If you’re an outdoorsy kind of person, nothing beats camping, whether you’re enjoying the light luxuries of an RV or truly roughing it in a tent. While communing with nature is a blast, there’s a reason humans have spent millennia trying to tame it and coming up with advancements that make interactions with the elements an optional, recreational activity instead of a necessity: The outdoors can be a little uncomfortable at best, and dangerous at worst.
Here are some things you should pack to make your next camping trip more fun, relaxing, and safe.
Pack a tarp
When it’s time to lie down, a tent and blanket alone are not enough. Lifehacker staff writer Meredith Dietz suggested also packing tarps. These pull double duty, better protecting your body from any pointy rocks and creepy crawlers underneath you, and protecting your food or possessions from the elements, animals, and even other campers.
Bring an inflatable solar lantern
You’re probably already packing flashlights, as well as candles and matches, but light is extremely necessary—especially if you’re setting up camp someplace you’ve never been before. This tip comes from Lifehacker video producer Jordan Hicks: Solar lanterns charge during the day, using the sun’s rays, so you don’t need to be paranoid about your battery-packing. An inflatable solar lantern, like this one, is collapsable, waterproof, and bright, giving off light for up to 24 hours.
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Comfy classics These quirky clogs are obviously here to stay—and with their 360 degree flexibility, there’s no denying their comfort. Might as well buy two of ‘em!
Include a personal water filter
Personal water filters are also a must, according to Hicks. Even a personal straw filter, like the LifeStraw, will do the trick. You should, of course, be packing as much drinkable water as possible, but in the event you run out or find yourself without it, a device to protect you from bacteria, parasites, and microplastics can help you stave off dehydration and get back to a safer spot.
Even if you select a spot with decent cell service, it’s smart to have walkie talkies for everyone in your group in case you get separated or find yourself with worse service than you expected. Sure, it’s 2022, so you might not even have walkies talkies lying around, but these things come at a variety of price points. Check out this highly rated set for around $30 or these for about $150.
Bring a multitool
It’s hard to anticipate what you’ll encounter when you go camping, but even if you’re planning to just use a firestarter and lounge around reading a book, you might be surprised at some of the issues you’ll encounter when you’re miles from the nearest store. Your best bet is a multi-tool, like this 14-in-one bad boy, which comes with a long nose pliers, round nose pliers, cutting pliers, various knives and screwdrivers, and a bottle opener. You can’t predict all the issues you’ll run into, but for about $20, you can at least stock up on tools to help you tackle them. Thank Lifehacker senior health editor Beth Swarecki for this one.
Some other essentials
In addition to these ideas, here are more of the basics you need for your camping trip, according to safety organization SureFire CPR:
Trash bags for garbage, so animals are more likely to stay away from your site
Matches (and lighters)
Sunscreen, a sun hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirts