A big problem that a lot of new campers have, particularly those with children, is packing a week’s worth of stuff for a weekend trip. Packing too much gear and food is not a problem in itself, but it sure can ad to your level of stress on a Friday afternoon, as you scramble to get away in time to make the campsite before nightfall.
We have certainly been there, with boxes of energy bars and trail mix for snacks, everyone’s favorite cereal, and bags of toys that don’t see the light of day until we are unpacking them back at the house on Sunday afternoon! Lisa and I are not free from blame, either, with extra blankets, a laptop PC, and a dozen eggs when we only need six.
Fighting the “too much stuff monster” begins with some simple planning. For regular weekend camping trips, we have a set menu for two dinners (Friday and Saturday), two breakfasts (Saturday and Sunday morning) and a lunch for Saturday. A typical weekend menu for us is:
- Friday dinner: Tortellini and sauce with a salad
- Saturday breakfast: Milk and cereal
- Saturday lunch: Soup and sandwiches
- Saturday dinner: Hamburgers and hotdogs, or fajitas, with corn on the cob
- Sunday breakfast: Eggs, bacon and pancakes
We vary the individual dishes, of course, but we stick with the same type of foods so that we can always use the same kind of pots, pans and utensils – all of which are kept in a storage tote. We don’t have to remember the frying pan and the spatula, just the “kitchen tote.”
You can apply a similar strategy to clothing, with each family member having their own small duffel bag. Likewise, we keep our tent, stakes, hammer, rope and tarp in a single storage tote – ready to go at a moment’s notice. We have found that by keeping much of our gear packed and ready to go, we are much less inclined to pack a lot of extra “stuff” that we probably don’t need.
If you are looking for a very good, comprehensive, checklist of backpacking and camping gear for your next trip, checkout Carol’s list over at Hiking Lady. It’s broken down into sections that fit nicely into the storage tote method and it is formatted to conveniently print on a single page.