We’ve never had so many vacation days left in the year than we do right now. Really, none of us have been going on vacation because, well, we don’t really have the opportunity to travel in 2020 the way we have in previous years. So, people are ditching the Bali trips and spending weekend vacations closer to home at driveable locations.
From New Yorkers experiencing the Jersey Shore for the first time to Southern Californians heading to Mammoth, vacation possibilities close to home are — much to our surprise — pretty endless. But, if you’re looking to really push it to the limit in terms of close-to-home vacation experiences, we totally suggest a camping trip before it begins to get way too cold out.
Camping isn’t for all, but everyone’s gotta give it a shot at least once. And if you’re ever going to do it, now’s the time. Whether you’re a pro or a first-timer, it’s time to grab your closest friends (we recommend solely the ones you’ve seen during quarantine) and head on a trip into the woods this fall before vacations pause until the spring. Don’t know what to bring? No worries, we’ve got you covered from absolute necessities to a couple of things you don’t necessarily need, but will in fact make your trip a ton better. Here are the 15 things to bring camping in 2020.
1. A Tent
What were you thinking? It’s camping, it’s absolutely necessary that you’re going to need a camping tent. You do not want to be that friend that decides to sleep in your car. Nobody likes that friend.
When it comes to buildable housing options, look no further than Eureka as your go-to brand. They make inexpensive, top-quality tents that are so easy to put up that a chimp can do it. We always recommend something decently tall, so if you have to stand or get dressed inside, you won’t have to do it laying on the floor. This four-person tent is a great option for a couple of friends that’s roomy enough for air mattresses and a safe place to store your bags. Windows are mesh for ventilation and easy breathability, so you and your pals won’t unintentionally suffocate during sleep. It also comes with a detachable rain-resistant roof covering so no wetness gets on your pillows and blankets, but if you’re promised a clear weekend, we definitely recommend sleeping topless for a nice view of the midnight sky.
2. A Tarp
Rule number one: never have a tent without a tarp. Yeah, lots of tent brands might say their bottoming is entirely waterproof, but who even wants to take the risk? Lay a tarp down before you pitch to ensure you won’t experience any dampness from underneath as you snooze. If the weekend is calling for 100% sunshine, we still suggest you throw one down anyways since rain from days prior might still be saturating the ground. Better be safe than sorry, especially when spending a weekend in the great outdoors!
3. Bug Spray
This one should be second nature, but just as a reminder, you’re going to need some strong bug spray no matter the time of year. This ain’t the city, baby, there are bugs out here that surpass common insect knowledge. OFF! is always a trusty option because their spray is easy to lather on and never feels oily or greasy. It’s made for long-lasting protection against not only mosquitos but also ticks, flies, gnats and chiggers. Considering it’s also formulated with 25% DEET, this stuff will surely get the job done and leave you and your friends bite-free the entire weekend.
4. Large Cooler
There aren’t many takeout options in the middle of the woods, so you’ll have to bring all drinks, meals and snacks with you. Aside from keeping that beer chilled, keep any meats, cheeses, milks (for coffee), fruits and veggies cold inside YETI’s Tundra 65 Cooler and allow your ice to last, well, most likely the entire weekend. It’s the largest cooler YETI has to offer and the insulation in this thing is beyond any other cooler on the market, so your stuff will stay chilled even if the temperature outside is saying otherwise. Unless you’re at a certified campground, ice can be sort of a hassle to get your hands on time and time again, so this is an ingenious splurge to keep your stuff cold no matter what.
5. Over-Fire Grill
You can’t live the entire weekend off beer and chips, as much as you think you might want to. Hot dogs and hamburgers are essential to a good camping trip. Thankfully you already have a way to store them, but if you’re wondering how to cook them, you’re going to need an over-the-fire grill. It’s as simple as it looks, lay this thing right on top of your campfire and get cooking. You’re going to feel like a caveman in all the right ways. Spice it up and get your group a couple of steaks, marinated chicken breasts or sausages to add to the mix and have a real shmeat bonanza. Camping cooking trick: while you’re roasting your meats up top, throw a couple of potatoes wrapped in tinfoil right underneath into the fire for the perfect meat and baked potato dinner. Don’t forget the tongs!
6. Propane Stove
Depending on where your priorities lay, you can potentially go without this one, but if you want any side dishes with your meals or crave eggs and coffee on the daily, you’re going to need a propane stove. The Coleman Triton+ is a two-top propane burner that has the power to go the extra mile when camping. Cook eggs and bacon side-by-side while boiling water for an instant cup of coffee with ease. If you’re throwing a couple of steaks on the over-fire grill, saute some onions and peppers to top your meal with some wild rice. Five-star meals are absolutely allowed in the wilderness.
7. A Sleeping Bag
It might seem a bit obvious, but you need a sleeping bag for your camping trip. Your blankets from home simply will not cut it. We repeat, your blankets from home simply WILL NOT cut it. For real. In the wilderness, nights are absolutely frigid. You need a warm swaddle from all sides that surpasses any warmth you get from your bed at home. Some opt to lay their sleeping bag down on the floor of their tent and use blankets on top to keep cozy, but we find that ridiculous. Don’t underestimate the ability for drafts to come through the sides of your makeshift bed! Put yourself inside the entire bag and zip it right up for the ultimate night’s sleep when camping. You’ll be totally warm each and every night. Get ready to sleep like a baby.
8. Fun Games
Not every waking moment is going to be spent by the campfire. Spend your days in the sun playing games with your buds and a few brews. The ultimate camping game is classically always going to be cornhole. We don’t know why, but we aren’t upset by that. If you’re looking to bring more than one, consider ladder ball, volleyball, UNO or even toss the ‘ole frisbee around.
9. Portable Charger
Service might be spotty, but we know you don’t want to star in another sequel of some psycho-slasher thriller where a group of friends goes into the woods and never come out. So, if there is an escaped serial murderer on the loose, you’re going to need your phone to call the police. This portable charger from ANKER is one of the best portable charging devices on the market. It’s slim, light and packs serious power so you can feel secure day in and out.
10. Bluetooth Speaker
Because you can’t bring your trusty friend Alexa, you’re going to need a way to play your favorite tunes the whole weekend — we should add that your weird pothead friend Zeke playing his indie version of WAP by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion on his busted guitar doesn’t really count as “good music.” The JBL Flip 4 is a trusty portable speaker with the power to play music at extreme volumes. It’s loud enough to totally scare the bears away and have the local birds sing along. Best of all? It’s entirely waterproof, so if you and the boys get too drunk and leave this thing in the rain, no damage will be done.
11. An Extension Cord
If you’re camping in the middle of the woods, you’re likely never going to need this. But, at tons of campgrounds across the country, specific campsites offer electricity through a post at your site. Check online or call your campgrounds beforehand to see if this is anything they offer, but if they do, bring a long extension cord so you and your pals can charge your phones, portable chargers, speakers, attach light fixtures and more if you fear going full horse and buggy for the weekend.
12. Camping Chairs
Never forget to bring some foldable camping chairs for nights around the fire. With that being said, never forget to bring at least a few extra foldable camping chairs for nights around the fire, because we both know some of your friends are going to forget theirs. That’s why we suggest this two-seater from Kelty. It’s an excellent addition to your campsite and a seat that comes in clutch for your forgetful friends. It’s cozy for cuddling with your significant other while you make s’mores and comfortable enough for at least two brawny dudes that didn’t know they had to bring a chair. Either way, it’ll be a lifesaver for your trip.
13. A Flashlight
You’re going to have to take a leak in the middle of the cold, dark woods at least a few times during your trip, so ease your fears with a bright flashlight to join you on the walk to your outdoor bathroom, aka, the bushes. A flashlight’s also needed if you’re looking for anything in the trunk of your car past sundown, which is going to happen at least once or twice. Your iPhone flash isn’t going to cut it this time, buddy, so don’t even try it.
14. An Outdoor Toilet
If pissing in the brush skeeves you out or for any number two situations, you’re going to need an outdoor toilet. We know, it’s disgusting, but if you’ve opted to camp in the middle of the woods to forego the idea of a campground, it’s 100% needed. No one wants to pop a squat in the bushes just to stand back up with a case of poison ivy in your no-go zone. If you choose to get an outdoor toilet, don’t forget a privacy tent for as much seclusion you can get given the scenario.
15. An Outdoor Blanket
Whether you’re sitting on the grass or beside your campfire, an outdoor blanket will go a long way during your camping trip. Something waterproof and packable is with no doubt your best bet, so look no further than the Rumpl puffy blanket that squeezes right into an easy-to-pack carrying couch. It’s made from 100% recycled materials so you can feel good about what’s keeping you warm and it’s exceptionally durable, promising to last for years on end.