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How packing less to take camping can take the stress out of the situation!

We follow our own little list for each camping trip and it works for us. We call it the Three Ps:

  • Planning
  • Prepping
  • Packing

If you’re an avid camper then you’ll have an appreciation for necessity compared to luxury. However a lot of planning comes into play for this to work in your favour. Planning almost has the biggest impact on the outcome of your trip, because if you put the hard yards in at this stage it only has a ripple effect when it comes out the other end.

Decide what you need to take ‘food-wise’ – write down all the days you are going to be away, break down your days into all the meals you’re going to need, and from that you can break it down further into a grocery list. Keep this, you’ll need it later!

Everyone adds to their camping gear over the years, but do you really need all of it? We say no! Yes in the early days we were those campers who used to pack everything, and have the vehicle packed to the brim; but we learnt quickly. It’s not the best idea to pack so many things. A great trick is to lay all of your gear out on your driveway or patio and stand back and look at everything… do you really need some of it? Only load what you’re actually going to need and leave behind the things that aren’t practical or that are heavy and awkward to pack.

This is where necessity over luxury kicks in and you play ‘process of elimination’. If it falls in the ‘Necessity’ category, this means it is something that serves a purpose. Things like your tent, bedding, chairs, tables, cooking items, recovery gear, etc. If it falls in the ‘Luxury’ category this means you don’t actually need it but it would be nice if you had it with you! However, packing luxury items is not being a smart camper.

There are endless ways to get creative with your gear choices, but don’t be slack on doing your homework. Knowledge is power and the more research you do, the better off you’ll be. Everyone’s wants and needs are a little different, and each environment has its own set of rules.

Prepping plays a big part, especially with the meals side of things. If you can minimise your food prep at camp by doing most of it at home, it makes things a whole lot simpler and you don’t need to take as many utensils. Things like pre-cooking meals such as spaghetti bolognese, curries, and all other meals that are generally served with pasta and rice. Once they’re cooked, let them cool a little before vacuum-sealing them – this will prolong the freshness of the meals to make them last longer and it also creates ease of packing when you are stocking your fridge. This is where your menu comes in handy. When you’re preparing your meals, tick them off the list so that you know that they’re done; and when you’re packing your fridge cross them out so you know that they have been packed. You can keep this list to take to camp with you so that you have a guide when it comes to meal time.  

You can vacuum-seal almost anything. It keeps items water-tight and air-tight and prevents any leakages. When it comes time to re-heat your pre-cooked meals, there are two ways you can do this: By cutting open the packet and pouring the contents into the frying pan, or by boiling a pot of water and submerging the entire packet until the food has come to the right temperature to eat.

When it’s time to pack the fourby and everything else, there are a few tips you can follow. Things like when you’re packing the clothes – you don’t need to take your whole wardrobe and nobody cares what you look like (this is where necessity vs luxury plays another part). Look at the amount of days you’re going to be away, consider the environment you’ll be camping in, and research the weather conditions so you can pack to suit.  

Packing less and packing lighter means you can take smaller clothes bags so they don’t take up as much space, but the ripple effect at the other end means that if you take less clothing and only take the bare essentials it also means less washing when you get home.

Packing your gear becomes a game of Tetris and we like to pack ours in the order that we will require things as we unpack at camp. We used to pack our two tables on the bottom of the tray, because they were the flattest items. However once we arrived at camp we realised we needed the tables first – to be able to put the BBQ and other things on them. So the idea came about of ratchet-strapping them to the bottom of our roof racks so they sit flush under there and out of the way. The bonus is, even when the vehicle is fully packed and we require a table, the accessibility is amazing. The next items that are required first at camp are the gazebo and the chairs – so of course they are packed last along with the BBQ, gas bottle and jerry can of water.

Our biggest and heaviest item is our pantry box. It fits the width of the tray and is the first thing packed and the last thing unpacked – mainly because we like to have most of the weight sitting at the front of the tray. This box is never emptied and is always stocked with non-perishable items so that we can pick it up and go camping at any time.

It can become such an easy task, with a lot of trial and error – but if you make your setup suit you and minimise what you take, you’re only helping yourself in the long run. It may take a few camping trips and upgrading or downgrading your gear before it’s right, but it will happen. Sooner or later you’ll be one of those seasoned campers that can pack at the drop of a hat when a mate says, “Hey, you wanna go?”