How to travel with all your camping gear

Careful planning will help you carry all your necessary gear without you feeling like a pack mule.

When heading for a camping trip, there is often a tendency to pack lots of items you might need “just in case”. This can lead to packing unnecessary clothing and other items for a long walk in your backpack. Unless you’re planning to carry extra weight for exercise purposes, it’s best to only pack the essentials.

Here are some tips to help make packing easier for you.

  • Consider your destination and the time of year you are hiking. What will the conditions be? Does it get cold at night? Is the time of year known for bad weather? Is it a hot and humid environment? All of this will determine what tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat you need.
  • There is no sense packing a thick warm sleeping bag if you’re planning to camp in sand dunes by a beach in summer. Likewise if you’re heading into high country, you’ll need appropriate sleeping bag and clothing. Consider also the thickness of your sleeping mat. This can be a personal preference, or may need to be chosen based on the terrain. If you’re driving in to the camp area, you might be able to take a camp bed if that’s your preference.
  • When carrying your camping gear, look for a backpack that has an excellent harness with great comfort and support for you. If you’re buying gear for the first time, the rule is simple – quality over quantity. Good quality gear lasts, and if you’re on the road you’re less likely to be able to replace something if it breaks.
  • Poor quality gear breaks quickly and doesn’t last long. You end up spending more money to replace it, so over time, it costs you more. It’s false economy. You’ll also curse yourself the moment a cheap tent springs a leak in the roof, during its first rain storm. When you’re hiking, a good night’s sleep is essential, so invest in good quality gear to keep yourself strong.
  • Make a list of what you’ll need and then try to cull it. Don’t pack a full cooking kit if it’s only one or two of you travelling. Use lightweight gear as much as possible. Talk with your local camping store for advice if you’re unsure about what to use.
  • Organise your gear in your backpack in the order you will use it. No sense putting your matches at the bottom of your pack, when you need to get the fire started. Waterproof your gear, or carry some plastic bags to do so if needed. Share the load when travelling with others, so you all carry your weight, so to speak.