When we go camping, we pack our gear and go. What we take with us depends on our destination, our means of transport, our planned accommodation and the length of our trip.
To be clear, RVs and truck campers do not camp. These appliances are extensions of our kitchens. Kitchens, because food is the most important thing in the camper’s repertoire. Of course, other things like sleeping bags, rainwear and shoes are also important. But as we’ve all heard, love goes through the stomach.
Truck camping used to be the most common camping method. You throw a giant pop-up tent in the back of the truck, several collapsible camp beds, various pots and pans, a propane stove and a drinks cooler. The meal usually consists of bacon, eggs, hot dogs, bread and a variety of snacks. Extremely heavy on the snacks.
SUV touring is a little different than truck camping. There’s less “stuff” because there’s usually less people around.
The stove is getting smaller. The tent can be attached to the car and it could come with a blue tarpaulin. The latest trend could include a tent-style outhouse. What happens to the waste is a mystery.
The camping discussed here are weekend getaways. Longer trips require more preparation. Road trips require far less planning and care than off-road deployments. Traveling on the Autobahn allows one to stop and buy anything that has been forgotten. Pizza and showers are also on the menu.
Real camping involves traveling on foot. What you take with you depends a lot on the length of the trip and the destinations. Sheep hunters tend to stick to kibble and oatmeal. A small, high-tech stove that uses a minimum of fuel is almost a necessity. Groceries that only require hot water are a must. Good taste is optional. What is carried in is carried out.
Long voyages that focus on moving as opposed to hunting or fishing require completely different planning. Cooking is mostly done over the fire. The food carried is subordinate to physical care and comfort.
Week-long trips require excellent rain gear, good sleeping bags and suitable footwear. The food is not as important as the pot. Oatmeal, cream of wheat, pilot bread, and peanut butter are staples. Honey, jerky and some kind of warm drink are also important.
Real trips used to take months. Some took years. The food wasn’t the priority. Grooming was key to a successful expedition. There are some great photos scattered here and there on the Internet and in Arctic Expedition publications showing some minimalist camps. A tarp, a pot, some rope and sleeping utensils were the extent of the preparation.
I took a personal journey that spanned 40 days; completely off the road with no contact or supplies. There was no sleeping bag, no tarpaulin; simply excellent rainwear. It was a summer trip to unknown land. Fishing gear and traps formed the focus of my food supply. Concessions included a few pounds of trial bread, peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and rice.
The first week was a bit tough until I got used to it. I had insulated tennis shoes and extra socks for pedicures. In retrospect, good knee boots would have been a better choice.
There is another type of camping that needs to be discussed. Trappers who went to the bush and commercial fishermen who went to the water.
While these trips are not typically considered “camping,” they do share similarities. The participants leave their comfort zone for a longer period of time. A big difference is what can be brought. Space is tight. Trappers are the most limited, as they could go several months without supplies. Flour, sugar, salt, beans and rice are the same basic necessities as they have been for generations.
Boat lining can be very different. Fast food is a necessity. Soups, ramen noodles and minute rice. Oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and pancakes are familiar items. My crew has a few specialties: Avocados and mangoes are an occasional addition to the diet.
As you can see, camping or overland travel is an individualistic enterprise. Some might look at my grocery list and say; “iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!” So be it. Go camping, make your own list, but whatever your travel plans, whatever your food choices, have a great time outdoors.