Summer Camping Essentials

Summer camping essentials

There’s nothing quite like the anticipation on your final day of work before hitting the road to your favourite summer camping destination. Whether you’re wild camping in the Magaliesberg kloofs, or glamping at De Pakhuys, there will inevitably be those few pieces of kit that always make the packing list! Here are some mine.

Let’s start off with the absolute bare essentials.

The first is a place to sleep. First prize is a good tent! What tent do you need? How long is a piece of rope? Your choice in tent all depends on your choice in adventure. For the hiking hermits who like to spice things up and sleep somewhere different every night, you might want something that is lightweight and easy to put up and take down.

Look no further than Terra Nova’s range of Helm Compact tents; available in 3 different configurations – 1 person, 2 person, and 3 person, the only decision you must make here, is how many adventure buddies you’re bringing with you.

If you’re more of a park you your car, walk 2 steps, and pitch your tent kind of adventurer (think Tranquilitas Adventure Farm style) – then the First Ascent Eclipse is your home away from home. The symmetry of this tent is wondrous to behold, and its low profile makes sure it doesn’t get flattened in those Boven gales we all know so well!

Speaking of the weather.

Summer in South Africa means a few thundershowers are inevitable, and staying dry means staying warm. That’s where your hard shell comes in. We have a rain jacket that has a higher water column than most tents – the Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell will have you covered. If you’re a casual car-camper or a hardcore, ultralight purist looking for some milage on the legs, this crucial piece of gear will find itself at home in any camping or hiking kit.

So, now you’re dry, and well rested. Well almost.

A bomber tent without a sleeping bag and a mat is basically a high-tech lawn ornament. Local is always lekker, so choose the First Ascent Downlight sleeping bag. The perfect summer down bag to make sure you’re comfy, cosy, and not too toasty.

If you do not condone the plucking of feathers from ducks or geese to rely on comfort, then look for something synthetic like the First Ascent Amplify 900 synthetic sleeping bag. Synthetic bags won’t pack down small like your down bags, and they are less toasty, which makes them the perfect summer camping sleeping companion.

Pair this with a bomber sleeping mat, and you’ll be golden. Now, my opinion will tell you to NOT embrace your inner ancient Egyptian and get a ‘mummy’ shaped sleeping mat, unless you’re going to be filling your tent to capacity. If you want something that you’re not going to roll off at least 25 times a night, the JR Gear Venture XL will have your mummified camping partners green with envy. And remember, the only thing as difficult as your first multi-day hike through the ‘Berg is washing your sleeping bag. A liner is the perfect way to avoid sweating into your bag too much and it also adds those few extra degrees of comfort for when the temperature happens to drop below comfortable. Just be sure to get one that doesn’t add too much heat to your setup – your favourite online gear store has a great line(r)-up.

So, you’re sleeping like a king?

But you’re not living like a king. Yet. When you go camping – whether trekking, hiking, or car-camping – it’s always good to take those few pieces of kit that improve your quality of life.

The first item I usually pack is my Jetboil. I am a coffee snob of note – which might make you think: “what does a Jetboil have anything to do with that?!” Your trusty Jetboil is essentially a high-tech, lightweight, French press coffee maker, and I never go anywhere without mine. Grab yourself the newly upgraded silicone Jetboil coffee press and start your day right with a good old cup of Joe! And when that’s done, you’ve got yourself an all-in-one cook system that boils water before your morning boskak even hits the floor – don’t forget to cover that sucker up, check out this flow-chart on leaving no trace when nature calls in the great outdoors. If espresso is more your cup of tea – erm, coffee, then be sure to pick up the Bialetti Moka Express – a handy, stove-top percolator. The only thing stronger than your well-trained fingers, will be your morning cuppa.

Coffee is a luxury, but water is a necessity.

Make sure that you stay hydrated with a Nalgene. These huge, plastic vats, when filled to capacity will almost drain the Vaal of all of its water. The guys over at Nalgene have released these tried and tested vessels in some quirky colours, and they come with a lifetime guarantee to make sure that you’re hydrated on all your future adventures. Just make sure that if you’re out on the dirt roads trying to spot some prime game and you need a drink of water, you either need to be wearing your rain jacket, or your wide-mouth Nalgene should be  equipped with an easy sipper – otherwise the rain on the outside of the car will be the least of your worries!

If your ice-cold water does happen to evacuate your wide-mouth Nalgene, you can ensure that all your non-waterproof valuables are safe with the Sea to Summit range of dry sacks. I recommend one big enough to stuff your sleeping gear into – the last thing you want is to be

For those moments of the day where water rushing onto your person is more acceptable – and almost welcome – those snazzy outdoor showers at Tranquilitas are extremely liberating! I think their only downfall is the fact that you can’t take them everywhere – that would involve some expert demolition and some very unhappy adventure farm owners. Avoid all this by putting your shower in your pocket. How, you might ask? Sea to Summit makes some amazing gear to keep the wet out, but they also make some pretty handy gear that serves the sole purpose of making things wet. Stay clean with the 10L Pocket Shower and take that liberating feeling of showering under the stars with you everywhere.

Now, the only thing we’re missing is somewhere to put all this. If you’re hiking or trekking, you can skip on some of the luxuries to make sure that you don’t over-fill your backpack. Barefoot Ben Bru has the best blog about finding your next backpack.

If you’re not into roughing it, then all you need is a duffel bag – for your clothes of course! The size of your duffel depends on which side of the spectrum you are – “I need an outfit for every occasion, just in case!” or “I’ll just turn all my underwear inside-out, that way I can get at least two wears out of them.” The North Face has some great options for both sides of the spectrum and everyone in between!

Lastly, if, like all major metros in South Africa, you don’t have electricity where you’re going, Power Traveller and Goal Zero will the headlights on, and your cameras charged. The Power Traveller Solar Adventurer kit is great for solo missions, but the Nomad 20 has a big enough surface area to absorb enough solar energy to rival even the power capacity of Koeberg during stage 0 load shedding!

Remember, at the end of the day, there is no limit to what goes into your pack (or car). If you think you’ll need it, pack it. These are just some of my top priority gear items to keep me going – and have fun doing it. So, if you’re lacking any of the above, be sure to head on down to your favourite gear shop or get those fingers moving and surf over to your favourite online gear shop and stock up!

Oh ja, and don’t forget your headlamp! Simon and Garfunkel would not have conceived one the greatest ballads of all time if they remembered to pack their headlamps – and extra batteries!

Until next time, see you guys out there!