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Essential Camping Gear

1. Food
Everyone has to eat! Your choices vary from freeze dried food to preparing your food prior to your trip and making the meal at camp or doing it like you do at home and prepping and cooking a full scale meal at the campsite.

2. Tent
Your method of shelter can be as simple as a tarp and a piece of rope tied between two trees. Tents should be functional in serving your needs while camping, not to big yet have enough room to protect your gear from the elements. Here are some guidelines for buying your next tent.

Tents are advertised by how many people can fit "cram" into a tent without and gear, usually two man, four man, six man and eight man tents are the norm. there are those that are larger, but for our example, these will work. For example, a family of four will find it rather confined in a "Four Man Tent" you will be walking all over each other and would probably frustrated with your purchase. Usually it it easier to think in terms of a minimum of 30 to 40 square feet per person. a 10' by 10' tent is ideal for two people and gear. A 16' by 10' tent will accomodate a family of four and feel spacious. You will be able to put two queen size inflatable mattresses and have walking space between. This is what I use on week long trips.

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3. Sleeping Bag
Start with choosing a comfort rating for the type of camping you will be doing. The rating is the minimum temperature a sleeping bag will keep the average person comfortably warm at night. Generally, sleeping bags have a rating of +10 degrees to +50 degrees. You may choose to have a couple of tents, one for winter and summer camping. Use this as a guide only, individual preference and metabolism can change the rating you might find comfortable. Also take into account whether or not you will be sleeping on a sleeping pad, a cot, or an inflatable mattress or just on the ground. In Arizona, during the summer months you may find yourself unzipping the bag during the night just to stay cool.

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4. Water
Water is essential to life. If the campground you are planning on staying at does not have potable water, you will need to either bring it or sterilize water found at the source (i.e. a stream, lake etc.). Iodine tablets bought at the local outdoor store will effectively kill most biological elements. When using Iodine tablets, remember to wait at least one hour before consuming the water to allow the iodine to work. Persons with thyroid problems or on lithum, women over fifty, and pregnant women should consult their physician prior to using iodine for purification. You can add vitamin C to the water for better tasting water.

Other methods of sterilizing water for consumption are Boiling or filtration. When boiling water, make sure that a temperature of at least 185 degrees is maintained for a few minutes.

There are several device on the market for filtering water. A filter pumps water through a microscopic filter that is rated for a certain sized organism. A "water filter" filters out particles "protozoa" from 1.0 to 4.0 microns. A "microfilter" filters out particles "bacteria" from 0.2 to 1.0 microns and a water purifier filters out particles "viruses" down to 0.004 microns.


5. First Aid Kit
Things to consider adding to your first aid kit. There are several prepackaged First aid kits.

  • Bandages
  • Scissors
  • Personal Medication
  • Tweezers
  • Hydrocortizone Cream
  • Thermometer
  • Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen (to reduce swelling)
  • Eye Wash
  • Gauze Pads
  • Sun Block with a high SPF & UVA, UVB
  • Medical Tape
  • Snake Bite Kit
  • Antiseptic Wipes
  • Neosporin

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6. Lighting
If there is one thing that has changed in camping gear in the past decade, the flashlight is it. virtually gone are the bulb flashlights of the past. LED technology has taken your old standby and souped it up all while increasing your battery life by leaps and bounds. Headlamps are in and there are a plethora to choose from.

A lantern is a must at night around the campsite, if you don't have one, you will be sorry. For a cheap price, you can get a quality lantern and there are many styles out there. You can go with electric, kerosene, white gas, propane or go green and buy a hand crank or solar lantern.

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7. Clothing
One of the most overlooked items on the list, the proper clothing can save you from a desert storm, which can roll in without warning and put a damper on all activities around the campsite.

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8. Camping Stove
We all want to cook over the open flame of the fire but not all things cook well that way. Take scrambled eggs or pancakes when you need to control the heat, nothing beats a camping stove. Oh, don't forget the fuel.

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9. Cooking Utensils
You have to cook in something when using a camp stove. Your options are virtually limitless. From stackable pots, pans and plates to plastic ware and paper plates to gourmet cookware, what you bring with you is totally up to you and the way you roll when cooking at the campsite.

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10. Multi-Tool / Knife
If you are the backpacking type, a Swiss army knife can be your best friend. For those who choose to tent camp, a multi-tool is the Rolls Royce of swiss army knives. Much more versatile and rugged, this tool is your one stop toolbox.

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