5 ESSENTIALS TO TAKE ON CAMP (AND WHAT NOT TO BRING)
3 June 2022
Enjoying the outdoors means different things for different people. For us, part of the joy of the natural world is needing relatively little to truly appreciate it! Preparation is key for any outdoor adventure. Whether you're getting ready for your first school camp, going out bush or joining us on a 10-day expedition, having the essentials will make a difference to your overall experience. With decades of experience in many different environments, we have put together a checklist to help make preparing for your next outdoor experience easy and stress-free.
1. STURDY AND COMFORTABLE SHOES
When preparing for your outdoor adventure, it is vital to consider the terrain and activities you'll be in. You won't be walking around on paved, dry streets. Your feet should be supported and waterproofed with sturdy, slip-resistant shoes.
We always recommend hiking boots or walking shoes with reliable sole grips. Shoes which have been broken in are preferable as these will reduce the likelihood of developing blisters. If you have recently bought a new pair of walking shoes for your trip, it's a good idea to take them out for a few walks before your trip.
Your feet will likely get wet if your outdoor adventure includes canoeing, rafting, or other water sports. Pack an old pair of runners with you, which you do not mind getting wet.
Pack an extra pair of shoes with you! Having an extra pair of shoes to wear around your camp, like a pair of sneakers, will ensure you have something dry to slip into at the end of the day – open-toed shoes like thongs or slippers are not advisable.
While having appropriate shoes is essential, pairing them with the right socks will ensure your feet are as comfortable as can be during a long bushwalk or cycle. Explorer socks are tough and durable and can provide extra support – we love them! And more than one pair!
2. SLEEPING BAG
Having a good quality sleeping bag can make sleeping in a tent or a cabin at our centre-based camps as cosy as sleeping in your bed! And after a day of exploring, a good night's sleep is crucial for maintaining health and wellbeing. Sleeping bag manufacturers provide temperature specifications so you can pick the right sleeping bag for the conditions you'll be experiencing.
During the warmer months, opt for a breathable sleeping bag. Synthetic fibre sleeping bags can give the skin the necessary air to breathe.
During cold nights, we like a down sleeping bag; we prefer these because they absorb moisture well, keep us warm, are relatively light in weight and are easy to pack away. Select a sleeping bag with a hood for extra warmth!
Using a sleeping bag liner not only provides insulation and comfort but also creates a barrier between your body and your sleeping bag, extending its life.
3. BE SUN SMART
It may seem obvious, but sun protection is essential when enjoying the outdoors. Pack clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible, e.g., long sleeve tops with a collar. Bring some old sunglasses to protect your eyes and a broad-brimmed hat to shade your face, ears and neck. And of course, apply SPF30 (or higher) broad, spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Although most people remember their shoulders and faces, some forget to put sunscreen on their hands, ears, neck, feet and lips. We encourage you to apply sunscreen liberally at least 20 minutes before stepping out into the sunshine. Don't forget to reapply.
Some outdoor clothing carries an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), guaranteeing the level of UV protection a fabric provides; these garments are sometimes treated with colourless dyes or chemical UV absorbers, blocking both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays.
4. WARM CLOTHES
The clothing you select to take with you will protect you from the elements. We're always sure to pack warm thick outer layers like fleece or woollen jumpers and long pants (synthetic are best) no matter the season. Particularly in the colder months of the year, layers are your friend. The layer closest to your skin should be moisture-wicking and allow sweat to evaporate quickly. We recommend thermal tops and bottoms; for us, they are year-round essentials. Thermals can be worn under your clothing on cold days and also provide an extra layer when sleeping. Wear thick explorer socks and a close-fitting hat, like a beanie, to insulate your head.
You should avoid cotton and denim as they tend to absorb moisture. Instead, select breathable fabrics which dry quickly.
Wool is a great choice for the material nearest your skin because it wicks away sweat and dries quickly, keeping undergarments from getting clingy and preventing chafing. Wool isn't just a cold-climate tip, either. Clothes helping your perspiration move along aid body temperature regulation, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
5. A DURABLE WATER BOTTLE
We all understand the value of staying hydrated, no matter what your day has in store. Even the shortest outdoor journey will see you work up a thirst, so carrying some water with you is essential.
Health advocates advise against reusing bottles made from plastic, including most disposable water, soda, and juice bottles. Using a reusable bottle is better for you and better for the environment!
We always have a water bottle of at least 1-litre capacity with us. We're usually carrying backpacks, so we like to ensure our bottle will fit in our pack's bottle pocket.
Insulated bottles are great if you want to bring something hot or iced on your journey, but they're typically much heavier than non-insulated ones. We find non-insulated bottles are more suitable because they're simple and keep weight to a minimum.
We recommend buying a durable water bottle to withstand years of outdoor adventuring. To get the most life out of your bottle, look for one made of stainless steel that doesn't flex and doesn't have a lot of seams.
WHAT NOT TO BRING
The endless stream of electronic alerts and messages on our phones, tablets and watches can be overwhelming. Particularly when enjoying the outdoors, our devices create an unnecessary distraction from all the outdoors has to offer us.
Student-participants are not allowed devices while on program with us, encouraging them to relearn the act of screenless living and fully engage with the natural world and their peers. Without their devices, students have a chance to develop independence and negotiate social situations on their own. In fact, time away from their phones changes young peoples' brains. A study by child development expert Yalda T. Uhls of Common Sense Media found preteens who spent just five days at a nature camp without access to screens developed a greater understanding of real-world interpersonal communication cues. Ultimately, the campers were better at reading facial expressions, making eye contact and interpreting tone of voice as well as other prompts.
We do, however, permit camera-only devices on our programs. Like some of the students joining us in the outdoors, you might like to take a Go-Pro or a disposable, waterproof camera with you and your journey.
For us, the idea of camping is not to live as you do at home. You will not need all your hair styling products, fashion jewellery or fancy clothes. Anytime you're outdoors, there's a risk clothing will get ruined. Leave the fancy stuff at home and go for practical items and comfort instead.