When In Doubt

We’ve all been there before. You’re getting your camping equipment and outdoor gear ready for a weekend in the woods. Maybe you’re car camping, or maybe you’re hitting the trail for an overnight backpacking trip. As you write out your camping pack list, or you start collecting your gear, you’re faced with some uncertainty.

Do I take my lightweight 30 degree sleeping bag, or do I take my heavier 15 degree sleeping bag? Should I bring a hammock or a tent? Should I wear my hiking boots or trail runners? Do I need to pack extra warm layers? What should I bring camping?

Ultimately, nobody but yourself can answer these questions. The nature of your trip, however, can help you decide how to pack for camping when you’re not quite sure what to bring.

What type of camping are you doing?

There are lots of different ways to go camping, and what you need to pack for a camping trip depends on the type of camping you’re doing. Car camping and backpacking present two very different experiences.

Backpacking requires you to carry all of your gear on your back. This is a big limiting factor when it comes to what you can and can’t bring while camping on the trail. You don’t have the same weight and space constraints with car camping, however. You’re only limited by what you can squeeze into your car, regardless of how heavy it is.

Generally speaking, here’s how to pack for camping when you’re uncertain about gear.

  • If you’re car camping you should almost always bring gear you’re on the fence about. If you have space for it, bring it.
  • Backpacking is a little bit trickier, though. If you’re unsure about gear, leave it out. You probably know if you absolutely need something. Omitting the unnecessary is key part of backpacking.

 

Learn from past mistakes

While you typically want to reduce pack weight as much as possible while backpacking, and you don’t have to prioritize gear as much with car camping, you shouldn’t rely solely on this philosophy.

Everyone’s needs and preferences are a little different, which is why you should learn from experience to help you decide how to pack for camping. Learn from your past mistakes instead of making the same mistakes over again.

If you were awake all night because your 30 degree sleeping bag doesn’t keep you warm in 30 degree weather, bring your bigger, heavier sleeping bag, or consider a warmer sleeping pad or a sleeping bag liner. Staying warm while camping and getting a good night’s sleep is worth the trade off for a little extra weight in your pack.

If you carried around a big survival knife on your hiking pack and never used it, do your legs a favor, ditch the weight, and leave it at home on your next backpacking trip.

 

Visit Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for camping equipment, backpacking gear, and any outdoor gear you need to get outside!

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