THE HARDEST thing about camping is not deciding where to go, nor is it about pitching a tent in the dark, getting a fire going or cooking on a tiny camp stove.
No, the hardest thing about camping is packing the car properly to go on the trip in the first place.
We like to pack as neatly as possible with item shapes matching hole shapes in a sort of three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle but packing for camping requires a very different approach with the least important stuff going in first and the most important stuff last so that everything comes out in a logical order.
The key word is "layering". For example, the stove, folding table and chairs are last out, so they lay flat on the boot floor with the gas bottle for stove and lamps tucked into corners.
Put rolled and bagged air mattresses and sleeping bags, removed from their packaging and laying flat, on top with each camper's personal belongings on top of or alongside them and preferably in soft, squishy bags such as a multi-pocketed backpacks.
Those who are truly roughing it will need water. Use containers of between two and five litres capacity for easy storage and handling and allow four to five litres per person per day for cooking and drinking. Personal hygiene needs can be well met with wet wipes.
Tools, secured in a bag or box, go in at this point and the tent, complete with ropes, pegs and poles in secure tie-top bags, fits in on top to be the first thing out when the campsite is reached.
Put pillows in plastic bags to keep them clean and put easily lost or damaged equipment such as the air mattress pump, lamp glasses and mantles, inside the car.
Some thoroughly modern campers prefer fluoro lights to the gas variety so make sure you have plenty of spare batteries of the right type on board. "AA" batteries are no good if the lights all take "D" batteries and you are a hundred kilometres from civilisation! Pack at least one handheld or head torch and try to standardise battery types to make life easier.
Everyone needs to eat but pack wisely. Non-perishable items (canned and packaged) will last a long time, most fresh fruit and vegetables will keep for up to a week, bread is okay for two or three days and UHT milk will last for months before opening.
Meat, on the other hand, can be tricky, especially if campers are in the wild and ice is hard to find. Campers who take meat, fish or poultry should make sure it is the last thing in the ice box, gets plenty of ice around it and is the first thing eaten.
As for the ice box, put it securely on the back seat if possible to free-up space in the boot.
And finally, remember to pack these tools and must-haves: a hammer, a folding shovel, a small axe, at least one torch, a Swiss Army knife or similar, a multi-tool, a manual can opener, phone and tablet charge cables and portable power tanks, first aid kit, necessary medications, a medium-sized pot, a large frying pan, a kettle or billy, fire starters, waterproof matches, work gloves, about 10 metres of rope, a roll of duct tape, spare batteries, wet wipes, rubbish bags and toilet paper.
Don't forget to have your vehicle safety-checked before you go!
Want more stories?
Thanks! You have been subscribed successfully.