I keep using the terms camping and backpacking interchangeably, I think that there’s much difference here as camping can be taken as car camping, glamping, etc. My short-term goal is to car camp; drive to a campsite, set up and spend a weekend somewhere exploring the local trails, attractions.
Amanda and I’s long-term goal is to backpack. The act of loading up everything you need in a pack and spending a weekend, week, weeks on a trail through hiking. PCT, AT, Grand Canyon. This requires good physical health, endurance, and experience to be done safely.
Our gear list reflects a backpacking preference, not only for longer-term goals but weight and storage space in our vehicles. Sure, we’ll take camp chairs with us and other bulky gear, but I didn’t want to invest in a 6P tent upfront and not have that flexibility. It’s also Fall, soon to be Winter here in Indiana and my selections reflect this.
Amanda and I picked up a Nemo Galaxi 2P from our local REI store. Weighing in at 6lbs packed, it’s a perfect tent for two people that is backpackable. It’s my first “real tent”, coming in at ~$200 I find it much more functional, and comfortable than the garden variety Walmart tents that I’m used to.
We settled on an REI couple’s sleeping bag that can be unzipped and used as two separate bags. It’s basically two Siesta 30s zipped together, which represents a $50 cost savings vs buying separately. It’s only rated to 30F with mixed reviews at colder temperatures, but an extra quilt since we are car camping early on should make it toasty.
If my young teen year’s experience of freezing during a Boy Scout fall camp taught me anything, the ground wants to suck all the heat out of you and kill you. Sleeping bags compress under the weight of your body and provide little to no insulation on the ground, our largest known heatsink. This is so important, that I decided against the R1.1 sleeping pad that I originally had on my list and went with a more expensive R4.4 insulated pad.
I went a step further, not wanting to rely solely upon an inflatable in case of puncture, and added a closed cell foam Z Lite. R-values are linear and stack, the foam pad is rated at 2.6, and the V LITE is at 4.4, equaling a combined R-value of 7.
I spent a few hours in the tent yesterday while it was raining and cold. The combination of the foam pad and inflatable was very comfortable, and the warmest part of my Sleep System; I could feel the heat radiating back at me, almost like I was cuddling someone. This is a critical piece of kit!
- Light My Fire 8-Piece BPA-Free Meal Kit 2.0 with Plate, Bowl, Cup, Cutting Board, Spork and More
- Stanley Stan Adv 32oz Coffee Press Cook + Brew, Stainless Steel
- Stanley Camp 24oz. Cook Set
- Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition
I kept our cooking and mess set barebones early on as it’s one of those things that are difficult to assess the need for before gaining experience. A glaring exclusion is a good water filter, I plan on using my Lifestraw bottle and we’ll have access to potable water while car camping. The mess set is nesting, which is great for size and weight. The French Press and Cook Set are inexpensive, yet a favorite of many. The camp stove can nest inside the Cook Set. Importantly, these are stainless steel. One should never boil in aluminum due to the risk of Alzheimer’s, or so I’m told.
We have a cooler we’ll take with us, along with a frying pan and other utensils for car camping.
Layering clothing system, footwear
I have footwear covered. My Ecco Tracks are a longtime favorite of mine and waterproof. I’ll pack along my trail runners as a backup. When snow is on the ground, I’ll reach for my Danners. I could use some winter socks, along with some inner socks to complete my footwear kit. Amanda needs to pick up a pair of shoes for camping.
As for layering clothing, I’m lacking in long underwear and a good coat for winter. I can get by with what I have now for Fall camping though. Staying warm and dry is paramount to any camping adventure and can help make winter camping fun.
Considering we are noobs at camping, I don’t mind “cheating” a little for comfort early on. We’ll be going to the forest in Brown Co with nighttime temperatures dipping into the low 20’s soon. The campgrounds I selected have electricity on site, I’ll be able to take one of my tiny heaters and an extension cord (fan based, safe for tent use).
Ah, I forgot my Fiskars X7 hatchet and folding saw. I’ve been watching some bushcraft videos and I’m excited to try out some of these new skills when building campfires. Anyway, these tools are pretty much ubiquitous so I don’t feel too bad not listing them.
I’m sure to be missing some things, and this list doesn’t include the essentials like my multi-tool, first aid kit, flashlights, etc but I don’t feel the need to document those. I kept our initial investment affordable (we’ve been saving for some time) and chose to not over gear, as what we’ll actually use will differ then what we think is needed (as with all things). And lastly, the things we kitted with are of good quality, which will maintain the resale value and last, which is better than buying new cheap gear each year.
Just a little over a week now.