Camping 101
A Guide to Basic Gear

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If you are venturing out into the wild this summer, a bit of preparation can help you have have a most excellent time. Listed below are important basics for car camping; backcountry camping will require additional gear and food supplies. 

Before you go, tell trusted friends and family where you will be and when you will return. Plan ahead for reservations as car campsites fill up quickly in most state and national parks. Even local parks are really busy. Be sure to reserve a spot so you have a home base. Also, have a safety plan and maybe even an app in case of emergency. 

Once all of that is done, though, the only thing left to do is go and enjoy. Soak in the light, air and sounds, and leave “regular life” behind. Even a short time off the grid is refreshing and renewing…what else is summer for?

Home base

  • Tent with fly, tarp, all accessories
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camping pillow
  • Rain gear/outerwear (Minnesota weather is unpredictable)
  • Comfortable and warm (synthetic and cotton) layers from shorts to long sleeves
  • Hiking boots with multiple pairs of socks
  • Underwear
  • Hat, bandanna, sunglasses, hair ties
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap
  • Day pack for car camping, big pack if you are going into the backcountry

Camp cuisine

  • Fire starter and stove
  • Water bottle/safe water supply (check the campsite where you are staying to make sure this is available; backcountry camping requires more water prep)
  • Basic eating utensils
  • Easy-to-prepare camping food (ready-to-eat meals, dried entrees, bacon, rice and pasta boxes, tortillas, PB&J, bars, fruit (fresh or dried), veggies, chocolate, coffee, tea)

Personal items

  • First aid kit (including lots of blister bandaids if you are hiking, and any personal medications), sunscreen, bug spray
  • Pocket knife/multipurpose tool
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Biodegradable toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Solar phone/light charger
  • Cash, in case credit cards don’t work
  • Plastic bags

Gear for your journey

  • A site chosen using local websites and state and national park information
  • Map/compass/GPS/ charger
  • Kayak/canoe/stand up paddle board
  • Fishing or hunting gear
  • Books
  • Art or photography supplies

Safety tips for women camping

  • Have an off-site person who knows where you will be and when you will return, as well as an emergency code word should it be needed; consider sharing a tracking app like Life 360.
  • Camp with friends before trying solo camping.
  • Bring bear spray and a shovel or other tool for self-defense.
  • Get to know your campsite and your neighbors and choose a safe spot.

About Author

In her 15 years of living in southeast Minnesota, Rochester Women Magazine has been Anastasia’s touchstone for the many communities of women in our city and region. She is so grateful to contribute to this amazing resource. As a nonprofit and education volunteer and staffer, mom, and gardener, all of her passions can be found on these pages, and she looks forward to helping develop more content. When not writing articles, she can be found reading, running, gardening and enjoying time with family and friends.

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