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The ontheroad blog posted their list of the top 5 camping essentials and after reading it I was left scratching my head. I mean, sure they hit all the major items – sleeping bag, tent, flashlight, stove – but the first item on the list was an air mattress / foam pad, an item many might consider a luxury rather than an essential. As a Boy Scout and wilderness survival merit badge instructor I remembered a slightly different list and it goes something like this:

1. First aid. In any outdoor survival situation the first priority is to take care of life threatening situations whether it be bleeding, a broken bone, etc. Pack your first aid kid and you’ll be set to take care of many potential threats to your safety while camping.

2. Shelter. The ontheroad blog got this one right – bring a tent and a sleeping bag plus weather appropriate clothing. According to the Wikipedia humans cannot survive more than 3-hours when exposed to extreme low temperatures. Blazing summer heat can take its toll as well which leads us to essential #3:

3. Water. In many places you don’t need to bring your own water since it is available via spigots or natural springs. No matter where you go be sure to bring something to store and transport water like milk jugs or Nalgene bottles. If you’ll be relying on natural springs you’ll want some type of purification equipment as well – either tablets or a water filter (and no, a Brita pitcher doesn’t cut it).

4. Fire. The Boy Scouts put this priority before water which is a little questionable in my mind but fire is definitely important. It’s useful for signaling if you’re lost and can be used to purify water in an emergency situation. Fire also goes a long way to improving your state of mind and you can use it to cook any critters you might catch on your trip (see #5). Bring some matches AND a back-up fire starter (a lighter, flint & steel, etc.) and you’ll be set for camping.

5. Food. Man can survive for weeks without food but in my opinion a camping trip without food isn’t really all that fun 😉 Of course you need food but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to cook anything. Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are available from military surplus stores and contain everything you need to prepare and enjoy them (including a heat source). Ok, so maybe enjoy is a strong word but you get the point. Crackers, Snickers bars, and Pop Tarts are all good camping food – no stove required!

So there you have it – the tripleblaze camping essentials list. Of course this list leaves a lot to be desired on the comfort scale so check out our camping checklist for a more detailed list of items to take on your next camping trip!

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