Stepping Out | 5 Essentials for a Camper

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Stepping Out | 5 Essentials for a Camper
August 26, 2022
RxLocal Team

Camping and Hiking Essentials to Make Your Trip a Safe One

Camping out is a healthy way to get a reprieve from the congested, almost mechanical pace of everyday life.

Still, just because you spend a couple of days in the wilderness doesn’t mean should be completely off the grid. The great outdoors, though beautiful, can be very unpredictable.

Before you head out to get some much-needed sunlight, be sure to fill your backpack with the right kind of essentials — ranging from food to gloves. You’ll want to leave no stone unturned as you embark on the great unknown.

1. Don’t Hike Too Close to the Sun

It’s easy to feel like you can conquer anything when camping. The world truly feels like your oyster as you overlook untouched stretches of nature. If you don’t have sunscreen or insect repellent, that high-minded optimism will quickly be rattled by a sunburn or mosquito bites.

Spending prolonged periods of time outdoors without any protection will likely expose you to ultraviolet rays, which can lead to sunburns and certain forms of skin cancer.

Insect repellant is pretty self-explanatory. Not only are bug bites just plain annoying, but they can also give you some gnarly side effects. Spray up, lather up, and you’re set for a worry-free camping trip.

A pair of UV-blocking sunglasses wouldn’t hurt either. Your skin isn’t the only thing that can be affected by UV rays. Extra points if you can get them fitted to your prescription.

Check out of “5 Ways to Keep Your Skin Safe This Summer” blog for more ways to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

2. Bring a First Aid Kit

Nature always comes with surprises. One moment, you’re stumbling upon a paradise of rivers and boundless lakes — the next your tent is being swept away by a surprise thunderstorm. Whatever obstacle comes your way, you’ll need to be prepared.

Your first aid kit should be the first item in your camping inventory. Having one is absolutely essential for safe camping.

What it consists of, however, can depend on you and other fellow campers in your group — certain medications  (prescription or over-the-counter) for certain health conditions, climbing rope if you’re feeling so brave, your brother’s favorite Cliff bar flavor, etc.

Customizable as you make it, however, you should have the following items in your first aid kit:

  • Bandages
  • Gauze pads/wraps
  • Rubbing alcohol for open wounds
  • Disinfecting ointment/wipes
  • Pen and paper

Click here to learn even more about first aid kit essentials.

3. Stay (Somewhat) Plugged In

A digital footprint is impossible to get rid of, and camping out for a few days won’t erase it either. Be sure to at least let a couple of people know about your trip so you can be reached whenever necessary.

Your smartphone can be the only thing separating you from a lifetime of being stranded or coming home safe and sound.

Turn your location services on or at least share your location with a trusted few in case things go south. Also, bring a wireless charger with you since electrical outlets are in short supply out there.

4. Pack the Right Gear (Clothes)

No matter the season or where you’re camping, you will want to pack light. Though you may feel like you’re under packing, remember that camping or hiking naturally puts you in the elements — so don’t fret too much about wearing the same clothes to bed after a multi-mile trek through a forest.

In the summer months, synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are your best friend for their sweat-wicking capabilities. Almost all popular athletic brands sport these materials so getting a few tank tops and shorts shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

The main downside to cotton t-shirts is that they become sticky when coming in contact with moisture like sweat or rainwater, causing general discomfort for you — as if the lack of AC wasn’t bad enough already.

Fall and winter weather require a heavier wardrobe. Many camping enthusiasts recommend wearing a base layer (the layer closest to your skin that acts as a second skin) to provide warmth while also absorbing moisture during your travels.

It’s also essential to pack a warm hat, gloves, and rain mitts. Bring a jacket goes without saying, though bringing both a light and heavy one depending on the time of day wouldn’t hurt either.

Make sure your footwear keeps your feet warm too. Hiking boots and shoes should be readily available at your local department store, maybe even your nearest independent pharmacy.

The key is to have your footwear have little to no insulation. Though you’d want your feet to breathe in the middle of the suffocating summer heat, a chilly winter breeze will give you hypothermia — not good.

Finally, a pack of UV-blocking sunglasses will do you a great deal of good in snowy environments against a little-known ailment called photokeratitis, otherwise known as snow blindness.

Snow blindness occurs when the sun’s rays reflect off of snow and shine directly on your eyes, causing symptoms such as severe eye pain and blurry vision. Pack accordingly to avoid snow blindness.

5. Don’t Camp On an Empty Stomach

Unless you’re planning on hunting and gathering your own food, you’ll need to pack up some food that is dense in calories but small enough to fit in your pocket.

Fresh fruit like apples, bananas, and oranges are great companions to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or beef jerky.

The key is to have your meals be as portable as they are nutritious. Snacks like trail mix, energy bars, dried fruit, crackers, cashews, and almonds are all essential in preventing you from getting too hungry.

Make sure to have a water bottle available at all times during your trip, whether it be your trusty personal bottle or a bulk of 500ml plastic bottles (though not as environmentally friendly as the former).

Depending on where you’re going, you might come across bodies of water. Beautiful as they might be, you don’t truly know where that water came from. It can easily be the source of bacteria and parasites.

If you have access to electricity, the CDC recommends bringing a small electric heating coil or a lightweight beverage warmer to boil the potentially-contaminated water. If you don’t have access to an outlet, bringing a portable water filter should get the job done.

How Will You Camp or Hike the Right Way?

We owe it to ourselves to get away every once in a while. The constant tapping or staring of a computer screen easily puts you in a malaise that can be hard to shake off.

Camping or hiking through a trail or woods can be a surprising source of stress reduction and exercise. To truly enjoy the spoils of mother nature, you need to walk through the woods with both an open mind and a backpack filled with all the right materials.

Camping and hiking the right way — with the right essentials — will give you the peaceful reprieve you deserve so you can take on the months ahead.