Why is it that one can never remember what was needed from the store until arriving back home? I am infamous for making lists and then leaving them at home or losing them on the way to the store. No problem, I reason en route, I'll be able to remember the items once I get there. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.
I still make lists, and most of the time they get used. One technique that you might want to try, if you're ever caught in a similar predicament, is to think back through the project that you were working on when the list was made. Usually it will jar your memory enough to save another trip.
When you are going on a camping trip a long way from home, forgotten items can mean more than an inconvenience. The night is interminable when key items are forgotten. The following is a compilation of tips from a storehouse of knowledge generally obtained the hard way. While not all inclusive, this list will start you on your way to being the consummate camper -if you don't lose it.
1. Take a box of heavy-duty plastic garbage bags to reduce camp litter. Tie the bag to a tree limb (away from the trunk) at night. When you are away from the site, or sleeping, it will keep critters from scattering your refuse.
2. Make sure you have a waterproof container for matches. Lighters often don't work in the confined spaces of stoves and lanterns.
3. Always assume that it will rain when you go to bed, and store items accordingly.
4. Prepare for bad weather when you arrive; even if it's sunny gather some firewood. If you check ahead, some campsites require you to bring your own wood. Place your stack of wood on high ground and cover it with a small tarp, and you'll have dry wood even if it does rain.
5. Carry an extra set of flashlight batteries and a spare bulb.
6. Have some extra tent stakes in case one gets broken or badly bent.
7. Take some extra rope and line to have handy for tying things up off the ground and securing items that can blow away.
8. Insect repellent and a first aid kit are a must. Aloe for burns will be handy especially if you are taking kids on your outing.
9. Take plenty of water. Remember you'll be cooking, washing dishes, and possibly even yourself.
10. Take off your boots and shoes before entering your tent, bang them together to eliminate as much dirt as possible, and then stow them just inside the door of your tent. Before putting them on in the morning, give them another bang upside down to shake out any unwelcome bugs.
11. Put all of your dry clothes in a waterproof pack or plastic bag. It will keep them both organized and dry.
12. Take at least two extra mantles for your lantern. These are fragile and often get broken in transport. A carrying case is a trip saver if you drop the lantern.
13. Never leave the handle up on a burning lantern. The handle will get extremely hot, and when it is moved someone will need the aloe from your first aid kit. A handy way to use the lantern is to suspend it from a tree limb with a length of rope. That way it doesn't get knocked over, and the entire campsite will be illuminated far better with a little height on your lantern.
14. Position your tent a good distance from the location of your evening fire. Sparks always become airborne, and when they land on tents nothing good can come from it.
15. Take a tarp to cover the ground under your tent. This will eliminate moisture on the floor of your tent. If you have a dome tent you can assemble the tent and then slide the tarp underneath, so that you don't have to fight the wind during the erection process.
16. Put a tuba or snare drum on the picnic table at your campsite. Other campers will avoid you like the plague and you'll have a peaceful weekend with no neighbors.
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Frank Ross grew up on a lake in Florida, where fishing and hunting were second nature. He has pursued his passion from the jungles of South America to the northern reaches of the Arctic Circle and most points in between. With a background in newspapers, the wire services and magazines that began in 1970, Frank brings a unique perspective to his work with Cabela's. He is an award-winning photographer with a flair for getting to the bottom line of every story.
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