How To Pack Less For Camping And Have More Fun

pack less for camping

I stare in awe at minimalists campers that arrive in tiny cars that pack less for camping than most back packers.  American's love their big vehicle and we often pack accordingly.  There are ways to pack less junk for camping and have twice as much fun.

 I am notorious for coming back inside the house to check and make sure that I put everything into my vehicle and then grabbing one or two more items that I "might need".  When I get home and start unpacking my items, I notice that I made us of about half of my clothing, food, and other stuff.  I am a minimalist at heart but I seem to fall short almost every trip.

My advice is to use a camping check list and stick with it.

Organization is the key to packing lighter.  By all means, take what you need.  You are on vacation and want to enjoy the trip.  When 1 item will do the trick don't take 3. 

How To Pack Half As Much Stuff And Have Twice As Much Fun

Ask yourself these 3 questions when you are packing questionable items

  1. Do you really need the item?
  2. Can you substitute another item for it?
  3. Is it a consumable item that can be purchased later?

Most of our items have multiple functions.  We all wear zippered REI pants that double as shorts. I pack 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of sandals.  I pack 3 running shorts that I use for underwear, swimming trunks, and running shorts.  Our pressure cooker doubles as a storage container for our bowls and cups.

My wife packs a lot items that she calls "staples".  She tries to pack items that we cannot purchase on the road.  We eat mostly organic food like raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.  These items are not stocked in your average grocery store.  Other items like fresh fruit, meats, and vegetables can be purchased on the road.  I have a Coleman dual fuel stove that burns unleaded gasoline that I buy at local gas stations.

Our pressure cooker doubles as a storage container for our bowls and cups.

Light Weight Down Sleeping Bags

It's easy to slash the amount of weight and items that you bring.  All of our sleeping bags weigh less than 4 pounds.  My wife and I each have light weight down bags and my kids have light weight synthetic mummy bags.

Compressible Sleeping Pads

I bought my kids each an adult size Klymit Static V inflatable air mattress that is about the size of a grapefruit and weigh approximately 1 pound.  My wife and I sleep on medium weight self inflating air mattresses that keep us comfortable and insulated from the cold ground.  We don't need an air pump.

Pack This One Item And You Will Never Get Cold While Camping

Get a light weight down jacket that is super warm and can be used as a pillow. No need for multiple jackets as down is light weight and can be unzipped so you will not feel too hot.  I also pack a light weight water proof Gortex jacket to keep me dry in wet weather.  People laugh when they see me packing a down jacket for summer camping until  they get cold in the morning.

Ditch The Blue Jeans For Quick Drying Camping Pants

Denim is way too heavy.  Yes, I know that the old Levy button down jeans were super durable and would last for years.  Nowadays, pre-washed denim jeans may look hip, but will not take a lot of abuse and are too heavy for camping trips.  They also act like a sponge if you get them wet.   If you have to hand wash them, you will spend all day drying them.  Lightweight camping pants can be washed by hand and put on to wear after ringing the water out.  We shop thrift stores and find the light  weight camping pants with zipper legs that quickly convert into shorts.

Lighten Up Your Eating Utensils

We pack one bowl, cup, and plate for each person.  All of our eating utensils are made of high quality light weight stainless steel.

Buy See Through Storage Bins

Do you ever get bothered by having to guess where a certain item is stored?  We keep all of our daily items in see through plastic storage bins.  I label each bin with a plastic Sharpie marking pen to make organizing even easier.

You will thank yourself at the end of your trip by not taking along too much stuff. I travel with the philosophy that if I did not pack it, I probably do not need it. On the other hand, if I really need an item like a hatchet, cooking pot, etc, I will gladly buy it on the road.


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