Coast.

I did go out last week with the whole setup so that I had a good baseline for documentation, and I need to put it up in github so that I remember where it is, so this is recent advice.

I have one of the (now sadly discontinued) Columbia Cougar Flats II tents. This will fit 4 queensized airmattresses. I usually do 2 queen sized air mattresses, but this also has a gear loft, cup holders, the whole thing. Next time, I'm upping the glamping factor with memory foam mattress toppers from Ikea because the air mattresses are cold. Wool or fleece blankets would probably suffice.

I also have a minus 20 degree bag that I will bring out all year long, I don't care. The idea of cotton sleeping bag liner is sound.

I'd suggest:
  • baby wipes that you've poured a bottle of witch hazel into, great for getting the sticky/stinky off
  • some of the starbucks 'nescafe' stuff if you like coffee but don't want to go the route of the aeropress
  • a run to Trader Joe's for all of their fun dried fruit. The baby dried pineapple++
  • Dr Bronner's soap of whatever flavor you'd like, it works really well for camping enviroment. Don't use it as shampoo. You won't like it.
  • Your favorite pillow! You're going to hate yourself after a few nights without it.
  • My favorite headlamp
  • Bring along an extra flashlight because you never know.

Good luck!
posted by msamye at 4:49 PM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]

I swear by silk sleeping bag liners. Mine has lasted for years-- is both breathable and warm, and I use it when I'm staying at sketchy hotels instead of the sheets.

Also, either bring a small pillow or a camping pillowcase which you can stuff with clothing.

Silk long underwear is like the silk bag liner-- it won't make you die in the heat, but will also keep you warm at night.

Nthing headlamp headlamp headlamp-- you can use it in your tent to read and you can get to the toilets without tripping. iPhone flashlight lamp is not good enough.

Something to sit on near the flap of your tent-- you can just use a square cut of foam mat-- I have a fancy REI blow up one, but that's my little luxury. :)

Bring the right sleeping bag-- really look at the temperature rating and what temperature you expect. If you bring a bag which can handle -15 and you're doing summer camping you will not be able to sleep in your bag. And it's even worse the other way around.

I bring small snacks to eat as a private pleasure in my tent before I get up and face other humans. But I'm an introvert.

Have fun!
posted by frumiousb at 5:18 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you don't have an air mattress, I've found the cushions from my deck chaise longue actually work really well as impromptu camping mattresses. Way more comfy than my sleeping pad. Seconding earplugs, and I'd add an eye mask and melatonin or sleep aid of your choice. There is not much more miserable than being cold, damp, and awake while everyone else sleeps around you, except for the annoying guitarist two sites over who won't stop playing, and the noisy couple next door.
posted by instamatic at 5:46 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Bring something good to read.
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you are going to TTITD, which it seems like you might be given the timing, I recommend a lot of ground cushioning. Also a small battery fan for when it gets hot in the morning. Also lights or a battery lantern for insife your tent. Also blankets in case it gets cold.
posted by mai at 6:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also ear plugs.
posted by mai at 6:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you are going to the desert, bring a shade structure or tarp to go over your tent to provide sun protection. Otherwise you will be miserable.
posted by Vaike at 7:04 PM on August 1, 2015

Several folks have mentioned ear plugs. These are great even if you do not have noisy neighbors--unfamiliar sounds, even natural ones, may be distracting when you are trying to sleep. Flip flops have also been mentioned--convenient for nighttime runs to the facilities and cheap plastic are best as the showers will probably be nasty with spiders.

As far as luxuries, perhaps airplane bottles of something tasty to add to late night hot chocolate around the fire. We prefer s'moreos to s'mores.
posted by Morrigan at 7:41 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like to read in bed, headlamp works. I have some small strings of little led lights that are festive, and handy in the tent if I'm rummaging for something. A small led light left on makes it easy to find your tent at night. Bring extra batteries. And books, of course. I use my soft-sided luggage to sit up against.

A tent you can stand up in is pleasant.

Bring matches and a corkscrew; people forget them.

It's not safe to have candles in a tent.

A week? I'd bring beer, bourbon, excellent chocolate, and some comfort food, for me that would be dried apricots and almonds.

If there is no shower, a spray bottle is a nice aid to washing.

You can get solar chargers for a mobile phone and have music. An added speaker might be fun.

I really like singing around a camp fire, consider bringing lyrics, maybe on a smartphone.
posted by theora55 at 8:03 PM on August 1, 2015

A high end air mattress and the right sleeping bag for your climate.
A coleman lighted tent fan. You hang it from the tent ceiling and it provides light at night and circulates the air during the day.
A really awesome book.
Rain gear.
Waterproof bags to keep your belongings in in case your tent leaks.
Unscented baby wipes to keep the filth and stink to a minimum.
An extra toothbrush for when your main one falls into something.
Extra toilet paper in a ziplock bag. Even if it is supposed to be provided for you, after a muggy night, anything that has been left out will be gross and unusable.
A hammock. If nothing else, bring a hammock.
More underwear than outerwear. After day two, freshness only matters in a few special places (bring talcum powder for said places).
Chocolate because everything is more tolerable with chocolate.
And finally, an infinite amount of glow sticks to throw at the children after dusk so that you can have some peace while still being able to locate them from a reasonable distance.

Try out your tent for at least one night before you commit to it for a week. I managed to buy a tent that had window flaps that closed from the outside, meaning that I had to get up in the middle of the night and go outside to close my windows once the temperature dropped. I bought a better tent after that.
posted by myselfasme at 8:16 PM on August 1, 2015

I don't think I saw this...


It's the best first-aid/fix-it/reinforcement/do-everything item you will need.
posted by jbenben at 8:18 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

For snacks: Oreos dipped in peanut butter. Heavenly!
Also, buy two bags of M&Ms -- one to share and one to keep to yourself. I hauled out a community bag of M&Ms on Day 5 of a hiking trip once and suddenly I was everyone's best friend.
posted by mochapickle at 9:10 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

> Inflatable Solar Charged Lantern

It's wonderful.

YES! These lights are awesome.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:34 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh to follow up on jbenben's suggestion of duct tape - if you don't want to bring a whole big roll, you can create a small roll for yourself on a cardboard tube (e.g. from a roll of toilet paper or (cut down) wrapping paper). Works best with a second person - one holding the new roll and one the existing one. A few yards should be plenty.
posted by unsub at 9:37 PM on August 1, 2015

Beware of air mattresses, they can be very comfy but if that is your only mattress you will have unhappy nights if it develops a leak. At least bring a foam pad as well.

Even if there is supposed to be toilet paper, fold up some of your own into a ziploc to keep handy.

Put together a kit with all your less often used toiletries that you might not normally bring for a week trip. You won't be able to just run to the store and buy them. If you get periods be aware that camping can throw the timing off.

You'd probably get more useful advice if you say something more about your camping situation. Camping on a beach will be different than in the woods, and a group retreat will be a different situation than a festival.
posted by yohko at 11:47 PM on August 1, 2015

Lavender (night) and tea tree (stings) essential oils
Another vote for silk sleeping bag liner
Hozuki light
posted by tardigrade at 12:12 AM on August 2, 2015

Food: tea in bags of the best quality you can find, that you personally enjoy. Small, light, transports very easily, and a nice thing to share if someone else has similar tastes.
posted by amtho at 2:06 AM on August 2, 2015

I'd recommend one of those excellent lanterns and some good writing/drawing paper and pens and pencils so you can scribble away to your heart's content.

And definitely, definitely bring something super comfortable to sleep on.
posted by h00py at 3:24 AM on August 2, 2015

A broom. Sweep out the tent at least daily and more often if you like. It only takes a minute and it makes a huge difference.
posted by janey47 at 3:58 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some people might see this as wasteful or ridiculous, but after a lot of misery and failure i've settled on buying the cheapest walmart or big 5 air mattress before every big trip, or at least every season.

Yes, i've had nice ones. I've also had shitty ones. They never ever quite pack up correctly and always become leaky after at the longest, a year no matter how good they were. Air mattresses only last a long time if you're keeping them inside a house. I vowed to never wake up on a half deflated or flat air mattress again, and just give away the previous ones after a few trips or one major(as in, >5 days or so) trip.

My sanity is just worth $15-25 to me, i guess.

Everything else is fungible, and what i'd bring would depend on the trip. But unless i'm either sleeping in a vehicle, a hammock, or on a bed i'm buying a brand new freaking air mattress for a 5 day trip.

Never. Again.

A couple friends have those self-puffing sleep mats. One of the had a really pricy super high tech one. It was pretty comfortable, and less irritatingly bouncy and such... but it also cost as much as like ten of the cheapest walmart air mattresses. So i decided to stick to my disposable-mattress system.
posted by emptythought at 4:12 AM on August 2, 2015

If your tent will accommodate one, forget the sleeping pads entirely and go wth a folding cot. Mine collapses down like a stadium chair, and has completely changed my relationship to the annual family camping trip.
posted by apparently at 4:26 AM on August 2, 2015

If you're going anywhere sunny/hot sun lotion, hats, a sarong type thing that works both as something between you and ground to sit on, something you can wrap around various parts of you and drape over any parts you want to protect from the sun. You can rinse it and it dries quickly as well. Also, microfibre towels, they dry quickly and take next to no space. A few cloth pegs or something to attach drying items to bits of your tent that can take it. Sweets that won't melt or be rendered useless in other ways by heat. Tent with good air vents.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:38 AM on August 2, 2015

I'm also a big fan of a cot. Gets you up out of the damp and bugs, plus you can stash stuff under it. My other big fave, however I know lots of folks don't wear watches anymore, is an Timex Indiglo watch. You can tell time at night! Depending on your bathroom facilities: Chlorox wipes to clean up porta-potties, baby wipes to freshen up and clean your hands if there's not running water, and a flashlight on a cord or head lamp for night time visits to the potty. The usuals for me: bug spray, sunscreen, asprin, benadryl, Tums, peanut M&M's, Gold Bond or Anti-Monkey Butt powder, something good to read. Have Fun!!
posted by PJMoore at 7:48 AM on August 2, 2015

Bungie cords!

Main reason: It's the easiest way to set up a rain/sun roof over your camping ground and tent. Get the kind of tarp that has grommets, hook the cords to the grommets and then loop/hook to nearby trees or branches, and you are good to go. The elastic tension keeps the tarp taut without being rigid - so much easier to wrangle than ropes or clothesline. Make sure you do it a slight angle so the rain will run off. It's good to get a variety of lengths as well.
posted by jammy at 8:33 AM on August 2, 2015

Nthing a lot of things from above plus a few other things:
--really comfortable sleeping pad (I personally prefer a good self inflating sleeping pad to air mattresses because the mattress feels like sleeping on top of a bubble to me. FYI most sleeping pads will inflate a certain amount on their own but feel better if you blow them up a bit more with your mouth)
--real pillow
-- cushion for sitting on the ground or hard picnic table benches (I have an inflatable thermarest version which folds up small),
--snacks and booze, I like a flask of something and a bottle of wine. Don't skimp on the snacks: you will be hungry, have time to kill, and people to share with. At least for me, special snacks are soothing and keep my spirits up which is nice if you're outside your usual routine.
--deck of cards AND bananagrams
--if you care about coffee and don't trust what they will be serving, bring your own set up. My preference: whisperlite camp stove and small pot to boil water plus French press, you can also use a Moka pot type espresso maker on a camp stove
--enough comfortable lounge wear for hanging out in the morning and evening. Exactly what you bring will depend on the temps where you are but I usually feel like I want to be covered up at least in a light layer: Soft pants, long sleeve shirt, or soft button up to throw on, fleece if needed, and slippers or flip flops.
--if it will be cool, a fleece blanket for wrapping up in at the campfire or when you get out of your tent in the morning, or for laying on the ground to take a break, folding up for a cushion, etc.
--eye drops
--permission to chill out, nap, or lay down instead of going on every possible hike or activity your group has planned
posted by dahliachewswell at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thirding that good coffee makes a big difference. I do a makeshift Chemex with a funnel and a mason jar (with the Chemex filters.)

If you are attending TTITD (which I also inferred based on the description of your camp) I'd get a good pair of goggles as well and bring lots of good jerky and a big ass jar of pickles, you'll be craving salt like you won't believe. Nothing is more delicious than jerky and pickles at TTITD (except the beer you wash it down with.)
posted by GastrocNemesis at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2015

Benadryl, both in cream form for bug bites and in pill form for falling asleep.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:28 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cheap mini-broom/brush and dustpan (to get sand/dirt out of the tent).
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2015

So, all of these may sound like a no-brainer.

If you have the loot, upgrading what you sleep *on* is more important than what you sleep *in*. A cheap sleeping bag is fine. Nothing under it is not, as you'll have a miserable time. Either a cot or a luxe sleeping pad are awesome, with a possible backup of an air mattress you had around anyways. The problem with an air mattress is if it gets cold, so will you; it will suck the heat out, which, bah. For "sleeping pad", I'm thinking of something made by the Therm-a-rest company, but several layers of blankets might work well enough anyways.

Light. Being stuck in the dark sucks. For a tent, they make these things sold as "UFO lights", they're maybe $4 at Walmart, and also cheap online. You can hang them in the tent, and have a bright chandelier. Also, a headlamp is wonderful; I wear one around my neck most of the time at night when camping, so it's never lost, and never shines in anyone else's eyes. A Petzl Tikka 2 is about $30; you don't need super fancy. I'd consider both of these lights - $35 - to be the best possible cheaper upgrade.

Seating. I love having something softer to sit on. A $7 outdoor throw pillow from Target works just fine.

Coffee. I take a french press with me, which makes coffee easy, and I already own this.

Booze. When I have a lot of time free, and very little to do but hang out with friends, a ritzy bottle of booze goes a long way. Or at least an evening.

(Scrolls up) TTITD?

Dang. You're going to want goggles, a bandanna as a dust mask, quite a bit of sunblock, and probably some baby wipes to clean off some of the dust from time to time. For the day, you'll want some way to conveniently carry a good bit of water. You'll want more than one pair of shoes, so you can swap them and not blister your feet. Take two dozen pairs of foam earplugs, pass them out to friends, and that'll help sleep in the morning if you're stuck near a sound camp. Also take an extra cheap bedsheet. Toss it over *everything* in your tent when you leave for the day. When you come back, pull it out of the tent, shake off the dust, and go in. The dust will make it into *almost* any sort of tent you can afford, so covering everything over at least lets you remove some of that dust. I've also had good luck with a camping fan that ran on D batteries, it helps. Importantly: take a bicycle taillight or other similar blinking light. If you have one, it's safe to walk around on the open desert at night. If you don't, you may get nailed by someone on a bicycle or in an art car with it's lights off, which will suck a lot. (Take a taillight.)

Finally? At least 1.5 gallons of water per day you expect to be there. Many years, you won't come close to drinking half of it. Really hot years, you will drink most of it, or you will drop from dehydration, which can ruin an afternoon.

You may want to re-ask your question, or edit it to specifically call out *that* event, if that's where you're going, as it's certainly different than most.
posted by talldean at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hate those airmattresses for the reason talldean explains: they wick away your body heat, so they're FREEZING. If you get one of those, you need a blanket or sleeping bag under you, even in the summer. Therm-a-Rests don't have that problem, they're way less bulky and heavy, they inflate mostly by themselves, and they're really comfortable, even the little light backpacking ones. They rule.

I love the idea about swanky booze.

The best suggestion in this entire thread is dental floss, not because of oral hygiene but because you can get something stuck in your teeth and not have floss at home where you have a hot shower and HVAC and a comfy bed and electric lights everywhere and lots of distractors plus could easily make a run for floss any time if it got too annoying but if you get something in your teeth and you're a million miles from anywhere sleeping in a tent, the problem of flosslessness becomes your whole world. You'd better drink your whole bottle of swanky booze yourself at that point and just hope somebody calls a helicopter to medivac you out of there before the little piece of pineapple or steak or whatever it is drives you permanently out of your mind.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:03 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

A good camp chair is necessary for car camping, and a packable hammock can be a nice touch for lounging during the day. They're cool/cold to sleep in though, so I wouldn't sleep in one unless it's very warm out.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:59 AM on August 4, 2015

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